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Encaustic for Elementary, Tooling Foil and One Step-Mosaics!

I experimented with some amazing and fun art techniques at the NAEA ’19 Conference that I am going to share with you today. These are ticketed hands-on workshops that are longer (2 hours) and cost a little extra ($39 each). But, the extra cost is SO worth it!

INSIDER TIP: Before I start going through some of the tips that I learned, I wanted to tell you that if you download the NAEA Convention App for your phone, you can search the sessions and access all the handouts that have been uploaded by the presenters. Both the tooling foil workshop and the encaustic workshop had handouts uploaded to the app. You can access these even if you didn’t attend the convention.

Totally Terrific Tooling Foil

This workshop I was looking forward to because it was taught by my blogger friend Phyl, of There’s a Dragon in My Art Room. In fact, by following this link, you can read all about her workshop from the source herself.

I have always been hesitant to work with tooling foil with my students. I have done projects before with limited success. I decided to try a robot tooling foil project earlier this year and you can see the robots here. So, the robots turned out nice, but I still wondered how to achieve more depth and how to deal with those pesky sharp edges that resulted when you cut out a shape.

Here are some of the examples that Phyl brought:

I learned how to make the edges less sharp when you cut out a shape: The trick is after you cut out the shape, lay it flat on a table and rub over the edges with the edge of a popsicle stick. Flip over the shape and rub the edges on the other side. Continue to do so and the edges will not be sharp anymore! The $39 was worth that tip alone!

The other tip I learned to make the relief pop out more is that after you press out the shape on the reverse side, lay down the foil flat on a hard table and rub around the shape with a popsicle stick to flatten out the “right” side again. Every time you work the reverse side, you should reflatten the front “negative space” with a popsicle stick on a hard table. This definitely helped to make my bird parts stand out more. We colored our images with India ink brushed on with a foam brush. Then, after it dried (use hair dryers to speed up the process), we used steel wool to lightly rub off and reveal our textured designs.

I like how on the above examples Phyl used acrylic paint and Sharpies to add color to the foil, as well as decorated the boards she mounted them on.

Here is my bird made with tooling foil:

My plan with this bird is to add a little bit of color, then punch holes on the tail and attach wire and beads. I will also mount this to a board and paint the board background.

Encaustic Art: It’s Elementary!

This workshop was taught by Colleen Dunbar and Amy Radford.

I had never done any encaustic artwork before, so this was very exciting to learn about. What is encaustic? Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. (From the Encaustic Art Institute).

The presenters started by showing slides of encaustic work and in particular, focusing on Jasper Johns’ encaustic works. (You can see all of their slides on the NAEA Convention app in their workshop description.)

Here is a close-up of Jasper John’s flag. You can see the brushstrokes of paint and newspaper scraps through the encaustic. One of the fun things about encaustic is that you can place collage pieces or draw in between layers or

Image result for close up of Jasper Johns flag

You may be familiar with Jasper Johns’ number artwork.

Image result for jasper johns numbers

We used number and letter stencils to draw a design. Then, we colored our designs with oil pastels and colored pencils. Collage elements were also glued on.

After the drawing was complete, hot beeswax was applied to the picture. Since the workshop is about encaustic for elementary, the resin was left out of the beeswax to make it safer. To set up the stations, beeswax pieces were put into metal tins and placed on top of a pancake griddle on low heat (under 200 degrees.) The beeswax was painted on with cheap foam brushes. I have not tried this with kids, but I would advise you to take extra precaution, as the wax is hot and could burn. The presenters have taught encaustics with their upper elementary students. They set up one or two stations and stand in between them to monitor the kids as they apply the beeswax.

Adults can use heat guns to remelt the wax on the paper to spread it away from areas you want to show through more clearly. (Not a good idea to use with kids.)

After wax is dried, more collage elements can be added or oil pastel drawn on top. Additional wax can be painted on to create further layers. The one caveat is that since there is no resin in the mixture, you should not place these pictures in a hot car or direct sunlight, or the wax could start to melt.

Here are some other beautiful examples from the class.

This lovely design was created by Lee Darter, of Art Room Blog. I was happy that she had signed up for the class too! Here is her picture before the wax.

And here is her picture after the wax, with a little bit of collage added.

Pique Assiette: Broken Plate and Mirror Mosaic

Pique Assiette is French for stolen plates. This refers to the act of appropriating and transposing an object’s original significance into a personal statement. It is juxtaposing the pieces with non-traditional imagery. The presenter showed us lots of images of different mosaics and artists who created mosaics from broken fragments of old objects.

We started by selecting mugs and plates and pieces of old dishware.

Then we were able to take out our aggressions by smashing the cups with a hammer under a piece of cloth in a large plastic tub.

Here is my pile of broken Disney mug pieces.

After we had a pile of broken pieces, we selected more pieces from the stash, traded with other people and found little objects to include in our mosaics.

  1. On a piece of paper, trace the board that will be your base.
  2. Lay it out next to your board and arrange your pieces on the “planning paper.” For this one-step mosaic process, you want to have all of your pieces ready to go!
  3. Next, spread the Adhesive & Grout mixture on to the board with a spatula or wooden stick. Usually, you glue the mosaic pieces on and then use a grout later. With this method, you press the pieces into the mixture for a one-step mosaic. The Adhesive & Grout used was this mixture from TEC. She added powdered colorant to make the bisque color seen below. I think the plain white color looks nice too.
  4. Working quickly, press the pieces into your adhesive/grout before it dries. Try to clean up the edges as you go. If some of the grout dries on to the pieces, you can try using nail polish remover to get it off.

Here is my finished mosaic: I chose the Disney cups because my in-laws live near Disney most of the year and spend a lot of time there. Plus, the kids like Disney. I put a piano figurine on there because my daughter and I play the piano. I included a cat figurine, because my daughter likes cats (I don’t). If you look closely in the upper left area, there is a green frog leg. I found the broken frog leg in the ceramic pieces and thought it was really cute and funny. There are also some blue pieces that look like they are Dutch pottery, and I have Dutch heritage.

Phyl signed up for this workshop also, so that was fun!

This was Phyl’s mosaic!

Here are some examples from the other participants.

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About Marcia Beckett

Marcia is an elementary art teacher and loves painting, drawing, sculpture, art journaling and clay. Her blog, Art is Basic, features many exciting art projects for kids.

One Response to Encaustic for Elementary, Tooling Foil and One Step-Mosaics!

  1. sandys5 says:

    Wow, that looks like fun! I love every part of your conference. I still have my children’s foil art pieces from middle school. I love doing art projects with my granddaughter, she looks forward to my ideas. I’m thinking of trying that mosiac project with her. Thanks for sharing.

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