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Photography & Encaustic: A Match Made in Heaven

I enjoy experimenting with photographs and finding new ways to use them. I’ve used my photos in printmaking, but I really don’t have the temperament to be a printmaker. And since I’m definitely not a painter, using photos for reference is out.

When I started working with encaustic, however, I discovered how wonderfully photography and encaustic work together.

Up until now I’ve been embedding photos in encaustic or making image transfers. Recently I learned a new way of doing image transfers. Turns out I’ve been doing them the hard way!

I’ve been doing what Linda Womack calls “water transfers.” I print an image is printed using a laser printer or a copy machine onto regular copy paper. (The cheap stuff works just fine.) Using the back of a spoon, I then rub the image into the slightly warmed and very smooth encaustic surface. Once it cools, I use water to help break down the paper and rub it off very gently, leaving the toner in the wax.

The water method is good for fine lines, and you can get good details in the transfers, but it’s difficult and slow-going, especially for large transfers. Patience is key.


Earlier this week I discovered another way to do image transfers using ordinary kitchen parchment paper. It’s so easy! The process still uses laser printer or copy machine images rubbed onto the wax surface, but it couldn’t be easier. There’s no dampening and rubbing off of the paper. It practically slides right off the parchment!

Today I got back into the studio and tried my hand at the parchment paper transfer for the first time. It was a lot of fun and I’m already planning to do more.



If you’re interested in trying your hand at encaustic, Linda Womack offers in-person as well as online courses that are terrific. I’ve done two of them online. Her classes can be found at Womack Workshops.

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