Encaustic Photo Transfer

The great thing about using encaustic with photo transfer is that you don’t have to use solvents. I remember lacquer thinner, unpleasant to say the very least. So how?

1. Choose the photograph or drawing that you want to transfer. One with good contrast is best, even a little too much contrast sometimes works better. Remember to reverse your image before proceeding since you will be placing it facedown for transfer.

2. Have a Xerox copy made from your original on plain paper stock. The Xerox toner will transfer the best of any other method I’ve tried. Even color copies made this way work well.

3. Prepare your support with two fused layers of beeswax or encaustic medium. Let the wax cool slightly. Then place your copy on the surface and begin to burnish, use pressure. BE patient and methodical with this step. You cannot burnish too long! The image will become more visible through the paper and you will see no bubbles. The burnisher I like best is the wooden handle of a pottery scraping tool because it is rounded and doesn’t leave marks on your image. A bone folder will work and a spoon will too, but not as well.

4. Once satisfied with the burnishing wait 15 minutes before the next step. Now flood with water and cover with a damp towel. Wait another 15 minutes. Begin to carefully rub away the paper backing with your fingertips. This takes a while so don’t hurry and keep a light touch. Once you have removed as much paper as possible then lightly fuse…very lightly. Remember you have transferred the ink to the wax. Additionally if the paper starts to dry out, spray with water to re-moisten. Try to remove as much residue as possible.

5. Brush carefully with medium and fuse when you are satisfied with the transfer.

Good luck!

6 thoughts on “Encaustic Photo Transfer

    • Fusing is part of the technique of painting with encaustic medium.Each layer of paint is melted (fused) to the layer below. That is what makes the painting archival. The medium is made up of damar resin and beeswax in a proportion that makes the surface shiny and stable. The tool for fusing is a heat gun (200 degrees) or a propane or butane torch. That’s how much heat is needed to melt and fuse the surface. Hope that helps!


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