Monday, February 15, 2010

Beeswax Collage Basics

Hey Everyone!

Are you all ready to play with beeswax?

I sure hope so!

Today I thought I'd start off with the very basics. Now there are a variety of was to go about using beeswax on various projects and all artists have their own special techniques they like to use. I'm going to share what works for me.

Types of Beeswax

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There are a variety of ways you can buy beeswax. Ranger offers a purified beeswax in a pellet form that has very little of the honey/wax smell. It is available in natural ~ a yellowish color or white which is great for adding pigments to create colored wax for your projects.

Another option is pellets of natural beeswax usually in the candle making section of the craft store (that's what's in the baggie). It's much easier to find this style than the others. This type of beeswax is similar to the Ranger variety but it usually has the normal beeswax aroma where Ranger's doesn't.

IF you are lucky enough to know a beekeeper you might be able to purchase blocks or cakes of natural beeswax. I LOVE using this type of wax because the smell is wonderful (IMO). Be aware that if you do use this type of wax there may be impurities in the wax. By impurities I mean little flecks of ??? ~ but I don't mind it...I think it adds to the character of the finished piece.

Tools for Beeswax

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Brushes - I only use natural bristle paint brushes to apply the wax to my projects. It doesn't have to be an expensive type ~ cheap brushes work great as long as they don't have synthetic bristles. I like the type of brushes that have a handle that I can label... I keep one brush for each colored wax, one for white and one for natural beeswax. This way I never have to worry about cross contamination of colors.

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You can see what happens to synthetic brushes when used with beeswax and the heat tool. It not only melts, it can burn the bristles right off the brush!!

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Melt Pot/Project Pan/Non Stick Craft Mat - I know it's not possible in all cases but I like to keep a seperate Melt Pot, Project Pan and Non-Stick Craft Mat for working with beeswax. I am so messy when it comes to art that I would spend as much time cleaning up as I did working on my project. It's just easier for me to have a totally seperate set.

Now, if it's not possible all that you really need is a project pan. You can melt the wax in the pan and if you have left over wax when you're finished with the project, simply leave the wax in the pan and let cool. The wax will harden and be ready to go for the next time it's needed.
You don't necessarily have to use the Melt Pot for beeswax. There are LOADS of hot pots on the market that can be used for beeswax. Options include candle wax work pots, glue pots, candle warmers, tart warmers (the little crock pots), etc. Beeswax has a very low melt temperature so your options are wide open.
I also keep a seperate Non-Stick Craft Mat because it's very difficult to clean wax completely off the mat. You could do it but I figure the time I would have to spend cleaning up the mat could be spent on crafting ;) If you don't want or have an extra craft mat, newsprint, cardstock, etc. would work but just be aware the wax will seep through the first couple layers so you'll need quite a few layers to protect your work surface.
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Papers - You can use just about any type of paper you want with beeswax. I know some people will debate this remark but I have used all sorts of materials for beeswax collages. Everything from fabric, tissue (designs & pattern tissue), napkins, pattern papers, light chipboard pieces, book pages, map pieces, game pieces, photos, postcards, postage stamps, playing cards, etc. It all works!
Beeswax Collage Basics
I wanted to begin with a basic collage to start you off working with beeswax. I'll share cards and dimensional embellishments in a couple days.
1. Plug your melt pot in and cover. Let the pot pre-heat for 5-10 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and pour in a generous amount of wax (remember if you have too much you can leave it in the pot for later use.). Replace the lid and let the wax melt completely. It usually only takes a few minutes to do so.
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3. Once the wax has melted your set to go!
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4. Apply a layer of wax on your project base. I am using a heavy chipboard for this project but you could also use canvas, wood, heavy cardstock, etc.
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5. Place a piece of your background paper over the initial layer of beeswax. Paint on a layer of wax over this paper and continue adding additional pieces building up your collage as you go.
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6. You can add all sorts of goodies to your, map pieces, flash card, stamps, ephemera, etc. Continue adding pieces to your collage as desired.
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7. I like to periodically use my heat gun to thin and move the wax around on the collage. This helps even out the wax and prevent thick layers of beeswax building up in certain areas. When you use the heat gun you will also notice that your paper items "melt" into each other. The various layers will meld together as it is absorbed into the papers. Each layer becomes semi-transparent so you can see all of the various layers through each other. It's a great effect which is one of the reasons I love using beeswax!
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NOTE: Beeswax is very forgiving! If you forget a piece or want to add in a bit here or there ~ no problem!! Simply melt the wax with your heat gun and add in or move whatever is needed.
In this example I wanted to add the image of a ship beneath a couple of the postage stamps already adhered to the collage... Simply heat and insert!
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That's where we'll end it today...tomorrow I'll continue by adding natural elements (flowers, leaves, etc.).


  1. How cool! thanks for the tutorial:D I've been contemplating a melting pot purchase.

  2. This is a GREAT tutorial! I can't wait to see more. Thanks for posting this!

  3. What a fantastic tutorial, PLUS an added bonus about the types of beeswax, melting pots, utensils etc etc. Brilliant help, thanks so much x

  4. That looks so cool. Great tutorial, I've been meaning to play with my beeswax, thank you this is excellent timing. :o)

  5. Easy to follow - great tutorial :) I HATE beeswax, so will follow with interest, lol.

  6. Fantastic information! Thanks so much for posting this.

  7. I was lucky enough to get a block of beeswax from a local bee keeper. I now need a melting pot. This is something I've been wanting to try. Thanks Roni

  8. Thanks so much for this post. I purchased some beeswax a few months ago,but didn't know how to use it. I cant wait to start my melting.

  9. Great tips Roni! I have some leftover beeswax from my candle making days that would be perfect for this technique! Thanks for the ideas!

  10. I have just come across your blog and needed to say you are fabulous. I am going to have a further peek now!!

  11. totally happy that you have started my fire to use the wax thank you for the time you have but in the tutorial

  12. I have had a play with beeswax - just experimented and it was such fun - and more by luck than judgement I did just what you have. I can't wait to see tomorrow's post

  13. you are so amazing i love your way of teaching!! cant wait to give this a try this weekend!! awesome job and thanks for sharing!!

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  15. so much effort went into this post, thanks so much for sharing. Have featured your tute on my blog Craft Digest. Will be up on the 20th of Feb.

  16. wow!!! something very different and interesting


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!