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Some Fabric Techniques for Encaustic Art

Images on wax coated cards can easily be transferred onto fabric. In a nutshell you just turn the card face down where the image is to be printed on the fabric and iron over the back of the card. The wax re-melts and is absorbed into the fabric, creating a reverse print of the original image.

This simple process opens up all sorts of possibilities but do remember that it is best suited to "non-contact" applications.  That means washing the printed fabrics is not advised.  If you really want to, then use natural fibres which will retain a reasonable version of the printed wax image. Tee shirt material is actually quite good. If the wax is not washed out then the colours could soften through heat and smudge other adjacent material (eg clothes!).

Take a look at these embroidery examples and get a more detailed step by step list for the wax transfer / printing on to fabric techniques, down the page.  Silk applications are mentioned at the bottom of this page - to be updated in the future.

FANTASY CASTLES by Daphne Ashby  1993 
Encaustic art image was first transfer printed onto the fabric (poly cotton) 
Machine embroidery was applied for the foliage details. 
Beads were added by hand. Click the image for more detail. 
Original Work is 14 x 11 inches (355mm X 280mm). 
WATERFALL GARDEN by Jane Champion 1994 
Encaustic art image was first transfer printed onto the fabric (poly cotton) 
Hand embroidery especially 'french knots' was applied to enhance the original wax print. Metallic threads are used for the dragonfly wings. 
Original work is about 14 x 11 inches (355mm X 280mm). 
SUNSET LAKE by Jane Champion 1996
The encaustic wax painting was transferred to the Aida . Remember it prints out in reverse.  The rough naturee of this fabric loses the detail of the original but retains the structure of the image.  For creative work a less detailed background allows maximum opportunity for development.
Original work is about 12 x 10 inches (300mm x 250mm)
The Wax transfer technique
  • First paint the wax image onto some non-absorbent painting card
  • Lay the fabric to be printed facing up on top of clean under paper and tissue
  • Place the wax image card face down on the fabric in position ready to print
  • Cover the back of the card and fabric with a protective tissue
  • Iron across the tissue covered card moving slowly and pressing hard 
  • Peel up a corner of the image card to see if the wax has melted and transferred
  • When it has, remove the used card whilst still warm
  • If the wax has not fully transferred  re-align the waxed card  and iron again
  • Now embroider the finished fabric or use it in other decorative styles.

SILK will give the best wax prints, but do make sure to put extra tissue underneath the fabric during the printing transfer process.  This is necessary to absorb the excess wax.  For silk it is almost as though the images "passes through" the  material.

Once the wax image is on the silk you might experiment by stretching the fabric on a frame and over-washing with silk colour.  The wax acts as a semi-resist and wonderful effects can be achieved.  We'll illustrate this sometime in the future.

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