This is a series of 4x4" encaustic collages that I made between late May and August 2020. All of my artwork makes use of salvaged materials, but in the first year of lockdown I leaned extra hard into using what I had on hand or could find on our daily walks with the dog around the same handful of blocks. As a result, this series was made on recycled paper board, includes a lot of found paper scraps, and my marks were made using botanical inks I made from the garden (and foraged on walks), graphite, water-based paints, and more.
Made by Gayla Trail. Each piece is original, unique, and not duplicated.
Signed on the back. Includes a sawtooth hanger bracket in case you’d like to hang it that way. They’re not installed so that you have the option of choosing a hanging method. I think they look best installed inside a shadow box.
Encaustic is an art form derived from the Greek enkaustikos, which means "to burn in." Beeswax is mixed with a tree resin to create a medium that can be used as-is or mixed with pigment. Because the medium is all natural, the finished piece has a pleasant scent and a tactile quality that is wonderful to touch.
There are lots of ways to use encaustic in art practice. I've come to think of my own small works as a multi-fold process in which I unearth stories through paper (collage) and bury them in wax. I often add "marks" to the surface using various materials (graphite, homemade botanical inks, paint, and conte to name a few before applying the wax, and further work the surface by etching or applying ink, metal leaf, or oil medium.
How to Care for an Encaustic
Encaustic medium does not melt at normal temperatures and once cured, the resin will harden to a protective surface. However, it can take up to a year for the resin to fully cure, and even afterward it is possible to gouge the surface with a sharp object. Be especially mindful of gold and silver leaf, which is often applied near the surface.
The surface of your encaustic will cloud a little or become matte as it cures. You can bring the shine back by buffing lightly with a soft cloth or piece of old hosiery. I suggest waiting at least a few months before doing that since I often work oil pigments into the surface and they need time to dry and bond. Working the surface too early, or too hard risks wiping them off.