Wax Works West: waxing eloquent about encaustics
This creativity junkie has a new medium: encaustics. The word “encaustics” is derived from enkaustikos, meaning to burn in. Artists work with layers of hot wax medium and paints, then fuse them with heat.
OK, I may not wax eloquent (yet), but I’m excited. I discovered three local artists run “a school for encaustic arts” called Wax Works West.
Marketing note: How did I discover them?
I’d done a Google search on “encaustics workshop” and found their blog. Yay!
I sent an email to the address listed on the blog. Nothing. Boo!
Then I caught them doing a demo at a local art store last summer. They were having a good time with the audience and with each other. It looked like a lot of fun because they were having fun. Being the creativity junkie that I am, when I got home I went to their website and signed up for a class.
(The blog and email has since been updated.)
bootcamps, play days & guest artists
One weekend per month, they host beginning encaustic art “bootcamps” on one weekend per month, plus a Monday “play day” where there is no instruction, but all three artists are there to answer questions.
In November, I snagged a seat at an encaustic workshop combining altered books and encaustics with book artist Jody Alexander. I’ve since learned they regularly bring guest teachers to their studio, such as Miles Conrad (3D encaustics) and Linda Womack (photography).
I walked into the November workshop a complete novice, but wanted to learn more.
I attended their January bootcamp + playday this weekend.
lots of laughter
Daniella, Judy and Wendy are a loose, well-coordinated team, taking turns teaching and demoing techniques. They’re clearly experienced teachers, having been trained by R & F Paints and taught internationally at industry conferences.
Encaustics is definitely a hands on medium, where you need to get a feel for how to work with the materials.
Each of them has their own specialty and techniques to address problems on the spot. As a student, I thought it terrific to have three different resources.
“Help! I gouged a hole in the wax.”
“Just heat it up again.”
*insert look of “Duh!” here*
Or, “How do you embed [insert object here, no pun intended] in the medium?” (Like most things, there are many different ways to approach this.)
The bootcamp chock full of demonstrations of techniques, which frankly, was a bit overwhelming for this beginner. Many of the other students had worked with encaustics before, but as a beginner I can tell you I was welcomed and encouraged to experiment to get a feel for the medium.
What’s also terrific about them is that they laugh a lot. A LOT…which is good when you are in a room full of butane torches and hot palettes set at 200F:
Wax Works West is located in Corralitos, California, in Santa Cruz County.
Here is a photo of their beautifully organized studio, which is set up to hold up to 10 students.
If you can gather five people, you can ask them to set up a private lesson.
Wax Works West provides all materials. As working artists, they have an extensive supply of materials to experiment with.
Wear old clothes and bring a lunch, but even then, you can just walk down to the Corralitos Market.
(They had bagels from the local bagelry with various healthy spreads available in the morning and yummy snacks available mid-afternoon.)
The ladies have supplies for sale, of course. If you want to set up your own encaustic studio, they’ll provide a “Top of the Line” supply list, or a less expensive version.
The trio is planning to teach in Australia and Italy later this year.
Rich colors, torches, and an extremely forgiving and surprisingly flexible medium, hot wax. What’s not to like?
photo credit: me