How to Make an Encaustic Tea Bag Wall Hanging

Make an eye-catching wall collage with encaustic color, metals, pigment and dried tea bags.

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Materials and Tools:

6-by-6-by-¾-inch pieces of plywood
lead flashing
tack nails
encaustic medium (purchased as a mixture of beeswax and dammar)
white encaustic paint
sheet lead
copper sheeting
tea bags
pigment sticks
wax paper
paper towels
picture hanger
power sander
encaustic brushes
hammer
needle-nose pliers
heat gun
electric griddle
tacking iron
small metal container
spoon
scissors
cookie sheet
container of water
ruler
razor blade
masking tape
scrap wood and screws (optional)

Steps:

1. Sand the 6-by-6 squares of plywood with a power sander.

2. Heat the encaustic medium in a small metal container placed in an electric griddle set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Apply three layers of encaustic medium to the wood surface by heating the wood with a heat gun and spreading each layer of the medium with a paintbrush. After each layer, heat with the heat gun. Work in a grid fashion, applying the first layer horizontally, the second layer vertically and the third layer horizontally.

4. Apply two layers of white encaustic color, using the same method. Let the wax cool.

5. Cut the sheet lead for the edge of the frame with scissors.

6. Use needle-nose pliers to hold the tacks, and hammer the tacks through the lead and into the plywood. If necessary, build a holder that will sandwich the plywood with two pieces of scrap wood screwed to a wood base. The plywood square will rest on edge between the scrap pieces of wood to leave your hands free to hammer the tacks along the edges.

7. Soak a box of tea bags in water. Remove them from the water and place them on a cookie sheet to dry. Unfold and empty the used, dried teabags.

8. Apply encaustic medium to both sides of the tea bags. Let them cool.

9. Collage the tea bags onto the surface of the prepared plywood square. Fuse the tea bags to the surface with a tacking iron.

10. Apply colored encaustic, lead and copper to the tea-bag surfaces in the desired patterns. Protect areas of the collage with masking tape. Burnish collage materials with a spoon over wax paper.

11. Rub the encaustic tea-bag surface with a pigment stick, thinned with vegetable oil, and wipe with a paper towel.

12. Attach a picture hanger to the back of the wall piece to display.

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