Botanical Beeswax Collage
Materials and Tools:
image editing software
standard 20 lb. white inkjet printing paper
computer and inkjet printer
medium bristle brush to clean surfaces
small bristle brush for beeswax
2 small foam brushes, one for paint and one for gel medium
plastic cup to hold paint
1" wide masking tape
birch or plywood panel
fine grit sandpaper
matte gel medium
Titanium Buff and Siena Red acrylic paint
soft, lint-free cloth
100 percent unfiltered beeswax
spray bottle with water
1. Prepare the text to be used as the botanical collage background.
- Note: In this project, the guest typed simple directions for planting a tree, then found a free language translation website to translate the directions into French. The text is used for the background texture and not instruction. Find a desired font and increase the spacing between lines to get the desired pattern.
2. Using an inkjet printer, print the text on both sides of the same sheet of paper, one side in red ink and one side in green ink. Print two copies of the text.
3. To prepare the botanical images, take a digital photo of the flowers for the collage.
4. Import photos into the image editing software on a computer and remove the background so the image consists of just the flower images on white paper. Print the image using an inkjet printer.
- Note: This technique will not work using color copies or a laser printer.
5. Cut out the image of the flowers, leaving 1/8 inch of white paper around the image.
6. Cut the wood to the desired size, in this case, 8" x 10" plywood that is 1/2 inch thick.
7. Sand the wood smooth including the edges.
8. Using a foam brush, coat the wood with gel medium, brushing both vertically and horizontally for good coverage.
9. Tear one edge of each of the inkjet-printed text pages to create a rough edge.
10. Place the printed sheets with the torn edges in the center on the wood, red side down and smooth out any air bubbles with your hand. The sheets will extend beyond the wood. Set the timer for two minutes to adhere the paper to the wood.
11. Tear away the side edges of the paper that extend past the wood so they are even with the edges of the wood.
12. Place a strip of masking tape diagonally on the paper that is now adhered to the wood and burnish it down with a bone folder.
13. Pull one end of the masking tape up off the paper (similar to pulling off a band-aid) to see that part of the paper and the green ink has been peeled away, revealing the red ink from the other side of the text sheet.
14. Repeat this technique until you get a desired look. Rub away portions of the paper with your finger down to the bare wood.
15. The ink from the paper will adhere to the gel medium on the wood. Let dry approximately five minutes.
16. Lightly sand the surface.
17. Prepare a wash of acrylic paint in a plastic cup by adding a little water to the Titanium Buff colored paint until it's the consistency of skim milk.
18. Using a foam brush cover the whole collage with this mixture to unify the background.
19. While the paint is still wet, use your finger to apply the Burnt Siena paint only to the areas of the background that have ripped paper. Rub the paint in with a dry finger to blend it into the background. Let dry for approximately 10 minutes.
20. Decide flower placement on the background and coat the area with gel medium using a foam brush. Brush both vertically and horizontally for good coverage.
21. Place the image printed side down on the gel medium and gently rub it with your fingers to remove all air bubbles. Set the timer for two minutes.
22. Pull the edge of the image up to see if the image is transferring. If not, apply a little more gel medium to the area and press the image back down onto the surface. Try another area.
23. When you see the ink beginning to transfer to the background, slowly pull the paper up. The ink and some of the paper fibers will be attached to the background. Gently rub the surface with your finger until most of the paper has separated form the ink. Let dry for two minutes.
24. Lightly sand any raised areas as needed.
25. Heat the beeswax in a small crock-pot until it is liquid.
26. Paint on a thin layer of beeswax with a small bristle brush. Use unfiltered beeswax to give the botanical collage an antique yellow hue.
27. Smooth the wax using a heat gun.
- Carefully move the heat gun from side to side on the wood surface to heat the entire surface at once and give a smooth finish.
- Move the heat gun in a circular motion to remove any air bubbles or leave some in for texture.
- Apply four or five coats of wax, heating each coat to smooth the surface.
28. Optional: Apply gauze or tissue paper for additional texture. Colored wax or oil pastels can also be applied to the surface for additional interest and balance.
29. After the wax has cured for 48 hours, buff the botanical beeswax collage with a soft cloth to further smooth the texture and produce a translucent finish. The botanical collage should be lightly buffed every few months to restore its sheen.
Artist Linda Womack is a fun nature lover who is never out of energy and is usually looking for new mediums to try. When she's not in her studio, she works at a non-profit organization and helps raise funds for at-risk youths.