Alligator Lizards, Accretion, and Piano Keys

“Accretion” is a dry brush encaustic technique that allows the artist to build up wax on a surface.  I’m kind of obsessed with it these days.

First, five or so very well-fused layers of medium are put down onto a surface.  Then lines, circles, etc. are carved into that wax, like so:


Let me back up.  You might ask “Katie, why is this panel taped off so oddly?”  Well, it’s because I learned the hard way that is VERY important to figure out how this thing will be framed BEFORE you have a zillion fragile layers of wax fused to it.  Unlike a traditional painting with a flat surface, one cannot simply set the painting face down to drill holes into the back in order to frame it.  Nope.  So the panel in the photo above is already mounted into it’s frame and that tape is protecting it.   Don’t forget to think about this, or you will be very, very mad at yourself.

Now back to accretion…..

Those zillion layers of wax are created by dipping a brush in wax, tapping the brush so it doesn’t drip, then gently swiping the brush over the panel.  The same direction each time is preferred (by me, at least.)  LIGHTLY fuse every two swipes or so.  LIGHTLY.  You don’t want to melt down all of those peaks of wax.  Changing up wax colors is fantastic.  I always have a pot of clear, black, and white melted down for this.


Keep going…..


and going….


…experiment a little with some glitz.   Have a glass of wine.  Figure out what to binge watch next.  Then get back to work.


Continue until  your arm feels like it’s going to fall off, go in the backyard for a break and some fresh air.

Then, find a very cold alligator lizard on the patio, and make your brother pick him up to warm him up, and move him out of the of the way so the puggies don’t torture him.


Then, add some green-gold glitz to the surface, because it reminded you of the lizard.


Then go grab those antique grand piano keys you have been hoarding.


Tape them off and hope this doesn’t end in disaster.  Accretion, accretion, accretion some more.  Use wire to separate them, very carefully.


Then, dots.


And, eventually, you will be done.  And pretty satisfied with yourself.  And wondering what to accrete next.






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