Sunday, March 25, 2012

No Stain, No Gain

I am contemplating doing a triptych of 18" square pieces based upon this sample I did in the Asheville Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch worksop.  Last time I used a lot of propane gas burning wood to achieve a dark brown background.  My arms got tired and the wood warped with the heat so I'm trying out some alternative (and fine art friendly) stains.  We have four possibilities in the running:  walnut ink, a soy based stain, ink tinted encaustic gesso, and strongly brewed coffee. 

A 1/2 teaspoon of alum was added to the coffee after it cooled to act as a fixative.  I read about that here.  For you coffee nuts out there, I am not wasting good coffee, merely the $1.49 pre-ground, store brand stuff in the tin.  As a total tea nut, I thought I'd better put that out there.

Here's my setup in the backyard on my trusty picnic table covered in cardboard after sanding each of the four boards.
This is what the boards looked like after the first application of the stains.

Board #1 is encaustic gesso mixed with sepia ink.  I could already tell after 1 application that this wasn't going to work.  It took a lot of ink to make the gesso  anything but a pastel tint.

Board #2 is the coffee/alum mix.  Pale but pretty.

Board #3 is straight sprayable walnut ink.

Board #4 is a Delta soy based stain.

At first, the soy based stain looked like a mushroom color.  It was definitely cooler in tone than the walnut ink, which had a rich redish-brown tone.  The photo below is after two coats of stain on boards 2-4.  I made a change on board 1 since I didn't like the way the gesso and ink combination was working.  I spritzed it with a walnut ink called Java.  The ink had a speckled appearance on top of the gesso so I used a foam brush to smooth it out.

The photo below shows a third coat of the soy based stain on board #4 and a third coat of coffee on board #2.  Obviously the coffee stain isn't going to work for this particular project.  It's probably better relegated to staining paper and textiles, but it makes a pretty golden color nonetheless.  I'm impressed with the depth of color on boards #3 and #4.  I'm witholding judgement on which way I'll go until I see how they fare under wax.  Board #1 is definitely deep and dark but most of the wood grain is masked under the gesso.
Here's a sneak peak at another project.  I've been thinking about combining cyanotypes on thin paper and encaustics.  I don't have the chemicals right now so I decided to test out the theory using a small spray bottle and cyan ink.  The 6 inch square of paper on the left is mulberry and the right is lace paper.  I laid flowers and leaves down on the paper and sprayed the blue ink onto the paper.  The lace paper was much more absorbant than the mulberry which retained better edges and detail.  It's all up to what kind of look you want.
Stay tuned for next time when I finally heat up the wax again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stupid Human Trick - Follow Up

It's been a couple weeks.  I've cut tons of mat board, bagged prints, and smelled a lot of UV varnish stink.  Now I can make a recommendation.  I ended up using Krylon Preserve It! Matte.  That was the only spray I tried that left no visible residue on the darker parts of the images.  It also had a wider range of recommended temperatures when using.

Something I wanted to try but was temporarily out of stock, was Sunset Coating Satin.  I heard of this LexJet product from Beau Graphics (Lexington, KY) when I was picking up a giant version of my Blue Morpho image - more on that later.  This product comes in a gallon, pint, or quart and is traditionally rolled or brushed onto the image.  Duncan at Beau Graphics was kind enough to show me examples of papers they had coated with the gloss version. 

All of my bagged prints and 4 framed pieces are now up at Kennydid's in Midway.  The other 4 framed pieces should be going up this afternoon or tomorrow.  That's a big burden off of my to do list!  I can't believe how much mat board and ink I've gone through the past few weeks.  All of the framed pieces are from my digital composite work but there are a lot of new items in the bagged prints from my TTV (Through the Viewfinder) and infrared work.  Horror of horrors, there are even a few color shots!