Encaustic Wax, Flower Printing, and Plaster Play

I've finally carved out a niche in my outside studio to play around with encaustic wax!! (Happy dance here.) It's summertime, so I can throw the doors and windows open to keep the studio well ventilated. I just need to make sure no critters get caught inside! (On acreage in the middle of the forest, this is a real challenge.)

Also on my list of things to try out is creating prints by pounding flowers into either fabric or paper. And in keeping with my non-linear, crazy mind these days, I'll throw in a smattering of plaster to mix things up even more.  The options are growing exponentially as I write.

I had a damaged wooden board stained with indigo India ink, cast off from a failed project. This would be perfect to start my foray back into the world of encaustic wax. Blue = sky, easy beginning; and I love flowers, so there you go. 

Here are some detailed shots:

That was soooo much fun! But that's just the beginning. 

I have a large bare spot on one of the walls in our cobalt blue tiled bathroom. Unfortunately, the first piece is a horizontal panel, and I needed a perpendicular panel to fill the void. So on to the next experimental art adventure I go.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, thus I am trying to use things I have on hand. Since I didn't have a correct size wooden panel, I ripped leftover drop cloth into the size I wanted, and added a layer of plaster of Paris to the front (let it dry) and then the back of the cloth. I had seen this done by Jeanne Oliver for smaller journal pages. Perhaps this isn't the best thing for a larger panel like I'm making as it may crack or break fairly easily, but I forged on ahead knowing that it's just for me, and on the wall, and I'm pretty careful.  

What shall I put on this panel? I have been vying to try hammered flower cloth. What, you ask, is hammered flower cloth? Take flowers and hammer them into cloth. I used a very thin, woven, cotton muslin type cloth. I went around my yard and gathered a variety of flowers to try.

I layered a piece of paper underneath, added the thin cloth, arranged the flowers on the cloth, covered the flowers with parchment paper, and used a rubber mallet to hammer the flowers into the cloth. The parchment paper allowed me to faintly see where the flowers and colors were transferring onto the fabric, helping me create a more cohesive design. I went in after the first pass and added more flowers and greenery where it was needed. The bottom layer of paper had a faint ghost print from the color that seeped out from the fabric. You could use this paper for a mixed media piece, or attach it into your journal, or whatever you like. 

Here is the cloth panel. 

I won't wash this. If you wanted to use this technique on a washable item, you would need to treat the fabric before and after doing the flower pounding. Since I knew this was for the wall and wouldn't be washed, I used untreated fabric. 

To attach this fabric onto the plaster substrate I used encaustic wax. I laid the fabric onto the plaster panel and added a layer of encaustic wax on top of the flower print. The wax soaked into the thin cloth and down into the plaster. I am hoping the encaustic wax will not only act as a binder, but also help to seal in the color of the flowers and keep it from fading. 

Here's a portion of the cloth before the encaustic wax was applied.

And after the wax was applied.


And here's the same area after I added some darker encaustic wax accents. 

Sweet peas on fabric.

Sweet peas after clear and some white encaustic wax. 

Here are close ups of areas with the darker encaustic wax and some indigo colored wax details added. I wanted a little of that indigo/cobalt color of the bathroom tiles in the piece. 

I left the edges rough, but felt it was a little too rustic. I had leather straps that I added to the piece by stitching a loop and hanging them onto the copper tubing I used to hang the piece by. 

The leather covers the rough edges on the longer sides and makes the piece look cleaner. I used a piece of wire as a hanger, but wanted to obscure it a bit so I added a few pussy willow branches to the top. 

I like how the plain plaster is still visible at the top and bottom of the piece. 

I learned a lot by just playing around with materials I had on hand, trying to make do. I'm happy to have a piece of art to hang in the bare spot of the bathroom. I hope you give the flower printing a try. It's very easy. There are all sorts of tutorials on Youtube showing different methods. I even saw that some people used rocks to pound the plant materials into the fabric. 

Happy summer, everyone!


  1. Would love tbe wood pannel if its for sale...its fabulous..angie pease

  2. Hi Angie~So nice to see you here! I'm really glad you like the wood panel piece. The board is slightly damaged, so I wouldn't sell it, but I think we can figure something out :) Email me at gatherandmake.gmail.com.