Last time I mentioned that The Theory was building us a beehive, which he finished over the weekend. My job was to paint it with encaustic paint. The first thing I did was do up some samples using the two different kinds of wood that are in the beehive. In the image below, the wood on the left is brand new cedar (used for the roof of the hive). On the right is the aged cedar we used for the body of the hive. I tested three colors: whiting, Rublev Pink pipestem and Rublex Vincenza earth. Here’s what we got:
Column on the left are brand-new, pitchy cedar boards. On the right are aged cedar scraps from a recycled fence. The top row is whiting which was too contrasty. The middle row is pink pipe stem, which looked good on the new wood but very paint-like on the old. The bottom row is Vincenza earth which sort of equalized the two wood types.
We chose the Vincenza earth because it added a little warmth to the raw cedar yet preserved some of the mossy color of the aged cedar.
Then I mixed up two pounds of filtered yellow beeswax with a few ounces of damar resin. I added the pigment and a little linseed oil and started painting the roof, which was built with new cedar. As soon as I hit the surface with my heat gun, pitch started bubbling out of the boards. Since pitch is a component of wax medium, I wasn’t concerned with how it would react with the medium. But I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get the wax to penetrate into the wood. The wax poured off the boards and I had to heat, scrape and reheat to get a uniform surface.
Not so with the aged cedar. The main body of the hive was made with recycled cedar fencing that had been standing outside in the rain for twenty years. The hot wax sank into the wood like water seeping into the desert. It was such a pleasure to work with this wood!
Anyway, here are before and after photos of the hive. Not the greatest pictures, sorry about that!
Unpainted top bar hive sitting on my studio table.
Encaustic beehive. The medium took a full 24 hours to cool and cure, probably because of all the pitch in the new boards. Today it looks like stained and sealed wood. I can barely see the pigment.
And here’s the bonus experiment—I painted a plastic planter with encaustic paint. I love this color. I’ll let you know if the encaustic survives the heat of summer.
Encaustic planter. The original material was some kind of cheap molded plastic. But it had a nubbly, slightly porous surface that took encaustic paint very well. I used yellow wax medium and Sennelier Venetian red. Those are Lee Kelly sculptures in the background–and what a pretty day it was!