Three Dimensional Encaustic

Three Dimensional Encaustic

At our November art group meeting, Paula kindly showed us how to make three-dimensional encaustic bowls. Although this isn’t technically fiber, these are made with paper pulp to make a paper clay and I thought you all might like to see the process.

This bird is one of Paula’s creations that was in our recent show in September. The bird is made the same way that we made our bowls.

Paula already had our bowls made and ready out of paper clay so that we could do the “fun part”, adding encaustic wax.

Here’s Sally making another set of paper clay with a mixture of plaster and the paper pulp stuff that forms the base of the clay. The clay is worked into a ball and then flattened with a rolling pin to the desired thickness. Then you need something to mold it over to make a bowl shape. Sally and I created a 3D creature to try later. I made the fish and Sally shaped a bird.

Here’s Paula covering a dish with aluminum foil so that a paper clay bowl can be shaped over this surface and left to dry.

But we already had our bowls ready to go thanks to Paula so the next step is to add layers of encaustic wax with a brush. In between layers of wax, a heat gun is used to fuse the wax to the paper clay surface.


Once there are at least two layers of wax, you can start adding texture. This was really amazing to me how this worked. A sharp tool was used to scratch a pattern into the surface of the wax and then using a slightly cooled brush with wax,  the cooler wax was brushed over the surface and it built up over the incised line. Drips from the edges can also be added by allowing hotter wax to run down the inside or outside of the bowl’s surface. Look at those textures, now I know you all love texture. 🙂

Of course, you don’t have to add texture if you want a smoother surface. The next step was to add color with pan pastels and powdered pigments. In between layers of color, the wax needs to be fused again with the heat gun so that it will adhere to the wax. I found this to be the most difficult part as there is a fine line between fusing and melting the wax completely.

These two are Paula’s bowls. I love the depth that she achieves with different layers of color.

This is Sally’s bowl. Aren’t the leaves in the center an interesting accent?

This is Deb’s finished bowl. You really can’t see the depth of color in this photo but it looks like an ancient artifact.

Here’s my finished bowl. Can you guess the inspiration? I don’t have a photo of Louise’s finished bowl because she didn’t finish hers. She wasn’t really happy with the colors but I know that she will end up creating a wonderful bowl. Hopefully, I will get a photo of it later.

Have you tried a different media or craft lately? Do you think it gives you more creative ideas when you try something new? We had great fun learning about 3D encaustic and thank you Paula for all your help!


16 thoughts on “Three Dimensional Encaustic

  1. These all turned out lovely. What a fantastic day you must have had. I hope you’ll show us the fish and bird when complete too.

    1. Thanks Cyra, I am not sure when the fish and bird will get completed as I don’t have the supplies to finish my fish. But it will eventually get done I’m sure and I will try and remember to show it here.

  2. All the bowls look fab.
    Thanks for taking and sharing so many photos Ruth….they give a real sense of what went on to achieve your lovely pieces. I’m sure you all really enjoyed yourselves. I’ve never done encaustic art so I’m fascinated to learn that it’s the cooler wax that stayed in the incisions!
    Trying new crafts, with an open mind, definitely adds to the melting pot of ideas.

    1. Thanks Antje! Usually I forget to take photos but I had Paula help me to remember. And the encaustic was fun and the texture making really cool. Melting pot of ideas describes encaustic to a tee 😉

  3. Wow, amazing bowls. And interesting process! I wonder if other cellulose fibres, like cotton, kapok or bamboo etc could be used instead of paper for different effects? Is that PearlEx powders? 🙂

    1. Thanks Zed, it was interesting and fun. I think other cellulose fibers would work. They mainly get covered up with wax though. Yes, there were pan pastels and Pearl Ex powders for embellishments.

  4. I love these but only have small blocks of encaustic wax. How much is needed to do the bowls shown ?

    1. Hi Pat, I am not sure exactly because my friend Paula took care of the wax. If you look at the photos, you can see how much wax was in the pans. We made 5 bowls and probably didn’t use half the wax there. It didn’t seem to take a lot.

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