Encaustic Arts Magazine SPRING 2017 - Page 148

It’s my not-so-scientific opinion, that the waxlike insect matter that is the main ingredient of shellac also makes it compatible with the natural insect material of the beeswax in encaustic medium. The most dramatic and varied shellac burn effects are created using a blowtorch but less varied burns are also achievable with a heat gun. The shellac must be applied to an encaustic surface in order to get the weblike textured effect. Use caution when working with shellac as it is highly flammable and should be burned only when it has completely dried. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy and remove all flammables from your working space. I have created a separate area in my studio to handle shellac that is a safe distance away from my main work surface where I regularly use an open flame. Shellac is only sold in two forms: In it’s natural color as Amber Shellac, and a filtered version of the Amber that is sold as Clear Shellac. If you want to paint with different colors you will have to make your own shellac paint by adding dry pigments before applying it to your painting surface. Amber will always give you better burn results than the Clear because it has more insect based material in it. If handling dry pigments makes you uneasy you can still create gorgeous surface patterns in your work by using the amber shellac directly as it naturally has a rich golden color all on its own. Check the labels carefully when purchasing shellac because it has a shelf-life of about 3 years in the unopened can and will last for 6 to 8 months once the can is opened. The first number to appear in the Lot number on the lid is the year it was manufactured. For instance a 5 = 2015 and 6 would = 2016 and so on. When creating colors they will last about a week in your studio so only mix up what you think you will use in a few days time and keep it well covered when you are not using it. The odor will change when your shellac is no longer usable, similar to when fruit gets overly ripe, and you will notice a difference in the burn response when it’s time to discard your shellac.