Salli Babbit workshop – shellac & fire

Shellac&Fire1If you Google ‘houston encaustic classes’ then Salli Babbit is one of the leading results.

Salli has monthly workshops which usually feature some aspect of encaustic method.  I went for first time to her March 2014 workshop where the topic was ‘Shellac and fire’.  Everybody had two panels to prepare with gesso and air dry, then create some sort of encaustic artwork.

After the piece was prepared, then we went outside, slathered on a coat of shellac, set it down on the sidewalk, then set it ablaze with a blowtorch.  This results in an amber-colored crackle effect.

One guy had created a very nice scene of a church window – very detailed.  But when it burned I watched in sort of mild shock as the detail dissolved and merged everything together.

Shellac&Fire2My two pieces were pretty basic.  There were about 15 people to share a couple hotplates of encaustic wax and brushes.  So I just made a couple pieces of color stripes, went thick with the shellac and let both pieces burn out themselves.

Salli explained some options:  a) don’t put shellac over the whole piece;  b) blow it out before the burn completes;  c) thick versus thin applications of shellac;  d) clear versus amber shellac.

I had to leave these at the workshop as they were too wet and sticky to take home with me on the train.  And even after a couple of days they were still tacky.  So extra drying time is a factor.