Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Reading: Plaster Studio

I was so excited to finally get my copy of Plaster Studio! This is a book by two great artists and great teachers - Stephanie Lee and Judy Wise. I've been lucky enough to take a class from Stephanie Lee, and Judy Wise saved my bacon once when I was teaching down in Arizona and ran out of encaustic medium. So, no, I didn't get a free review copy, but am a bit biased in favor of these lovely ladies . . .

I was delighted that the book includes instructions for one of my favorite Stephanie Lee techniques - Cracked Burlap! Part of why I'm so excited to get this book and learn more about working with plaster is that it's a wonderful substrate for encaustic. Once dry, it's rigid and absorbent - the perfect surface for wax.

And the smooth but cracked surface she manages to create are very tempting to me.

And the instructions are really well done - step by step photos, with the written directions right underneath. And the detailed information about different types of plaster and how to use them - AMAZING!

The book even offers ideas for making three-dimensional substrates - cages, nichos, shrines, vessels. And all of them can be decorated with mixed media - I lean towards encaustics, but acrylics can also be used. The book includes ideas for both.

In fact, the only minor complaint I have about this book is that it includes projects with instructions to put wax over acrylic . . . something I've learned to think of as a no-no. (Imagine dripping candle wax on a plastic tablecloth and how easily the wax will chip off when it's cool - encaustic on acrylic doesn't generally create a very stable bond).

That said, a lot of people - including Stephanie Lee and Judy Wise - use encaustic over acrylic all the time very successfully. They use thin coats of acrylic on very absorbent surfaces so that the wax can still penetrate the surface.

Bottom line, I loved the book. I read it cover to cover, and am adding it to my list of "must have" reference books for encaustic - especially for those who are interested in doing dimensional or sculptural work.

No comments: