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Waxing Poetic

Assignments Experiments Paper

IMG_9394 I might have mentioned around here that I'm making a book.  I am blissfully so close to never saying a word about this book again (apart from shouting, "I'm done!" Almost, that is.  Just about).  But I am excited to report back about one new technique I used in the process of making this book:  waxing paper.  My book consists of alternating folios of western and Japanese papers (I used Kitakata), and I wanted the Japanese sheets to have a nice translucency to them so that there was a lot of interplay between the two papers as the book is paged through. Waxing paper is by no means a novel business in the book arts world, and even though I adore the effect, I had always assumed it would be complicated and difficult, so I had never given it a try.  Turns out, it's really not hard at all.  Just a little monotonous, perhaps, if you have to do it 120 times.  As a total novice at this, I'd love to hear thoughts or feedback from anyone out there more familiar with the process, but here's what I did:  I first attempted this using a double boiler, but the process of brushing wax that quickly hardened onto the paper was slow and a little cumbersome, so a friend at the Center offered to let me use her waxing griddle instead.  That's right -- she has her own griddle dedicated to this technique, and with any luck at garage sales this summer, I'll have my own soon, too. I started with filtered beeswax pellets, set the griddle on warm, used a brush to spread the wax across the griddle, and then laid the paper into the griddle like so: IMG_9382IMG_9385 I loved seeing the little wax circles spread up the paper.  It was a beautiful thing to behold.  After the sheet was adequately saturated with wax, I laid it on clean newsprint... IMG_9356 folded the newsprint over, and ironed to get excess wax out of the sheet.IMG_9361 IMG_9363IMG_9400 IMG_9369 Then you just pull it out and inspect the overall color and tone for any uneven patches and into the stack it goes!  The natural Kitakata develops such a lovely, warm tone when waxed -- almost antique.  I am thrilled by the results, so you can bet I'll be repeating this again in the future -- just as soon as I find myself a griddle! IMG_9375 P.S.  The "d" looks fuzzy because, well, it is.  But that part of the sheet later got cut off, so all is well.

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  • Karyl Smith on

    Wow, Laura – you amaze me!

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