Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Elephant No. 240: Wax Fusing

I came across this little craft a few days ago, and thought I'd try it for today's elephant. It's something I haven't done since I was very small, but I do remember an elementary teacher telling us that we were making "stained-glass windows" with this technique. To me it's more like a fusing process than stained glass, so that's what I decided to call it.

The method for this activity is relatively simple:

1. Shred wax crayons, keeping the colours separate.

2. Place heavy brown paper and paper towels on an ironing board.

3. Cut a sheet of waxed paper larger than the design you want to make. Place this on top of the brown paper and paper towels.

4. Sprinkle individual shredded crayon colours on the sheet of waxed paper to make a design. The wax will spread when you iron it later, so you may want to leave space between the colours. (Lots of space, as it turns out.)

5. Place another sheet of waxed paper over your finished design.

6. Layer paper towels and brown paper on top of everything.

7. Iron with a relatively hot iron.

8. Let your design cool, then trim around it with scissors. Frame with a piece of cardstock or coloured paper, if desired.

I decided to follow the instructions, and started by shredding a bunch of crayons. This was by far the most time-consuming part of the whole activity. It took me about 45 minutes to shred the amount you see below. I used a simple paring knife to make these crayon shavings, so it's really not hard at all. Just boring.

I used a piece of cardboard for my base, rather than brown paper. I put four layers of paper towels on top of the cardboard, then topped everything off with a sheet of waxed paper measuring about 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inches).

It was relatively simple to sprinkle the shavings into an elephant design. I didn't know how thick the layer of wax should be, but the amount below was far, far too thick and too dense in terms of shredded wax, as you'll see.

Once I was happy with the design, which consisted of a grey-silver elephant head, surrounded by sprinkles of colours, I took it to the ironing board. I layered a piece of wax paper on top, then added some more paper towels. The paper towels turned out to be much more important than I expected, as the crayon wax soaks right through the waxed paper, and then through at least three layers of paper towel.

This was what my first one looked like when I had ironed it. I tried to manipulate the wax a bit by directing the iron, but there was far too much crayon wax on the surface. I briefly mourned the ugliness and started over.

For my second elephant, I used a much lighter hand in adding wax, this time using multiple colours for the elephant, instead of grey and silver. I also broke down the size of the wax pieces by rubbing them between my fingers as I sprinkled them. I thought this might help me avoid ugly, blobby surprises in the second piece.

When I thought it looked okay, I took it to the ironing board and ironed it in the same way I'd done the first one. I was surprised that this also became quite colour-saturated, because there's very little wax on it at all, and most of it is basically wax dust. But at least it didn't turn into a murky crayon swamp.

One thing I did quite like about the second piece was the way the crayon wax blended into the waxed paper. A sort of feathering occurs, probably due to the liquefaction of both the crayon wax and the wax in the paper. To me, it looked a lot like what happens when you add wet water-based paint to a wet surface.

I was happy with the second one, so I left it as it was. I tried to get rid of the bubbles where the wax didn't quite bond to the top layer of waxed paper, but I couldn't figure out how to accomplish this. I tried ironing the specific spots, but it didn't make any difference. I also tried directing a hair dryer at the problem areas, which also made no difference. So I decided that I liked it this way.

This isn't really the kind of medium you can use to make something representational. In fact, I think that what started out as an elephant in my second attempt looks more like a long-beaked duck. If, on the other hand, you're happy with a wild abstract, and use interesting colours, this can be a rather pretty medium.

I wouldn't necessarily rush to try this again, although I'm intrigued by the feathering of the wax edges, and even the bubbles. For me, this medium has definite potential as a background surface. As a representational picture, perhaps not so much.

Elephant Lore of the Day
For the upcoming European soccer championships, some bookmakers are tuning into the psychic predictions of a temperamental Asian elephant named Citta.

Just as Paul the Octopus was believed to have a mystical ability to predict the winners during the 2010 World Cup, Citta the elephant is thought to give people an edge in placing their wagers.

Citta is a 33-year-old female elephant, living at a zoo in Krakow, Poland—one of the two venues for the 2012 European Championships. She was chosen as this year's animal clairvoyant after correctly predicting that Chelsea would win the Champions League in mid-May 2012.

Citta made her winning prediction by choosing an apple above the blue-and-white Chelsea logo, rather than an apple above the red, white and blue logo of Bayern Munich. The same method will be used before each of the 31 matches during the European championship. Because elephants are believed to have heightened intuition, bookmakers are placing high hopes on Citta's abilities.

Citta has a rival for her psychic crown, however. In the city of Kiev, Ukraine—the other venue for the European Championships—a two-year-old hog called Psychic Pig will be presented with two plates of food before every game. Each plate will be decorated with a national flag, and the plate chosen by Psychic Pig will indicate his choice of winner.

Citta with soccer ball, May 2012.
Photo: PAP/Stanisław Rozpędzik
Source: http://www.thenews.pl/1/5/Artykul/100162,Krakow-elephant-to-be-

To Support Elephant Welfare
Elephant sanctuaries (this Wikipedia list allows you to click through to information
on a number of sanctuaries around the world)
Wildlife Trust of India

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