plaster, wax, and book art

 |  February 19, 2013

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” -John Muir

I believe I’m starting to see how my new environment is affecting my work. I am now located right outside of Chicago, really close, but yet a world away it seems because I live near a forest preserve. Trees, trees, trees wherever I am. I took a winter walk recently and felt so inspired by it. I have always felt at home among trees. I really didn’t realize how much I missed them until I was back among them. Believe me, I’m not in the wilderness by any means. Just a close suburb of Chicago, but still it’s a different world out here.

All that to say that when I worked on some books to bring as samples for my encaustic book workshops coming up, the woods and the nature that are my daily visuals naturally asserted themselves.

This pile:

Work in progress

Work in progress

which finally became:

#bookarts #nature #mixedmedia
Walking the Earth
encaustic mixed media

I have walked this earth for 30 years, and, out of gratitude, want to leave some souvenir.”-Vincent van Gogh

I created another book using plaster as the pages, and this book was inspired by my winter walk that I had taken earlier in the week.

Love Notes to Winter
encaustic mixed media book

detail of inside pages

Ever since I learned about how to work with plaster from Stephanie Lee several years ago, I have using it in several different ways with encaustic. Plaster creates such a wonderful base for encaustic. And when it comes to making books, it provides a nice mix of rigidity, with some flexibility. And then, of course, there’s the texture. No more words needed when it comes to that.

In my upcoming workshops, the one in April and then the one in October, I will be sharing how I have used plaster for several different book art forms. We will also be working with paper, but because my upcoming workshop in April is a multiday one, we will have enough time to create book structures with the plaster and let them dry over night so that we can wax on top the next day. I’m excited to share this process.


If you’re in the Pacific Northwest or have always thought about heading out there for a 3-day workshop of making book art and incorporating encaustic, come join me in April at the PacificNorthwest Art School for Books of Images and Wax workshop.


Book art is the use of book form as a vehicle for deeper meaning and expression. They often invite interaction and physical exploration. In this workshop we will create several books that will hold our explorations in a variety of mixed media techniques, with a special focus on incorporating encaustic. The three days of this workshop will focus on how to combine photographs with encaustic to make personal statements with your artwork. Using personal imagery helps us to create stories with our art. We will also cover other mixed media techniques besides wax to create photo and image transfers to create personal meaning on your pages. We will create surfaces with texture and depth and how to integrate your images with those surfaces.

Encaustic is the perfect partner for a wide variety of mixed media techniques. We will have a day of painting in encaustic, which will cover the basics of painting in this ancient medium of beeswax and pigment. This day will give you the foundation in order to feel comfortable in further exploring the possibilities of painting in wax. We will also cover safety and studio set-up. The other two days we will create three different types of book structures- an accordion book, an exposed stitched book, and a book made of plaster pages. All three books will house our encaustic and mixed media explorations.

All levels welcome, whether you are a beginner to the book arts or encaustic painting. Students are encouraged to bring their own photographs and imagery to work with.

To register for this class, please contact the Pacific NorthWest Art School
15 NW Birch Street
Coupeville WA 98239

Phone: 360-678-3396
Toll-Free: 1-866-678-3396

Office Hours: Monday – Friday (9am-4pm)


  1. by Roberta on February 19, 2013  9:58 am Reply

    Wonderful book with the branches! I once took a book arts class and loved it. I made some wonderful things. Lately I just made some pamphlet stitched sketch books to bring on my trip out to the desert. I like the idea of making my own sketch books.

    • by bridgette on February 25, 2013  4:28 pm Reply

      Thanks Roberta. It is a nice feeling to have a book that is made by your own hands, filled with your own sketches and writing. It just feels "right".

  2. by ArtPropelled on February 19, 2013  10:54 am Reply

    Once again your art is tugging at my heart strings. Walking the Earth.... Love notes to Winter... and the detail image..... just wonderful!!

    • by bridgette on February 25, 2013  4:28 pm Reply

      Thanks so much Robyn, that means so much!

    • by bridgette on February 25, 2013  4:29 pm Reply

      thanks Michelle. A pendant? hmmmm. Interesting idea!

  3. by mary on February 19, 2013  1:01 pm Reply

    These are so lovely. Any chance you might give the class a little closer to home one of these days--say, in LaGrange? I'd love to learn the plaster technique.

    • by bridgette on February 25, 2013  4:30 pm Reply

      Thanks Mary. I wish I were. Unfortunately life has been so crazy with moving, etc. that I didn't get a class proposal in for LaGrange.

  4. by Seth on February 20, 2013  8:11 pm Reply

    Oh to be at the class in Coupeville! Three days of pure art bliss. 'Love Notes' is spectacular. I must see that one in person one day!

    • by bridgette on February 25, 2013  4:30 pm Reply

      Thanks Seth. You'd love the texture in this one! :)

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