Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Black beeswax tablet of Nalvage

So last night the good Frater and I completed the carving on the Tablet of Nalvage. After many remelts and near heart attacks getting the form just so... and the color just right... I am quite pleased with the outcome.

In order to make your own here are the steps I recommend. First find 2 pounds of raw beeswax, 1 black candle dye block (enough for 20 pounds), 1 9 inch baking pan and an inordinate amount of patience.

Your goal is to melt enough of the wax to give you a 1.5 inch disk when cooled. If you get the oven over 200 degrees the wax turns a slightly darker color. If you get it below 180 it will not melt. Keep an eyeball on it. Your first melt is to get the goo out of the wax. Raw wax has all sorts of bee parts and in my case contained a few bees. I set the oven to 225 and the kitchen timer to 11 minutes, over and over for the better part of an hour. I know I am a gematria geek. Each time it went off, I would check the wax pick out any large gooey parts (like bees) and reset the process.

After it is all melted ( at least an hour for our ancient oven) I moved it to a butcher block to cool. Once it cooled I set it in the freezer for an hour to get the tablet unsealed from the pan. It then popped right out. This first melt will leave all sorts of odd gooey bits on the smooth side of the tablet. I took an exacto knife and scrapped off every bit of much I could find. It was about a 2 hour process. ( I kept hearing my fathers old phrase about "Picking the fly shit out of the pepper" run through my mind). After it is as clean as you can get it. Start all over at the remelting stage. I did this twice to get here.

Then when the tablet is still liquid and in the oven, drop in that WHOLE block of black candle dye. Screw what the package says. Use the whole freaking thing. We tried following the directions for dye to wax ratios... they do not apply for beeswax. TRUST ME HERE. Then allow it to melt in the oven for a few minutes. Stir it and put it back in the oven. Do this until the wax is supersaturated and you have a smooth color. It took about 3 of these sets for me.

Then pull it out of the oven and place it on a cooling rack or such. Just make sure that the surface is flat or boy will you know it when you are done. After it is cooled COMPLETELY ( no cheating or it cracks) place it in the freezer. After about an hour it will have pulled away from the sides cleanly and voila.

We then placed a photocopied picture on top of the tablet. Using a corsage ( or any other sewing pin) poke holes in the paper like old sewing tracing wheels. When you remove the paper you have a pretty good outline for your tablet. We then took turns carving it using a combination of embossing tools, clay tools and sewing pins.

More to come on the lamen and rings, but now I am exhausted and the meds are kicking in.



Susanne Iles said...

I was going to leave a long dissertation on the beauty of this piece..but I have found myself for a loss of words. The only thing I can think of saying is, "WOW!"

My Gal said...

Thank you very much! I am most pleased with the outcome. I think that everyone should work on wax tablets at some point. It is a very wild medium that is organic and flowing. Very odd indeed.

Frater Servitor said...

Very nicely done.