Making an Image Transfer onto Encaustic

Meet Mixed Media Artist Supria Karmakar and Learn Her Encaustic Artistic Process, featured in The Mixed Media Artist by Seth Apter.

(This interview and tutorial was previously published in The Mixed-Media Artist, copyright 2013 by Seth Apter. It is republished here courtesy of North Light Books and


When the true essence of creativity flows from me, I believe it is my muse’s creation that is being portrayed and birthed into the world. My passion is mixed-media works. Each piece I create, I see as a container for the unfolding of a story with layers of narrative that serves to delight, provide meaningful insight and/or provide the viewer a place of comfort and connection, whether it be joyous or melancholy.

A motto I live my artistic life by
“Non-attachment to outcome.”

3 Things I’m Inspired By
– Frida Kahlo’s life and work
– Rumi’s poetry
– Nature, stories and people

4 Things on My Studio Table
– Encaustic medium with hot plate/griddle
– A propane torch, heat gun, iron
– Dental, kitchen or pottery tools for gouging
– Found objects


The Face I Show the World: Seeing Clearly Who I Am

I often see myself as a bird with the ability to take flight and travel to alternate places, seeking new experiences and seeing life as full of opportunities with vast possibilities. This piece is a twist on my self-portrait, which portrays myself as a bird, peeling away the layers, beneath which clarity is found, as symbolized by the imagery of the eyes, both on the surface, magnified by the optician lens, and buried within the layers.

Artistic Process: Making an Image Transfer onto Encaustic

Supria uses this process frequently in her work, and now you can, too.

finished encaustic painting
metal spoon (for burnishing)
spray bottle of water
laser- or toner-based copy (on lightweight paper)
propane torch or heat gun
clear encaustic medium and encaustic brush

Karmakar step1

1. Prepare the area where you would like to place your image transfer by applying some heat to the area with the propane torch or heat gun. The area needs to be warm to the touch (not molten liquid) and recently fused with heat within ten minutes of making the transfer. (Cold surfaces will not take the image transfer.)

Karmakar step2

2. Prepare your image transfer copy by tearing away any excess white paper.

Karmakar step3

3. Lay it on the area where you would like the image to transfer, making sure that the area is still warm to the touch. While it should be warm, it shouldn’t be too soft. Using a clean spoon, burnish the copy in a circular motion for about three minutes.

Karmakar step4

4. Spray the top of the burnished image with water to soak the paper. With the balls of your fingertips (don’t use your fingernails), roll off the soaked paper from the surface. The carbon from the photocopy is left burnished onto your work, but the paper rolls off with the water application.

Karmakar step5

5. The carbon that is released onto the work is sitting on the surface at this point and needs to be gently fused to the previous layer of your work. Using a heat gun, heat the image transfer carbon gently with a circular motion so it fuses to the previous layer. Be careful not to apply too much heat or go too close to your work with the heat gun or your carbon image might shift or possibly break apart.

Karmakar step6

6. After the image on the work has had a chance to cool down, apply a clear layer of encaustic medium over the carbon image transfer to protect it from getting scratched.

Karmakar step7

7. Using a circular motion, apply a second heat application with your heat gun, being careful not to get too close to the image transfer. Use enough heat to set the thin layer of medium and to get rid of your brush marks and smooth out the surface.

Karmakar final

Your transfer process is now complete. You could leave it on the surface or bury it into the background by applying more translucent colors over the image.

Visit Supria at her website,

Visit Seth’s blog, The Altered Page.

(This tutorial and interview was previously published in the North Light book, The Mixed-Media Artist, copyright 2013 by Seth Apter. It is republished here courtesy of

Cover_U2959.inddClick here to find out more about The Mixed-Media Artist by Seth Apter.

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