For Dawn Tekler, what started out as an attempt to get more out of her photography without the use of Photoshop has blossomed into her first solo show. “I was looking for alternative processes, and I came across the encaustic wax process and it looked so intriguing," says the Cleveland artist. "So I bought a kit and after that, it just sort of took off.” From Feb. 1-March 9, The Truth Lies Beneath the Surface, an exhibit featuring her wax-encased landscape photographs and pressed flowers pieces, will be on display at the Guren Art Gallery at the Cleveland Botanical Garden as a part of Orchid Mania. The Cleveland Institute of Art graduate, who owns the Naji, Naji & Tekler gallery in 78th Street Studios with two other artists, talks to us about finding alternative uses for her griddle and her green thumb.
Cleveland Magazine: Can you describe the encaustic wax process?
Dawn Tekler: It’s painting with hot wax. I have a griddle – basically something that you would make pancakes on, like a Sunbeam griddle – and I have hot wax mixed with oil paint, and I have a heat gun and a paintbrush. As I paint with the hot wax I can control it with the heat gun, keeping it warm or if it cools, I can layer wax on top of cold wax, creating different textures.
CM: How does it preserve over time?
DT: It’s actually an archival process. The encaustic process has been around since between A.D. 100-300. There are Fayum mummy portraits that are still around that have this encaustic wax process. ... It’s beeswax, damar resin and oil paint. Those three things are archival.
CM: How were you inspired by Orchid Mania?
DT: I have a lot of pieces that have orchids incorporated with them. I also grow orchids. So it was a way of ... How I can preserve the labor that I’ve put into the plant ... and make something out of that last a long time?
Want to see more form Dawn Tekler and other local creators? Click here to see her work in Cleveland Magazine's November 2013 "A Handmade Tale" package.