A Beehive for Ice House Gallery

Artists who work with encaustics are naturally bee lovers as well, and I have often toyed with the idea of a beehive. My friend Bridgette Guerzon Mills made a gorgeous hive for an outdoor art installation, which I find very inspiring.

I started making bees last year and really enjoy the design I came up with. So when the Flora, Fauna and Fascination call for art came along I wanted to give my bees a home. Based on the Swarm exhibit I set about finding a ready-made structure, and found hanging baskets in addition to the wreath shape I used in 2016.

Microtools had sent me additional Now That’s a Jig! Hexes to play with, but I soon found that rather than wrapping around the shape I had in mind, I needed to create what Brenda Schweder calls ‘patternwire’, going around hexes individually and then forming the hive as I went along.

Soon my idea came to life.

I played with different wire gauges for this structure. The green wire is too thin to add wax to, and I liked its loosey-goosey malleability. For a waxy hive look, I used 18 gauge wire that still held the corners of the hexes but also gave enough surface to let wax hold on to it.

Working with long stretches of the oily wire (this roll seemed particularly dirty compared to other spools I have had), I soon looked like I had been subjected to a beating.

As I was making bees I realized the scale was too big for a full hive, so I redesigned my template to make a smaller version of the bee as well, which is so adorable.

Then I had to give each bee an outfit, and I looked up what colors exist in real life.

Other artists dip their paper in encaustic medium directly, but I place my tissue on the griddle and then soak in the encaustic with a brush.

When working in production mode it is important to keep track which wing color belongs to what bee! The wire gets coated with a bit of encaustic medium, and then I iron the paper on to it, and amazingly it all sticks!

Then each bee gets a tailored outfit with the Xacto knife. I watched more Brenda TV for entertainment. This is her on YouTube’s Beads, Baubles & Jewels.

Late at night, I had finished the Collection for Flora, Fauna and Fascination.

In daytime they make a bee-utiful community.

Yes, purple bees are real!

Then I put together the hive components.

I arranged the bees and their honey-making flowers in the hive, and am thrilled with the result.

I’m excited to see it in its new habitat.

Flora, Fauna & Fascination opens Saturday, September 7th and runs through December 28th. It will showcase painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, etc.

Gallery Hours are:  Friday-Saturday 12-6pm & Sunday 12-5pm. Ice House Gallery is open Weekdays by Appointment Only. The gallery location is 609 South Boulevard, Evanston with free street parking. It is also very close to CTA Purple Line South Boulevard stop. I hope to see you there Saturday the 7th!

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