The Albuquerque artist discovered the 5,000-year-old technique at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, where she took an encaustic jewelry class. The results opened up a world of mixed-media paintings, one-of-a-kind prints, dolls, lanterns and more.
Simmons’ work will be available at the 29th Annual Old Church Fine Crafts Show in Corrales this weekend. The show, in the San Ysidro Church, features jewelry, paper, clay, prints, watercolor, pottery, fiber art, gourd art, handmade books, stained glass, beadwork and more. Prices range from $2 to $450.
This year marks Simmons’ debut at the show. Her inspiration springs from nature, architecture and symbols.
Originally from Chicago, the artist moved to New Mexico in 2006. She never took an art class in either high school or college. Simmons worked as a nurse but always kept busy with crafts. A 1997 pottery class led her to precious metal clay for making jewelry. Encaustic expanded her artistic vision even more.
“It’s a combination of beeswax and tree sap resin,” she said. “It’s very forgiving. You can put something down on a wooden panel; if you don’t like it, you can heat it off.”
Simmons created a flower jewelry box using a repurposed carved wooden container. The top features an encaustic painting made with a dried flower petal.
“The yellow lines and dots are carved in with a hot tool,” she said.
Her altered paper collage “A Walk on the Wild Side” started with a National Geographic magazine. She sprayed the pages with Citrasolve concentrate, a cleaning solution that smells of oranges.
“It’s kind of mottled with unusual shapes,” Simmons said of the results. “Then I tear them up and apply them to mat board. Then I add images from other magazines.”
She made what she calls a “message doll” using encaustic monotypes, pastels and India ink for the clothing. A purse hugs a rolled scroll.
“Usually it’s a quote or a message I made up like ‘courage’ or ‘peace and healing,’ ” she said. “The string is her hair, and she has earrings on and a pendant. One time, I tore the strings apart and made curly hair. They’re kind of talismans.”
Some collages have included an avian theme.
“One was a chicken crossing the road,” Simmons said. “I sold it to the guy who owns the chicken company in Corrales. It was, ‘I’d like to live in a world where chickens aren’t questioned about their motives.’
“Chickens don’t cross the road. They’re not stupid.”
All event proceeds go toward preservation and maintenance of San Ysidro Church. The Corrales Historical Society’s Visual Arts Council sponsors the event.