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Wax Letterforms

This was a short design project I made in Summer 2023 as part of the Typography short course at the RCA. The brief for this project was to think about materiality and to create unique letterforms using unusual materials, production processes, or methods of mark-making. 

 

I created these letterforms by dripping wax from a lit candle on to greaseproof paper, then transferring it to a lightbox to photograph once set.

 

For this brief, I considered materials and the theme of change.

 

Materials that change state? Heating and cooling? Burning and freezing? Flexible to solid? Fresh to decayed? Liquid to solid? 

 

Materials that respond and change based on lighting? Reflectivity? Translucency? I love the inherent translucency in wax and I think it photographs beautifully with backlight. 

Here I experimented with using the letterforms in different ways - a mockup tour poster for the Viagra Boys based on the details from one of their existing posters, some four letter word arrangements, and an illegible blue blob which is what happened when all the letters were stacked upon one another in Photoshop. I think that one might be my favourite. 

 

What I loved most about this process was the parts of the lettering that I couldn't control. Wax is a fickle medium, and I only had one blue candle. The more letters I created, the more the paper underneath warped and puckered. This led the wax to run and drip in unusual ways, especially towards the end of the alphabet.

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