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Approaches for Working with Encaustic Medium & Paint
Encaustic paint needs to contain wax & colour. The quality of these components & the way in which ingredients interact defines the final character & behavior the paint. Heat is the solvent for the encaustic medium, so no evaporating solvents are needed.
There are many techniques relating to the encaustic art wax blocks on the links at the top of this page. The section below will be looked at as time unfolds!
hotplate palette
tins' brushes,rollers
japanese knives & hot air hot air & sponges layering
pouring carving through crayoning on embedding collage
brushing iron for close-up palette dripping splattering
impasto overlay dribbling blowing
hotplate big hotplate ! iron direct stylus & tips

An Apology

This is such a huge topic, such a big page, that some time iwas needed to face the work involved in making a worthy reference here. Some topics are sketched in and some have links to other parts of this site that deal primarily with the Encaustic Art range of products.

.. unfortunately, this area of the site is now archived and I never did find the time to do all that could be here.


Up to Index - below is some old information on supports...

...with a sealed surface makes an ideal support for encaustic art waxes and any other encaustic wax medium that you require to be easily re-workable.. The trick is in the wax adhering to the surface without saturating or dirtying the body of the card. This type of card surface is ideal for experimental and "process" based working but, because of it's flexibility, is not well suited to thick applications of wax unless it is fixed securely to a rigid under board with a permanent glue or similar. Thick wax becomes far less flexible than a thin coating and can easily crack if bent too sharply.

White card gives a good reflectivity for the light that penetrates the translucent wax colours. Coloured card can also provide an interesting and effective support for encaustic work. A gloss surface is ideal for artwork where the process of working colours with heated tools offers a constantly present opportunity to change the forms of the colour and re-work the waxes into new patterns, images, etc. Most coloured card is single faced and so after being work it is best to fix it with a suitable glue to a more rigid under-board (display board or masonite / MDF are all good.
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MDF & Plywood
Medium Density Fibre-board is a man-made composite constructed from wood particles glued together under compression to form a flat and stable sheet. It is normally available up to 8' x 4' but many DIY stores have 4' x 2' pieces in a variety of thicknesses. The value of this as a support for encaustic is that it offers a rigid and stable surface for working onto and allows much thicker applications and build-up of waxes than a flexible support can hold.

You can paint the wax straight onto the MDF surface if you wish, but the wax is easily absorbed and saturating the surface can consume a lot of wax and time. Better perhaps to seal the surface of the MDF with a solution of white wood glue and water. The glue is available in most DIY store and can also be used as an additive for strengthening and water-proofing cement. Mix about 30% glue with 70% water and give one coat of this to the MDF (or plywood). In fact this sealer will work on almost any absorbent surface. Allow it to dry then work with your waxes. Alternatively you could apply an acrylic - clear, white or coloured - or perhaps a gesso.

There are numerous working methods for applying the wax, ranging from the use of molten wax and cold natural hair brushes through to the use of electric paint stripper hot air guns, heat lamps and hand held heating wands. We'll add more when time allows and someone nudges us for more information on this!
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Line Board

Line board is a smooth high quality paper facing bonded during manufacture to a rigid cardboard backing which is usually about 3 to 4mm thick. It is used primarily in presentation of high quality technical drawings such as an architect might produce. It is normally available in A1 and A2 sizes. This type of support material is very good for encaustic work where there may be some thicker wax build-up that would be unsuitable for the thinner sealed card. Of course, you can stick the regular sealed card onto a backing board and produce a surface very much like line board yourself.

This material is rigid but lighter than MDF or plywood. Wax colour can be applied directly to the line board surface in numerous working manners and will perform very well for the majority of uses.
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But which fabric should you use? Well, Just about any will work but the factors to consider are:

  • Texture of the weave - finer weaves give a more perfectly even surface
  • Thickness and absorbency of the fabric - natural absorbs more than man-made
  • Weight of the Fabric - heavier fabrics can hang better than light ones
  • Presentation of the work piece - some fabrics can be stretched better than others

    There are many ways to work waxes on fabric.
    Sealed card wax artwork can be "printed off" onto a fabric. This is great for decorative effects and will yield a reverse print. Silk and fine weave fabrics are well suited to this technique so long as the wax on the art being printed is not too thick.
    Wax can be applied to the fabric directly with brushes or low-heat tools Normally the fabric would be stretched on a frame of some sorts for this approach or it can be stretched or laid over a heated tray or table (plate warmer). Many devices can be made to generate sufficient controlled low-heat.

    In the 1800's a man named Count Caylus experimented with comparisons of oil and encaustic artworks. He placed similar paintings done in each medium in a number of situations; in an attic (dry), in the cellar (damp), outside in the open air (weather, sun, rain & frost). According to his reports the encaustic pieces outlasted the oils in quality in every situation.
    His technique involved stretching fabric - maybe canvas, onto a frame of wood. He then rubbed beeswax over one side of this stretched fabric until it was well imbedded in the fibres. The actual painting was executed using water borne pigments and brushes onto the non-waxed side of the fabric. When the painting was complete he would bring the framed work close to the fire until the beeswax totally melted into the fabric, invading the complete fibres and also capturing the pigments. His book is in the British Library.
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    Working onto canvas can be achieved in several ways but it is important to ensure that the fabric is stretched over a rigid background support (MDF / plywood / masonite) to avoid the thicker areas of applied wax paint from cracking.

    1. Brushes can be used to apply molten wax paint to the canvas directly.
    2. The canvas can be stretched over a heated surface - hot plate or hot table - and the wax colours then applied by drawing like crayon / pastel or with brushes / knives, etc.
    3. See the Count Caylus method in the section above
    Canvas can be primed so that the absorption of the wax colours is less. Remember that thicker areas of wax are also susceptible to scratching is exposed to rough handling, so consider whether to glaze the artwork if it is in a hanging situation where its surface could otherwise be touched.
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    There are so many more supporting materials that could be mentioned here! Metals, Glass, Stone, all manner of Paper's, Plastics, etc. In time we will add more of this information and expand these pages...
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