Encaustic Paint 

Encaustic Paint

What is Encaustic Paint
Encaustic is a wax based paint (composed of beeswax, resin and pigment), which is kept molten on a heated palette. It is applied to an absorbent surface and then reheated in order to fuse the paint.  The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in, referring to the process of fusing the paint. ...

What is Encaustic Paint
Encaustic is a wax based paint (composed of beeswax, resin and pigment), which is kept molten on a heated palette. It is applied to an absorbent surface and then reheated in order to fuse the paint.  The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in, referring to the process of fusing the paint.  Although they come from the same root word, ‘encaustic’ should not be confused with ‘caustic,’ which refers to a corrosive chemical reaction. There is no such hazard with encaustic.

Opulence. Encaustic is perhaps the most beautiful of all artists' paints, and it is as versatile as any 21st century medium. It can be polished to a high gloss, carved, scraped, layered, collaged, dipped, cast, modeled, sculpted, textured, and combined with oil. It cools immediately, so that there is no drying time, yet it can always be reworked.

Wax is its own varnish. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass because encaustic, which is the most durable of all artists' paints, is its own protector. This is because beeswax is impervious to moisture, which is one of the major causes of deterioration in a paint film. Wax resists moisture far more than resin varnish or oil. Buffing encaustic will give luster and saturation to color in just the same way resin varnish does.

No yellowing. Encaustic paint will not yellow  or darken. However, wax itself is photoreactive, so unpigmented encaustic medium that has been kept in dark storage will darken slightly. When re-exposed to light that darkening will bleach out.

No solvents. Encaustic paint does not require the use of solvents. As a result, a number of health hazards are reduced or eliminated.

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Encaustic Tools

A heated palette is an essential tool to the encaustic artist. It provides a surface to heat and mix encaustic paint and medium on. R&F’s palettes are designed specifically with the encaustic painter in mind and feature an anodized aluminum surface, which prevents reactivity that could discolor pigments. The versatile aluminum surface also makes it easy to see paint colors. Artists have the option of using palette cups or mixing their colors directly on the surface.

12" X 12" PALETTE
The 12” x 12” (30.5cm x 30.5cm) palette features a Baltic Birch base, separate heating element, and comes preassembled and ready-to-use in the home studio.  The 12” x 12” palette is an ideal compact size for a studio with limited space.

Palette Cups can be used to melt large amounts of paint at one time. They are excellent for keeping colors pure, or for saving mixes. Our palette cups are made of a heavy aluminum and steel alloy. Large Rectangular cups can hold one 104 ml cake and is offered in a handy 3-pack.

Palette Thermometer

This is an essential component of painting safely with encaustics. Perfect for reading the temperature of your encaustic palette or other heated surfaces. The surface thermometer has a temperature range of 50°-600° F.

The R&F heated handle, temperature regulator and screw-on tips allow the artist to fuse and manipulate the encaustic surface with ease.
HEATED HANDLE
The wooden handle plugs into the temperature regulator and has the ability to accept interchangeable tips.

TEMPERATURE REGULATOR
The temperature regulator is a necessary component to keep the heated tools at a safe working temperature. This regulator accepts one tool at a time and plugs into a standard 120 v. household outlet.

HEATED SCREW-ON TIPS
These functional tools vary in size and are designed for use with the R&F heated hand tool.  Available in:
Burnisher - The burnisher is useful for smoothing the surface and for mark making
Horn - The horn is pointed for scribing. Its curved side is great for adding texture to the surface. The marks it makes are similar to those on the ancient Fayum portraits.
Iron - The iron has a flat bottom and tapers to a sharp point.  Useful for smoothing and mark making.

R&F’s Encaustic tools help the professional artist finesse the surface of their encaustic paintings with control and precision like never before. Designed after the tools that the first practitioners of encaustic used in ancient times, they can be used with or without heat to create a more refined surface. These tools are made of high carbon steel and are expertly finished.
R&F Encaustic Paints

Encaustic is a wax based paint (composed of beeswax, resin and pigment), which is kept molten on a heated palette. It is applied to an absorbent surface and then reheated in order to fuse the paint.  The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in, referring to the process of fusing the paint.  Although they come from the same root word, ‘encaustic’ should not be confused with ‘caustic,’ which refers to a corrosive chemical reaction. There is no such hazard with encaustic.

Opulence. Encaustic is perhaps the most beautiful of all artists' paints, and it is as versatile as any 21st century medium. It can be polished to a high gloss, carved, scraped, layered, collaged, dipped, cast, modeled, sculpted, textured, and combined with oil. It cools immediately, so that there is no drying time, yet it can always be reworked.

Wax is its own varnish. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass because encaustic, which is the most durable of all artists' paints, is its own protector. This is because beeswax is impervious to moisture, which is one of the major causes of deterioration in a paint film. Wax resists moisture far more than resin varnish or oil. Buffing encaustic will give luster and saturation to color in just the same way resin varnish does.

No yellowing. Encaustic paint will not yellow  or darken. However, wax itself is photoreactive, so unpigmented encaustic medium that has been kept in dark storage will darken slightly. When re-exposed to light that darkening will bleach out.

No solvents. Encaustic paint does not require the use of solvents. As a result, a number of health hazards are reduced or eliminated.

UNDERSTANDING ENCAUSTIC

Encaustic is a beeswax-based painting medium that is worked with heat.  It can be used as a luminous traditional painting medium, but it also has the potential to obscure the boundaries between mediums like no other art material, resulting in works that are just as much about painting or sculpture as they are about photography, drawing, printmaking, installation or a variety of craft techniques. Artists of all kinds are discovering its unifying potential, unique properties and versatility.

Painting with encaustic is a multi-step process.  First, the paint must be melted, or liquefied.  Next, the molten paint is applied to a porous surface. Then the applied wax is reheated, or fused into, the working surface, allowing it to form a good bond.  As a final option, the cooled paint can be buffed to bring up the luster of the wax and resin.

BASIC SET-UP SUGGESTIONS
•  You will need a clean level counter or worktable to put a heated palette on.  When setting up your worktable take into consideration the space that your palette will occupy and give yourself extra room for additional materials. 
•  You will want to make sure that your work area has proper ventilation. Exhaust fans in windows, cross-ventilation, or a studio ventilation system are all good options.  It is important that you have a source of fresh air in your workspace. 
•   It will be imperative that you have adequate electrical outlets available for use. Consider that you will have a palette, possibly a heat gun and/or other tools that will require electricity and it will be helpful to position your workspace accordingly. 
•  Keep in mind that anytime you use heated tools/equipment it is recommended that you have a burn kit and a fire extinguisher on-hand for safety purposes.  

WORK SURFACE
A counter or table to hold an electric palette, heat gun, tools and your work-in-progress.

VENTILATION
Though not unpleasant to smell, wax fumes should be treated like solvent fumes.  A well-placed window fan should be adequate for a small set-up.  Click here to read our Ventilating Your Studio for Encaustic Paints Technical Sheet.


SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Your workspace should be free of any solvents and flammable materials.  A burn kit and fire extinguisher are also recommended.

TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT

HEATED PALETTE
The heated palette is an essential tool to the encaustic artist.  It provides a surface to heat and mix encaustic paint and medium on. Less expensive alternatives to purchasing a custom palette include electric skillets, crock-pots or electric griddles.  R&F’s heated palettes are designed specifically for encaustic  painters and feature an anodized aluminum surface which prevents reactivity that could discolor pigments.  The versatile aluminium surface also makes it easy to see paint colors. Regardless of the palette you select, it is important that it be equipped with temperature controls.

PALETTE SURFACE THERMOMETER
It is crucial to be able to monitor the surface temperature of your palette.  A surface thermometer can easily assist you in monitoring the temperature of your palette (the safe working temperature for encaustic paint ranges from 180-200°F). For this reason, R&F offers a heavy duty Thermometerthat sits on top of your palette surface.

FUSING TOOLS
As you apply layers of paint to your support you will want to fuse (or re-heat) each layer to ensure that it is adhered to your ground or substrate.  It is important to fuse between layers to prevent them from separating.  There are two methods for fusing; either indirect (heat gun, torches, light bulbs, or sunlight) or direct (tacking irons, spatulas, heated brushes, plaster tools, palette and paint knives, etc.)

BRUSHES
Use natural bristle brushes only;  synthetic brushes can burn and melt on the palette.

MARK-MAKING TOOLS
Any type of mark-making tool will work with Encaustic paint.  We recommend etching, wood carving dental, sculpture, and clay working tools.

SUPPORTS
For best results, encaustic should be painted on a rigid, absorbent, and heat resistant surface.  Examples include: wood (maple or birch plywood), heavy watercolor or printmaking paper glued to board, or raw canvas glued to board (avoid pre-gessoed canvas boards).  Please note that you can use  paper as your support, but you will want to consider the size and rigidity of the paper.  

Three-dimensional or sculptural work that is porous and rigid can also be used. Plaster, stone, wood, terra cotta, or cast paper are all acceptable surfaces to work on.  

SOY OR PARAFFIN WAX
There are two options for clean-up, either Soy or Paraffin wax.  We recommend using soy wax for clean-up because soybeans are a renewable resource, while paraffin is a petroleum based product.  An additional benefit to using soy wax is that it can be washed off with soap and water leaving brushes supple.

PALETTE CUPS
Great for keeping melted waxes separate on your palette.  R&F carries heavy aluminum and steel alloy rectangular palette cups in two sizes (sm|lg) to fit our 40 ml and 104 ml cakes. 

ENCAUSTIC PAINTS
There really is no general recommendation for a starter palette of colors, since different artists have individual preferences, but we recommend that you choose a good balance of opaque and transparent colors.  Try starting with a red, yellow and blue, and build from there.

R&F Encaustic Paint Medium
Encaustic Medium is an essential component to encaustic painting. Beeswax on its own will remain soft; the addition of damar resin raises the melting temperature and will allow the beeswax to cure and harden over time.  Our medium is composed of 100% USP beeswax and damar resin. Medium is typically used to create transparency and extend encaustic colors. It can also be used for mixed media and sculptural applications. Encaustic Medium is the encaustic paint without pigment. 

Beeswax is the chief component of our encaustic paint. Our beeswax has been decolorized by mechanical filtration, rather than through bleaching which breaks the wax down. Filtering the wax is gentler process that makes it less reactive to pigments than chemical bleaching. The wax comes granulated so that it is easier to measure and to melt. You can use beeswax as the prime ingredient, along with damar resin, for making your own encaustic medium. Beeswax can also be used on its own, but without the resin the surface will remain soft, as is the nature of the material.

Damar is a hard natural resin that comes from a family of deciduous trees that grow in the East Indies. In encaustic paint damar resin is the most common ingredient for hardening the beeswax and raising its melting temperature. Damar allows the wax to be buffed to a higher, more translucent surface and helps prevent blooming in the wax. To use the damar in making your own encaustic medium, it must be melted in the beeswax and strained. You can make Damar varnish by dissolving the resin in turpentine.

Soy wax (actually partially hydrogenated soybean oil) is an excellent alternative to paraffin for cleaning brushes for several reasons. Soy beans are a renewable resource, unlike paraffin, which is a petroleum product. Soy wax is non-toxic and is naturally biodegradable.  Soy wax is also easier to remove than paraffin wax, so after the color has been cleaned out of the brush, the brush can be washed with soap and water and is reusable in other mediums.

R&F’s Encaustic Gesso provides an easy-to-use, water-based ground specifically formulated for use with encaustic paints. This gesso differs from typical acrylic gessos by having a higher proportion of solid to binder, making it highly absorbent while retaining the adhesive qualities of the acrylic. With our Encaustic Gesso you can easily brush or roll on a white ground that quickly dries to a ready-to-paint surface.