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Recipes for Making Encaustic Wax Medium
Introduction Quick Basics Skillet Batch Basic Recipes Encaustic paint needs to contain wax & colour. The quality of these components & the way in which ingredients interact defines the final character & behavior of the paint. Heat is the solvent for the encaustic medium on this site, so no evaporating solvents are needed nor discussed here.
NOTE: In antiquity it is likely that cold wax pastes were used as well as heated wax colours..

Pigments (and dyes) offer a multitude of qualities apart from the colour they imbue. DAMAR RESIN. melting point and flexibility. One"classic" recipe for making your own encaustic wax is to melt together 85% beeswax with 15% damar resin. The particle size can change the flow character quite dramatically for some application methods. There are also resins that can be mixed with waxes to alter final working qualities of hardness. MICRO Crystalline.often used in encaustic medium include: BEESWAX.. there are many waxes available and different blend of formulation will yield many varieties of character in the encaustic medium. This will result in a strong and quite tough wax medium into which you can gently mill / blend your chosen pigments. . Up to Index QUICK BASICS of MAKING ENCAUSTIC WAX MEDIUM MAIN WAXES .This section describes some modern "home studio" ways to melt and make encaustic medium using domestic hardware or currently available heated tools. The simplest encaustic paint could be a basic mixture of beeswax and some pigment. There are many possibilities in formulation. there are many other types of waxes. However.. * The red sub-index above will take you to the related pages quickly. each with their own unique heat curve and character. If a bulk amount of medium is made first then it is easy to remelt and add colours to suit your needs later. However. It is not a fixed idea. CARNAUBA & PARAFFIN.

Here is a simple small desktop mix for one colour... but does not exceed the safe zone in which the ingredients remain at their best. This begins to melt and the smaller amount of carnauba is added. . damar resin. Ingredients: Beeswax.like a small saucepan. carnauba.In essence making a heat soluble wax paint is simply a matter of melting together the formulation's ingredients in the right proportions and at a temperature that effects the mixing. Stir all the molten ingredients together ... . Once all that is molten the damar is also added and sat back on the hotplate to melt. Excess heat will damage some materials and cause dangers of fuming and potentially even fire. A hotplate is the heat source and the working container is a stainless steel measuring cup . Controlled heat is vital and sensible ventilation is also a firm requirement. then add an amount of pigment and stir this into the molten wax. red pigment. The beeswax is measured into the heated cup which stands on the hotplate.

. It also smells a lot better than damar resin. Place the cup full of damar / carnauba into a double plastic bag. The carnauba is brittle and melts around 80C. similar to the damar. Ingredients in this recipe are roughly measured in the cup volumes as: * 6 x refined beeswax * 1 x damar resin with a little carnauba included in the cup too First plug in the skillet and set the temperature to a medium to get it hot quickly. However. it is a natural plant wax that offers a very high polish shine. Measure out the cup of damar resin crystals.Pour it out into a mold and leave to cool. ready for the crushing to be done. But let's look at the whole process in a little more detail in the next part of this page where a "Skillet Batch" is made. The plastic bags are to constrain the materials whilst they are being smashed into finer pieces with the mallet. Some damage will occur to the plastic bags as the sharp crystals pierce the plastic. Here we added a little bit of carnauba wax into this cup to comply with our chosen recipe. so can add a little of that quality into the mixture. Up to Index MIXING A SKILLET BATCH OF ENCAUSTIC WAX MEDIUM This skillet is an electrically heated pan with a built in thermostat controlling the maximum temperature : imperative to avoid any over-heating. The wooden mallet is to crush this stuff into a more powdery form. De-mold the now cold an set wax colour piece and you have some encaustic paint ready to use. This process enables the damar to melt faster.

here we used a piece of flat scrap timber plank . Check the progress of the crushing every few strokes . . don't use the mallet yet or greater damage will occur to the plastic and crystals or dust might scatter ..... We are using refined white beeswax bought in bulk sack quantity in pellet form.......... This is easy to handle and easy to measure. where the impurities have been removed. The skillet is warming up now.. Beeswax can be natural (raw) or refined.. so the beeswax can be added. then when you are happy with the state of the damar / carnauba particles stop and retain the ingredient until it is time to add it to the molten wax.. but wait. . ready to crush . . Notice how the plastic bag has been damaged? But the large hard crystals are now far smaller and will melt more quickly into the final wax medium.So seal the bag. . then find a solid under board . . so we used an old tee-shirt as a buffer to soften the impact and contain any dust that might escape.

especially some pigments. If things get too hot fumes will rise from the mixture. These harder materials also have a higher melt point at around 80C. The damar and carnauba need things a little hotter to turn into their liquid forms. In the next few minutes the beeswax melted. Beeswax melts at around 62C (about 145F). Notice how the damar is now a syrupy consistency. Notice the slight dust (click on thumb for a bigger image). Stirring was not strictly necessary but it did speed up the process a bit. Some materials. They can take a while to melt. So up the temperature a bit. Overheating is dangerous! As the temperature rises so the stubborn crystal shards melt into the liquid mixture.We used 6 measures of beeswax and poured them straight into the skillet. Better to take a while longer for things to melt than force the ingredients through too high a temperature. Now the crushed damar and carnauba measure is added. so stirring help to mix them into the beeswax. Refining does not alter this melt point. Protect yourself with a mask if you are exposing your breathing to any dusty conditions. but not too much. . can be dangerous. so err on the side of caution. It is not easily melting into the liquid beeswax because the skillet temperature is just a little on the low side.

so ensure that you have protected that with some disposable papers before you start. Carefully pour out the molten wax into the standing containers. . Once everything is molten check that the temperature is as low as will hold the liquid form of this wax medium. The wax will shrink very slightly as it cools. especially as they come with fitting lids that keep dust off during storage.All those bits of woody looking stuff are from the damar resin that we used. It is a natural tree resin and this batch turned out to be quite polluted with small woody dross. Some wax may dribble onto the surface. so fill the containers to a reasonable level. These molds (on left) are actually plastic food containers used for carry out (take away) hot foods. They are designed to withstand high domestic temperatures and are an ideal mold for larger blocks of encaustic medium. Notice now how the syrupy damar has become liquefied and fluid. The encaustic wax medium is now ready to be poured into the final molds. Stir all the ingredients together so that they are thoroughly blended.

the dirt has sunk to the bottom. If we had used natural beeswax then perhaps the overall colour would have been more yellowish. just as in the skillet. Notice that. The dirty tissues can then be thrown away and the skillet is ready for another day. So in effect it is only the bottom layer of wax that is holding these impurities. if there is a lot of impurity in any of the ingredients it will be difficult not to have some enter your molds. tilting . As the wax cools it begins to congeal and cloud back to its solid colouration. This is the base colour of your new encaustic medium. The dirt is visible at the bottom of the mold. You may find that your ingredients are pure and this issue does not arise that is the best way! But if there are impurities then this is a way to deal with them that normally work out well. Here is the unwanted dirt that came from the impure damar resin. Once the wax is congealed it can speed up the cooling up to place the molds by a cool airstream like a window sill. Of course. Clean the skillet out whilst it is still warm using disposable tissue.Pour the wax out carefully so that any dross or rubbish that has been liberated during the melting process remains at the bottom of the skillet.

Use a knife blade to gently scrape off the thing dirty layer. But a sharp hit with the mallet will do the trick. Pick out any slightly more embedded or larger pieces with the knife tip. remember the tee-shirt used when crushing the damar. it can be difficult to cut the thick encaustic wax medium which is now a tougher product than the original beeswax. This can easily be dealt with now. Without melting. However. After this scraping has been done all over the base the dirty wax shavings can be discarded. Breaking off a piece continues to show that the contamination problem only exists in the very bottom level of the medium block. In reality this is a very small portion of the wax that has been made in this batch. . This is laid over the wax before striking with the mallet to save bits flying all over the room! Then the wax breaks into pieces that can be used to make small amounts of differing colours etc. When totally cooled the wax should be quite easy to remove from the molds. This shows that the adhesion to shiny plastics is poor! The top is perfectly clean encaustic wax medium. but the bottom surface is contaminated with all the woody rubbish from the impure damar crystals.the bottom up so air can get all around.

especially by accumulation through breathing in their dust.a desirable improvement for a wax paint medium. Recipes therefore vary. damar resin and / or carnauba wax seems to be the most common mix. It has the effect of helping to raise the melting point of beeswax (around 62 degrees Celsius) to a higher level .Finally. This is largely due to the natural oils within raw beeswax that can affect the surface tension of the molten wax. polishing qualities and so on all become apparent. but a combination of bleached (refined) beeswax. These can be obtained at various melt points and also varying hardness. SOME BASIC RECIPES TO GET STARTED MAKING ENCAUSTIC MEDIUM Beeswax & Damar + Carnauba Wax Emulsion + Paraffins Punic Wax Ancient Approaches : http://www. Each recipe you develop can bring different qualities to your encaustic medium.the water limits the Up to Index achievable temperature range to within safe levels.dieterobrecht. Some people add micro crystalline waxes as well. the natural state of our encaustic wax medium is clear. These can have internal fitting containers (second from left) that are protected from overheating by the surrounding water in which it is immersed. Colour. flexibility. Carnauba wax melts at around 80 degrees Celsius and is brittle. The process is exactly the same as in the skillet batch above. Carnauba wax also polishes to a high sheen. This water jacket double boiler is the safest way to heat wax as it is impossible for it to become dangerously hot . so the character of . Next. find out about Adding Colour Bigger batches can be achieved using commercial double boilers. melt-point. Caution: Some pigments are very toxic. This can cause blotchy areas and varying viscosity within even a single batch of wax.info/encaustic/encaustic_ancient_techniques_1. More about this on the Equipment page * Just one thing. This produces a wax that will polish well but is more brittle than the damar formula. BE CAREFUL and wear a mask if in doubt! The less refined the beeswax the less uniform the resultant wax medium. often used for heating water in catering situations. Some people prefer to add Carnauba wax (a natural plant leaf product) to the beeswax in place of the damar. smell.htm Alternatives Beeswax & Damar The "classic" recipe for making your own encaustic wax is to melt together 85% beeswax with 15% damar resin. This will result in a strong and quite tough wax medium into which you can gently mill / blend your chosen pigments. hardness. It can be remelted at any future time to add pigment. it is impossible to get the cold set encaustic medium out! You must decant or pour it out whilst in the molten state. except that quantities can be increased.

If the container has a flat bottom then it makes it easier to mill in the dry pigment carefully and a little at a time. stirring at times to help them dissolve. a bit like spreading butter onto bread. then coming back to the hotplate and working it into the wax until it reaches the right consistency. recipes. advice and examples of his wax tempera . An open flame is not advisable. Small amounts of any colour can be made by melting some medium on a hotplate and then working in a little pigment . unless you wish to risk overheating. Oil will also soften the final wax to some degree. The process is easiest if some of the beeswax is first melted. so again. Either use a wooden mallet or even a wooden rolling pin end to smash down on the underlying crystals to shatter them. Of course a hotplate is an ideal mixing place that keeps the wax molten and can also be used to lay your tool on top of so that they too remain ready warmed for instant use. To blend in the pigment for production a useful volume of wax paint some molten encaustic wax medium needs to be melted in a heated metal container. Add more wax and continue in this manner until all is molten together. To CRUSH place the crystals in a strong plastic bag then cover this with a cloth and place on a solid robust surface. even if that is a very slight affect it is still involving another medium type unnecessarily. This will ensure that al the particles in the pigment get "wetted" and become contacted by the molten wax. too hot.a resultant wax can be natured toward a more specific set of qualities. smoking and even flammable dangers then stay with low heat and heat limited options. then dry pigment that has been milled as fine as possible is added and stirred in. Up to Index Wax Emulsion Beeswax can also be formed into an emulsion for a cold application liquid medium. using strokes that press down and spread sideways. Visit the web site of Jeff Bryant for lots of information. usually in a metal container either over a very controlled heat source (hotplate) or a double boiler where the water in the central space avoids overheating past its own boiling point (100C). Colouring options are really to use dry pigment or pigments already in oil (oil paints). Same thing with the carnauba. A large flat domestic cooking pallet knife is a good tool to mash the pigment and wax together on the flat bottom of the baking tin. on a hotplate a flat bottomed baking tin can be used to hold the molten wax. The latter will introduce some oil into the final encaustic wax blend. Slowly blend in the crushed ingredients. Electric cooking rings are able to get very hot.even by dabbing the waxed brush head into a pot of dry pigment. For instance. so in pure encaustic this is not something seen as desirable. but it is best to make these as small as possible by crushing first. The coloured encaustic wax can then be poured out into molds to cool and be used in the future or it can just be used there and then. Then stir and pour out into moulds to create sensibly sized pieces for future remelting and for blending in with colours. The better this process is done then the more even the consistency of your final wax paint. Once the beeswax is molten then the damar resin crystals can be added. which is very brittle anyway and will shatter into shards quickly. It is not "wrong" but does seem to defeat the primary idea of using heat as a solvent.

the punic or eleodoric wax. Add a little turpentine with your brush and paint away! These ancients were pretty clever also. Ammoniac. The Greeks and Romans stored their pigments in small covered containers and called them "waxes". around 500 B/C. http://wax-egg-oil. http://www.morenart. scales. dry plaster.1911encyclopedia.paintings.port5. it was called "ganosis". Traces of this wax are found on Egyptian sculptures and tombs as far back as 2500 B/C. (Pliny described the process as boiling beeswax with salt water and potassium carbonate. This will take a while. slate. More about encaustic: http://www.htm Punic Wax 1 five gallons of fresh seawater pure unbleached beeswax not tested by this site. were fond of decorating their statues and the friezes of buildings. this was probably the wax Pliny talked about. You should get a creamy yellow paint. Egypt. This was accomplished by beating the egg into the prepared foamy wax with a little linseed oil and a drop of balsam using a whisk. so please pine resin (balsam and frankincense) check if you have access to other alkaline salts (washing soda and borax) methods for this process too! eggs raw linseed oil pans.it/TuttoEng. Ammoniac is the remains of a long extinct insect that lived in the area. Five days to process the wax with sea water. NH3. sieves. but not water or alcohol. balsam and oils. The early Greeks. before the "Dark Ages". Traces of wax were found on the Trojan Column in Rome.org/Encaustic_painting Wax dissolves in turpentine. marble.com Up to Index Ancient encaustic approaches rediscovered in Rome: Michele Paternuosto introduces his methods to paint encaustic on wood.) Then an hour of defolication with the alkaline salts to change the physical properties of the wax so it would accept being emulsified with the egg yolks. It's non-yellowing and forms an emulsion in lyes. . a salt and gum found in the Qattara Depression 200 miles East of Memphis. AMMONIA-AND-WAX Ammonia. when this wax was applied on stone for decoration. whisk. gesso and terracotta. a water soluble gas. is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen. Three times melted and cured in salt water. leaving the wax a paste consistency. They painted with pure melted encaustic wax and pigment too. pigments in wax and mastic. and probably a lot more places that were not so protected from twenty five hundred years of weather. boiling pots. and then bleached by the sun. mastic.

egg. can be mixed with white beeswax 1:2 and boiled until the effervescence stops. basic NH4OH is a weak alkali. stir the mix until it's cool. This is the ancient "cera colla' paint of the Dark Ages. a salt of carbonic acid. except for the shellac. as a shrine to their god Ammon. Pembrokeshire SA36 0ED UK info@encaustic. as calcium carbonate or ammonium carbonate. turpentine. gelatin. This will be a water soluble wax soap emulsion that will mix with casein. is the Egyptian city founded about 500 B/C. Ammonium carbonate or ammonium hydroxide [common ammonia water]. Ammonium hydroxide. or hygroscopic. a radical that plays the part of a metal in the compound formed when ammonia reacts with acids. Ammonium is also NH4. Potassium carbonate or caustic lye soda. gum. but will remain soluble in water.Ammonium. It will emulsify wax. and it worked fine. I attribute the discovery of cera colla to Egypt and their god Ammon not to Byzantium. like it was before you started. glue. Up to Index GO TO OVERVIEW Arts Encaustic Ltd. are all the same alkali. ammonium salts are alkali. is obtained in the impure form from wood ashes. Grind your store bought dry pigments into it as you need them.com Tel: +44 (0)1239 831401 Fax +44(0)1239 831767 . resin. balsam. H2C03 is formed when carbon dioxide dissolves in water. Glogue. shellac or oil. Put a cap on the container and it will store for a very long time. that was tested right here on Maui. potash [+IUM]. The volatile ammonia alkali dissipates and the soap dries insoluble to water. Carbonate. Giotto added a little cherry gum to the mix and the Byzantine's added a little "milk of fig". made by mixing the ammonium alkali with carbonic acid.

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