This week, I talked with an artist (you know who you are) who wasn’t aware that wax could be used for fine art painting and mixed media. The subject came up in our discussion over my current collage work. I explained that I was taking my collage work in a new direction where I use an encaustic wax mixture to fuse the collage pieces together. He said that German art schools do not teach encaustic wax techniques. The last time he used wax was when he melted candles in grade school.
Because encaustic art is not popular in Germany, I’m teaching myself using the internet which offers many short tutorials on the basic processes. (Some videos are included at the end of this post). I am not using candles but an encaustic medium which is a mixture of tree resin and wax.
Finding the supplies to create encaustic artwork is not easy. The art stores in Munich do not carry encaustic supplies and Boesner has only a small encaustic selection of paints. You can find all the supplies you need on Amazon or at everything encaustic. I purchased Buffet warmers and a single hot plate for melting the encaustic medium through Amazon. If you are wanting to try creating encaustic artwork, here is a basic list of supplies you will need:
- Work space
- Heat Gun (purchased at Aldi) used to melt paint off of things, in encaustic you use this to fuse the wax between layers or to melt a layer of wax to manipulate it.
- Encaustic medium – I purchased this at Boesner. It comes in a fairly large bag for 100 Euro. You can make your own encaustic medium by melting together bees wax and Damar Resin. Here is a link to some encaustic medium recipes.
- Heat Plate – You can buy this heat plate at Boesner or by buffet warmer plates on Amazon. I’m using the buffet warmer because it is 20 Euro versus 150 Euro. I may invest in the expensive art one if the buffet warmer doesn’t hold up.
- metal containers – I’m using little pans but as you will see in the videos, artists use all kind of metal containers depending on the amount of wax they are melting.
- Color- I’ve experimented with pigment and oil paint. In the videos, you will see how the artists added color to the wax. If you do not add any color to the wax, your art piece will be a creamy color (the color of beeswax.) You can also use inks on the wax and shellacs.
- Brushes – You need a set of brushes for each color wax you will be using. The wax will be inside the brush and you will not be able to use the brushes for anything else but wax. I bought some brushes at Schachinger and also at the hardware store.
- Wax cutting tools. You can carve into the wax and do all kinds of texture on the wax before it hardens. All wax and ceramic cutting tools work well.
- Tape – Painters tape to tape off the edges if you want to have a clean edge. So far I’ve been letting it run all over the place because I like how that looks. In the paintings below, you can see that Nicolet used the encaustic on the sides of her art pieces.
Nicolet Boots is one of the Munich Artists who is using encaustic. She is a Dutch artist living in Germany. Here is a link to her page with more examples of her encaustic work. At her last open studio, I took this photo of Nicolet in front of one of her encaustic pieces.
- Wax – The type of wax used. Usually filtered but unbleached bees wax.
- Encaustic Medium – The bees wax mixed with Damar Resin.
- Encaustic – The Medium with pigment added.
Below is an example of art paper embedded into the wax on a white gesso board. I made the art piece over the weekend. (You need to use a special gesso with encaustics. Do not use acrylic gesso.)
I’m experimenting with the techniques before creating larger pieces using my photographs. So far, I’ve tried art paper, printed illustrations, oil paint, markers and pigment. Tomorrow, I will be experimenting with inks and digital photographs. When I get a bit braver and have a fireproof table, I will try burning the glue/shellac.
If you would like to start creating encaustic art pieces, watch the videos below.
Here are a few vimeo videos which also share information about encaustic.
Here is an example of an encaustic Journal
Here is an example of Encaustic Monotype
Here is a juried exhibition of encaustic artwork: