Using Ceracolors with Encaustic | Water-Soluble Wax Emulsion Tube Paint

What are Wax Emulsion Water-Soluble Paints?

Water-soluble wax paints are tube paints comprised of pigments in a wax binder. Although the manufacturers are branding them as encaustic paints they are better described as wax emulsion tube paint that can be an interesting complement to encaustic. 

Wax emulsion tube paints allow encaustic artists to experience a more painterly process, a process that is more often associated with other painting media. You can blend and mix Ceracolors together on a palette and use a brush or palette knife to brush and dab them on your painting. Water-soluble wax paints can be used on their own or in combination with a number of painting mediums. 

There are two brands currently available, Ceracolors from Natural Pigments in the U.S. and Encaustic Cuni from Spain. Encaustic Cuni can be purchased from Miles Conrad Encaustics in the US. There isn’t a Canadian distributor. In Canada, Ceracolors can be purchased from Articulations or from artist Joya Paul.


  • cannot be mixed directly into molten wax
  • don’t require any heated tools or ventilation
  • can be applied with either a brush or a palette knife
  • can be used underneath and on top of encaustic wax
  • are fast drying but can be reopened with water
  • come in vibrant, rich colours and the gold and pearl give a beautiful metallic appearance
  • clean up of brushes and tools is easy with soap and water

Using Ceracolors with Encaustic

When using Ceracolors with encaustic it is good to know how the tube paint will react with the hot wax.

  1. Safety—Ceracolors have been made with ingredients found in food and cosmetics and therefore are not considered to be toxic—so it is safe to fuse at low temperatures. As with all new products it is wise to review the Material Safety Data Sheet prior to first use.
  2. Fluid Medium—If you want to use Ceracolors with encaustic medium, you’ll need to fuse the colours, according to the manufacturer this is more successfully done with the addition of Ceracolors Fluid Medium.
  3. Watercolor Effect—The plus of Ceracolors is their intensity. You can create a vibrant watercolour wash by thinning Ceracolors down with fluid medium or water. I did this directly on the substrate as an underpainting before coming in with hot wax.
  4. Drying—Ceracolors dry in two stages. First, the paint dries quickly as the water in the paint evaporates. The paint is dry to the touch in a short time. After this initial period, the paint can be reopened with a wet brush. During the second stage, wax crystals coalesce as the paint cures. This can take several days or several weeks for thicker applications of paint.
  5. Encaustic over Ceracolors—Before applying encaustic medium over Ceracolors, you need to lightly fuse to ensure that all of the water has evaporated out of the water-soluble paint
  6. Ceracolors over Encaustic—When you paint with Ceracolors on top of Encaustic medium, they will dry to an opaque and matte finish. After the painting has cured (which can take several weeks) the painting can be buffed to an eggshell finish.

Ceracolors Mediums

Ceracolors Mediums can be thought of as colourless wax paints, as they are composed of the same or similar waxes as are Ceracolors paints. They can be used to extend the paints and to change their consistency.

Ceracolors Fluid Medium:

Fluid Medium is useful for extending Ceracolors and for creating glazes and increasing translucency. If you are going to be fusing Ceracolors, they advise using Fluid Medium.

Ceracolors Paste Mediums:

Mixing Paste Medium into Ceracolors, will thicken the paint and give it more body for impasto-like effects. You can add Ceracolors Paste Mediums directly to Ceracolor paint on the palette or in a container.

  1. Molding Paste One way that Joya Paul uses the Molding Paste is to spread the paste through a stencil with a palette knife. Molding Paste is gray but can be tinted with any Ceracolors paint. Molding paste is compatible with encaustic but as you can easily use encaustic medium through a stencil and to build up texture I didn’t feel that this was a necessary product for encaustic.
  2. Fiber Paste is less dense than Molding Paste and can be used to create light, opaque, textured impastos effects. The mineral fibers provide a papier-mâché-like texture. 

A friend who has tried both of these found that the Molding Paste is best used in thin layers since it will crack as it dries if the layer is too thick. Fiber Paste can build up layers quickly without the worry of cracking.

Ceracolors Gel Medium:

Ceracolors Gel Medium can be used with Ceracolors as an adhesive in collage and can be used to coat the painting to give it a protective coating. I would use hot wax here instead.

Have you tried using Ceracolors with encaustic painting?

I’m still experimenting with this new medium so I would love to hear from you. Please add your comments below and let me know what you like or don’t like about using Ceracolors with encaustic.

About Ruth Maude

I enjoy experimenting with a variety of encaustic materials, techniques and tools. Everything I learn pushes my creative journey in new directions. I share what I've learned with other artists through my blog All Things Encaustic and encaustic workshops in Ontario.

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Ceracolors allow encaustic artists to experience a more painterly process than we are used to with our hot tools and gouging tools. With Ceracolors you can mix tube colours together on a palette and brush or dab them on your painting.

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