Frequently Asked Questions about Encaustic

Answers to your questions about Encaustic Painting

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About Ruth Maude

Encaustic art is my hobby. I'm a Toronto WordPress web designer and developer. I started All Things Encaustic to document what I learn and to explore encaustic art.

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31 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions about Encaustic

  1. what is the difference between an oil stick and a pigment stick in encaustics?

  2. If I create a series of monotypes using acrylic paint on thin paper (super thin), can embed the monotype(s) in my encaustic painting? I want to transparentize the paper in the painting with the wax but utilize some of interesting texturing from the monotype.


    1. Hi Steve,

      Personally, I would only use an encaustic monotype in an encaustic painting. But I suggest you give the freezer test a try. See the question above “How do I check if a substrate is suitable for encaustic using the freezer test?”

  3. Can I use oil paint on encaustic.
    I would like to add clear letters.

  4. Hi. Can you recommend a good book to get me started. I live in England in the south west and can’t find any class to give me an introduction, but this is something I have wanted to do for a while as I love to layer.

  5. Is there a way to thin the wax? It seems that when putting the wax on the painting, it hardens so quickly and therefore difficult to get it to spread in an even manner. I know that you go over it with a heat source but I’m wondering if there’s a way to thinning it down even before applying it.

    1. Carolyn,

      No, you don’t want to thin the encaustic medium. What ratio of beeswax to damar resin are you using? If your substrate is warm before you start to apply that will help. You could also try the pouring technique.

    1. Hi Laurie,

      I save wax scrapings, melt them down and add black paint to make black medium. I don’t know of any way to filter out the pigment.

    1. Hi Nuella,

      You can use Plexiglass – You’ll want to use sandpaper or steel wool first to rough up the surface creating a toothy surface so the encaustic will adhere. The problem with glass is that it isn’t absorbent. You can try but I don’t expect that it will be archivally sound.

  6. Hi,
    I see on Pinterest some artists using encaustic inside little tins…. do you think they had to prime the surface first with encaustic gesso… or went straight to wax? thank you!

    1. Jo,

      Encaustic Gesso is used to prime the substrate before wax is applied. This is an optional step.
      Encaustic Medium (beeswax and damar resin) is heated in little tins and oil paint or pigment is added to the melted medium. Does that answer your question?

    1. Hi Ronda,

      Yes you can use oil pastels with encaustic. You can draw directly onto wax with an oil pastel and then gently fuse.

  7. I have 2 questions.

    After applying and fusing a # of layers of pastel,is it okay to use encaustic paint over it?

    Also, I layer down an area of oil stick,and attempted to fuse lightly. Is it okay to paint over this with encaustic paint?

    Thank you for your reply

  8. hi ruth,

    when i apply the encaustic mixed with oil paint onto the board i’m painting on, it starts cracking and flakes off. i thought this might be because i had the wax too hot and the temperature change was too drastic once i put the paint on the board, but i turned down the heat and it still cracks. do you know why this is happening or how to fix it? thanks, madison

    1. Hi Madison,
      I’m not sure what you’re doing

      • are you painting on an unprimed wood substrate? The surface needs to be absorbent (not acrylic).
      • the temperature should be around 150°F – 200°F just until the medium melts and make sure it isn’t smoking.
      • did you make your own encaustic medium? What is the ratio of damar & beeswax?
      • are you fusing each layer of encaustic paint? You need to fuse each layer to the layer before.

      I hope I’ll be able to help you sort out the problem.

  9. I am just starting with encaustics and do not want to spend a lot of money on substrates, we have lots of scraps of plywood, drywall, water color paper around – can I use these just for practice?

  10. I don’t like to use gloves when I work encaustics. What’s the best way to remove wax from hands .?

    1. I don’t wear gloves working with beeswax encaustic medium and I don’t find that I need to do more than just wash my hands after painting. I took one workshop where we used microcrystalline wax, I didn’t like the way my hands felt that day and would have prefered using gloves. I would recommend gloves when using products such as shellac, dry pigments and alcohol inks. It is always wise to consult material safety data sheets for any product you use.

  11. Hi there. Thanks for your wonderful site – Im sitting at the other end of the world in South Africa where there is not much encaustic happening, so your advice is heaven sent. Can you please tell me – the photos printed on cardstock – how would you go about hanging this on a wall? Im not sure how to prepare this at all, perhaps framed but without glass like an oil painting?

    1. Hi Cindy,

      It’s so great to know that people all over the world are reading! Yes you can frame without the glass. I have framed my monotype paintings with matboard behind glass.

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