Fusing is important when working with Encaustic
When painting with encaustic, one needs to fuse the first layer of wax to the substrate and then each subsequent layer needs to be fused to the layer below.
The artist will fuse the layers of wax with either a heat gun, an encaustic iron and/or a blow torch. Sometimes I use all three on the same layer, depending on the texture and surface I’m going for.
Choosing the right encaustic fusing tools:
Fusing Encaustic with a Blowtorch
The Blowtorch is such a great fusing tool for encaustic because it is fast. The head I like is the BernzOmatic TS 1500 (but they have become hard to find!). It is portable, lightweight and it works well. One of the things I like about it is the fact that the flame can be adjusted to a very low setting, which allows for a gentle fuse for some applications.
When using the blowtorch, I suggest a “cutting the grass” motion: back and forth across your painting, keeping the torch moving at all times, to avoid over-heating an area. The torch is also great for pulling up colours from below when slowly passed over an area.
Fusing Encaustic with an Embossing Heat Gun
The temperature is consistent, the heat concentrated, and the noise level very low with this wonderful tool. Originally designed as an embossing tool, I now recommend this to all my friends and students who paint with wax.
It works well to fuse over fragile areas, such as photocopy transfer, and also is a great way to fuse leaving the brush stroke and texture… the more one fuses with it, the smoother the area becomes. Fuse lightly with it and maintain a strong texture. It is lightweight, with a cord 6 feet long, and a stand for holding it off the table if desired.
The Encaustic Iron is not a regular iron with holes in it. I use the “Encaustic Art” Iron, developed by Michael Bossom.
It is compact, sturdy, has no holes and maintains the correct temperature. These features make it perfect for encaustic. It also doubles as a mini hot plate (when we need to melt just one pot of wax). The iron is great for many surface textures, and also for incorporating collage.
Use different Encaustic fusing tools for different textures
Selecting a different fusing tools will provide the artist with a variety of surface textures.
Fusing Encaustic with different tools:
- The Blow Torch liquefies and blends layers together to give a smooth surface
- The Embossing Heat Gun allows you to maintain texture and is the gentlest of these three tools
- The Encaustic Iron pushes the layers of wax down to make a flat very smooth level surface, and also can create texture when used as a hot gouging tool (with the tip or the sides).
Both the heat gun and the iron are available for purchase through my encaustic supplies store Waxworks Encaustics.
- The Encaustic Iron: Finishing the Edges of Encaustic Panels - November 9, 2011
- Playing with Encaustic - April 28, 2011
- Painting in a grid: drawing the line! - March 17, 2011
- Tools for Fusing Encaustic | How to fuse with different tools - March 14, 2011
- Ironing over drips & drops | Encaustic Technique - March 12, 2011