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How to reuse was scrapings

How to reuse encaustic scrapings

Originally published April 18, 2019

Scraping is part of the encaustic painting process but this can feel wasteful. What do you do with encaustic scrapings? Believe me, I know that you don’t want to throw away all the beautiful encaustic paint that you’ve applied and then scrapped off a panel.

If you’ve applied mixed media materials such as pan pastels or ink to the surface of the wax, discard these scrapings.

3 ways to reuse wax scrapings

Here’s how to ensure that that precious encaustic medium doesn’t go to waste.

1. Create a harmonizing colour:

When you’re working on a painting if you throw scrapings into a pot you can create a powerful neutral colour, a harmonizing colour that can help all of the other colours in your painting relate to each other.

Melt together scrapings of each of the colours on your palette to create a neutral. I did this myself today, creating a lovely blue-grey that was just what my painting needed. At first, this may seem like a muddy colour, but this new colour relates to every colour in your painting, it has some of each of the other colours in it.

Try this yourself to create colour harmony.

2. Separate scrapings by colour:

Separate your scrapings by colour groups. Put all the blues in one tin, and all the reds in another. Then melt the scrapings down and you’ll have a new colour to use in the future.

You can always add additional pigmented encaustic paint to modify the colour.

pucks of encaustic medium

Melt all scrapings together to make what I call mud wax:

If you have scrapings that aren’t separated by colour, just melt them down together. This will make neutral greys and browns. You can adjust colours by adding more pigmented encaustic paint. If you get a muddy neutral colour you can use it as a basecoat.

Filter out debris:

Brush hairs and debris that found their way into the wax medium can be filtered out through cheesecloth. If the wax isn’t too dirty, you can pour it directly into silicone cups. Any debris will sink to the bottom of the puck. Warm the bottom of the puck up on your griddle and give it a scrape to clean it up.

When you’ve melted down the scrapings, pour the molten medium into silicone muffin cups. Allow the medium to cool and then pop it out of the cup. You can store these pucks for future use.

3. Creative scrapings

Some artists like to work scrapings back into the painting. Put the scraping on top of the painting and using a torch, melt it down. This can create some cool marbled effects.

If you have a large section of a painting that you want to scrape off, you can get creative. Try to create Encaustic Ribbons that you can fuse into other paintings.

How do you use encaustic wax scrapings?

I would love to hear from you. If you have something to add please comment below.

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.

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14 thoughts on “How to reuse encaustic scrapings”

  1. I save my wax but it’s always quite mixed shellac, ink, and worst of all Husky hair. I’m not sure if should hoard beeswax (seriously.) on account bees and insects in general are seemingly in turmoil and collapse.

  2. Yes, great info on using up scrapings. I was wondering why it’s not good to use wax with pan pastels on it. I can understand not using inks. I really enjoy this group of artists – thank you!

    1. Hi Trish, Anything that doesn’t incorporate into the wax will end up as debris in the mud pot. You can filter it out through cheesecloth if you don’t throw it away when you’ve scraped it off the painting surface.

  3. I too create neutrals from scrapings. I don’t usually divide by color but I do have separate pans for whites, mid-range darks and darks. The trick is not to create “mud.”

  4. I freeze them and then smash them into tiny bits. Then when I sprinkle them onto my encaustic paintings in strategic places and fuse them. It adds the element of surprise. I do separate colours as I do the scraping And put them in small zip lock bags so I have a “pallet” of different pulverized colours.

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