Encaustic Medium

This may be the easiest of all methods for making medium. Actually just iterating for those of you already familiar with the process and making it available for those of you new to the process.

Step 1: Using a large skillet or roaster pan, melt your beeswax at 160 degrees. A candy thermometer is a good check on the thermostat reading. Use a beeswax that is not chemically bleached but filtered and is white or yellow if you prefer. The beeswax is naturally white and yellows over time. Yellow beeswax is really yellow. I make batches of two to four pounds, smaller amounts at a time to control the process of combining the dammar resin with the beeswax. consistency is primary so smaller batches are easier to control. If you are creating a very large painting then roaster pan is the answer.

Step 2: While the beeswax is melting, measure the appropriate amount of dammar crystals. Weigh to obtain the ratio of 2 0z. to one pound of beeswax. Adding more makes a softer medium and less may make the medium too brittle.

Step 3: Place the resin crystals in two baggies (doubled) each sealed and wrap in a towel. Take a rubber hammer and crush on a solid surface. Continue to crush until you only have small pieces of resin in the bags.

Step 4: When the beeswax is completely melted cut a hole in the corner of the baggies and slowly introduce the resin into the melted beeswax. This is where good ventilation is essential. I also use gloves while handling the raw materials. Use a wooden spoon to incorporate the resin. Continue stirring for a few minutes and then cover the pan with a lid. I do not raise the temperature above 200 degrees at any time. Check of the progress of the melting from time to time and stir to help the process.

Step Five: Once the resin has completely melted (and I mean completely) stir again and again to blend the beeswax and resin. Keep this mixture stirred or you will end up with a very inconsistent product in the end.

Step Six: Ladle the medium into silicone muffin pans, cake pans, etc. The medium pops right out of the silicone for use. You will have to use a method of straining since there will be dirt and detritus in the bottom of the pan. I use a metal strainer which eliminates all but the smallest particles. And there you have it. Once the medium hardens you are ready to work. When you are ready to use your medium pass the cakes or slabs over your heated palette and scrape to remove any foreign matter that has settled to the bottom.

I always use a dedicated skillet or roaster pan for making medium because even though I clean the bottom after making medium, there is a chance some dirt will remain on the bottom.

Happy painting!

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