Thursday, August 17, 2017    
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Encaustic Painting - Frequently Asked Questions

Many customers approach us hoping to get insight about our products and the painting process.  In an effort to address the most commonly asked questions, we've created this index!

Getting Started Questions:  
What Supplies Do I Need To Start Painting?
What Substrates Do I Use For Wax Painting?
Are There Any Health Or Safety Guidelines?
What Is Fusing?
What Is Wax Medium?
What Is Slick Wax?
What Types Of Brushes Can I Use In Encaustic?
What Is The Best Working Temperature For Encaustic Paints?
Does Enkaustikos Sell Palettes For Encaustic Use?
Can Encaustic Be Used For Realism?


Painting Technique Questions:
How Do I Clean My Brushes And Store My Paint Between Use?
Are Blow Torches Safe To Use?
Can I Use A Hair Dryer To Fuse?
How Do I Mix Colors In Encaustic?
How Do I Prime My Surface?
How Do I Create A Glaze?
How Is Scraping/Incising Done?
How Do I Create Different Surfaces?
How Do I Collage In Encaustic?
I'm A Mixed Media Artist, What Types of Products Can I Use In Combination With Encaustic?

 
Technical Product Questions:
Are Encaustic Paintings Permanent? Will My Painting Last Over The Years?
Can Wooden Boards Primed with Gesso Be Used?
Do You Recommend Claybord For Encaustic?
How Do I Determine If A Substrate Is Suitable? What's "The Freezer Test"?
Why Do You Do The Freezer Test?
Do You Have Examples of Substrates That Failed The Freezer Test? What Does It Look Like?
Is There More Than One Type Of Microcrystalline Wax?
How Does Enkaustikos Select Their Pigments Used In The Color Line?
What Are The Working Properties Of Encaustic Paints?
How Do I Know When The Slick Wax Is No Longer Good? How Long Does It Last?
Pigment Warnings: Specifically Prussian Blue, Is It Safe?
What Type Of Mill Does Enkaustikos Use?
How Does The Pigment Load of Enkaustikos Paints Compare To Other Brands?
What Is A Single Pigment Paint And Why Should I Care?
What Is The Difference Between XD and Original Wax Medium?

Company, Retailer, & Purchasing Questions:
Who Do I Talk To For Painting Or Product Questions?
How Do I Locate A Retailer Carrying Enkaustikos Products?
Why Can't I Buy From EncausticPaints.com?
What Do I Do If I Want A Product On The Website But, My Local Store Doesn't Have It?
What Do I Do If I Want To Purchase Refills But My Local Store Doesn't Offer Them?
I Need Bulk Sizes of Your Paints or Sundries, What Do I Do?
Can I Order From Enkaustikos Directly?
Where Can I Find Enkaustikos YouTube Videos?
How Can I Sign Up To Be On The Mailing List?
Does Enkaustikos Have A Catalog?
Where Can I Download The Enkaustikos Color Chart?
What Makes Enkaustikos Paints Different From Other Brands?
Do You Know Of Any Demonstrations Or Workshops?

Still have a question?  Send an email to info@encausticpaints.com






What Supplies Do I Need To Start Painting?

You can start with the necessities and then add more tools or paints as you get more comfortable with the medium.  We recommend you watch our youtube video where Kathryn walks you through the basic supplies and check out our safety guidelines webpage to help get you acquainted with studio recommendations.

A checklist for beginners:
  • A hot palette. Pancake griddles are easily affordable at department stores and work well for encaustic use.
  • Wax paints. Start with the basic color palette, primary colors, to get a handle on color mixing techniques and then add additional colors as you go.
  • Wax Medium. This is used for basecoats, topcoats, extending colors, and glazing.
  • Slick Wax. This is our non-solvent cleaner used for cleaning your palette and brushes.
  • A heat gun or torch for fusing.
  • Hog bristle brushes.
  • Paper towels.
  • Substrates that are compatible with encaustic.   
  • Optional: A variety of tools such as scrapers, pottery loops, or picks are also nice to have on hand if you would like to try scraping or incising effects.  These tools are easy to find at your local art supply store or you may even have them in your studio already. 
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What Substrates Do I Use for Wax Painting?

We typically recommend you use substrates that are absorbent and rigid such as wood panels. However, many of today’s artists are working on a variety of papers as well. Since artists are experimenting all the time, we’ve actually discovered that many artists are even using lightweight watercolor and printmaking papers. Artists that work in thin layers or who do encaustic monoprints are working on very thin, almost transparent (yet strong) Japanese rice papers. The key is that your substrates need to be absorbent. This even includes cotton canvas mounted to a board, unglazed ceramic, and low-fired bisqueware. There are plenty of options available to artists when it comes to choosing a substrate. A traditional gesso made from rabbit skin glue and precipitated chalk  will provide a nice absorbent surface to work on while acrylic based gesso is not compatible with the encaustic process.  Wax paint simply will not bond to the acrylic polymer and the wax paint will flake off the substrate.  The best way to determine whether a substrate is suitable for encaustic is by doing "The Freezer Test".


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Are There Any Health Or Safety Guidelines?

As with all art mediums, health and safety concerns must always be addressed. Encaustic painting is solvent-free, eliminating the need for turpentine, mineral spirits, or oily rags in the studio. An encaustic studio should be set up just like an oil or acrylic painting studio with good ventilation and circulation of fresh air. An ideal encaustic studio should have an open window to allow the entry of fresh air and an exhaust fan near or above your hot palette to remove fumes. Of course common sense caution should be exercised when working with any of the heated equipment like the hot palette or heat gun. Our paints are artist quality therefore we do not recommend our paints for children under the age of 12 because our paints are made with artist grade pigments. A good working temperature for the wax paint is between 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit.  This working temperature is extremely important when working with encaustic paints as it will allow you to avoid creating fumes and help  maintain the paint's integrity. Please refer to our Safety Guidelines listed on the website and read the Material Safety Data Sheets available for our products.


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Although wax paint is applied in layers, paintings require intermittent fusing to merge the layers together.  That is, fusing as you work simply means to apply heat to allow each layer to soften enough in order to merge with the previous or subsequent layers.  You need to form one single paint film and fusing will do that for you. Fusing can be done with heat guns, torches, embossing guns, heat lamps. Heat guns are ideal for people just starting out. They can be easily found at your local department store and typically sell for $25 to $30. It is a low cost investment and you will be using this tool frequently as you paint.  Take note, that hair dryers are not suitable for fusing as they simply do not get hot enough to fuse the paint layers properly.  We recommend you check out our youtube video that features the fusing process if you would like to see how it is performed.


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What Is Wax Medium?

Enkaustikos Wax Medium is made from United States Pharmaceutical Grade Beeswax and Damar Resin. Wax Medium is used for a variety of purposes when it comes to encaustic painting. It can be used as a topcoat, a base coat, or even used to create a textured surface. You can also add it to your wax paints to increase the transparency of colors for glazing techniques or use it to mix in your own pigments for custom colors. Wax Medium can even be used for collage techniques. We manufacturer three different types of Wax Medium: Original, Natural Yellow, and XD which contains extra damar to give it a stickier tack and thicker consistency. Check out our YouTube channel to see demonstrations on glazing, priming, and even collage.  


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What Is Slick Wax?

Slick Wax is our unique synthetic cleaning formula that is designed to clean your encaustic brushes, tools, and palette.  Slick Wax eliminates the need for any type of solvent in your studio.  Slick Wax will remove wax paint colors from your brushes in between color changes and allow you to keep your hot palette clean between color mixing techniques.  Simply have a melted tin of Slick Wax on your palette and dip your brushes into it to get rid of excess paint.  After dipping your brush in the Slick Wax, wipe off the excess with a paper towel and get right back to painting.  By using Slick Wax, you can avoid color contamination and make nice, clean color mixes! An alternative to Slick Wax is Soy Wax.


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What Type of Brushes Can be Used with Encaustic?

We recommend you use short-handled, natural bristle brushes. Avoid synthetic brushes because they may burn while working with heat. Hog-haired brushes like slotted brushes or goat-haired brushes like Hake brushes are great for encaustic.  Slick Wax is a great product to use to clean your brushes between color changes or uses. 


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The best temperature for heating Enkaustikos paints is between 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit.  This will allow you to maintain the integrity of the paint and avoid creating fumes.  Be sure to review our safety guidelines.         


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At the current time, Enkaustikos does not sell hot palettes. We recommend that artists purchase an affordable electric cooking griddle from a department store. Cooking griddles work nicely in encaustic and are a small investment for those just starting off. Retail stores sell cooking griddles for as little as $20 to $30USD. Take a look at our youtube videos to see different ways to use a pancake griddle. https://www.youtube.com/user/Enkaustikos


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Can Encaustic Be Used For Realism?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from customers just learning about the encaustic medium and the answer is--yes!! Encaustic painting does not limit you when it comes to  the subject matter. Look at the famous, Faiyum Mummy portraits of  Egypt.  We suggest you take a look at our Featured Artist section  as well to see what other artists are doing with this medium.  There are a lot of different ways to express yourself with encaustic.


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How Do I Clean My Brushes And Store My Paint?

When you're done with your painting session, just turn off the heated palette, leave the wax in your brushes, and cover your tins when the paint cools.  It's that simple.  
The tins will keep your paints safe and dust-free during storage while the wax paint on your brushes will keep the bristles intact.  The next time you want to paint, all you have to do is re-heat the palette to reactivate the wax.  You must remember that the brushes you decide to use must be dedicated solely to encaustic.  Once they are used in the wax paint, you will never completely get the wax out of the bristles so just have brushes set aside for your encaustic paintings only.  We do recommend  using Slick Wax  to clean the excess paint off your brushes between color changes so that you do not need one brush per color.  The use of Slick Wax will help you to prevent color contamination.  To be extra clean, you can also use Slick Wax on your palette to clean it off when you're done color mixing or painting.


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Are Torches Safe To Use?

 Yes. As long you adhere to proper fusing techniques, using a torch is an acceptable means of bonding paint layers together. Regardless of what tool you use to fuse, remember that 200 degrees Fahrenheit is the threshold for maintaining paint integrity.

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Can I Use A Hair Dryer To Fuse?

Hair dryers are not suitable for fusing because they do not get hot enough to properly fuse paint layers.

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I'm A Mixed Media Artist, What Types of Products Can I Use In Combination With Encaustic?

Mixed media artists can explore using a variety of products with encaustic. Paint sticks, graphite, pastels, oil pastels, and oil bars are a few examples that you can use on top of encaustic paintings to create unique looks. You can also collage with encaustic by taking objects like Japanese papers, origami, gold leaf, newsprint, photographs, and/or plant materials and encapsulating them in Wax Medium. Watch our YoutTube video to see Kathryn demonstrating mixed media techniques. 

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Encaustic paints are perhaps the most durable form of painting.  Wax itself is inherently moisture, mildew, and mold resistant as well as unappetizing to insects.  The wax paint film you create on your paintings will successfully seal out moisture, acids, dirt, and even atmospheric gases.  The artist grade pigments used within our paints will also not fade over time, nor will the wax yellow.  As with any piece of artwork, encaustic paintings shouldn't be displayed in direct sunlight and to dust the painting, be sure to use a soft cloth.  If properly cared for encaustic paintings will last the test of time.  Simply look at the 2000-year-old Faiyum Mummy Portaits currently on display in museums.  These portraits have strikingly beautiful finishes.

The important thing to remember is to use quality products, and follow proper encaustic application techniques to ensure archival properties.


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Wax paints do not bond with acrylic gesso. However, traditional gesso is an ideal surface to paint on, also  boards wrapped with cotton or linen are suitable if left unprimed.

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Hair dryers are not suitable for fusing because they do not get hot enough to properly fuse paint layers. We recommend using a hot air gun. 

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Hair dryers are not suitable for fusing because they do not get hot enough to properly fuse paint layers. We recommend using a hot air gun. 

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Do You Recommend Claybord For Encaustic?

No, we do not recommend Claybord for encaustic. At one point we did highly recommended it and we still have dozens of beautiful samples that we painted on claybord over 14 years ago that are in impeccable shape even today. However, the manufacturer of Claybord has since changed something in their manufacturing process that has affected its suitability for encaustic use. The images below shows some of the incompatibility issues that encaustic paint has with Claybord. Initially, encaustic paints seem to adhere and absorb nicely into the clay surface. Yet for some reason, unknown to us, after about a week the wax paint seems to detach itself from the clay surface and shears off cleanly. This is a good example of why encaustic artists should test any new type of substrates before investing time and paint into a project.


           


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How Do I Determine If A Substrate Is Suitable?
What's "The Freezer Test"?


The best way to determine whether a substrate is suitable for encaustic painting is to do "The Freezer  Test". The freezer test should be done before you start painting on any new, unfamiliar surfaces to ensure they are compatible with encaustic. Apply a layer or two of Wax Medium or wax paint over the substrate you are questioning and then burn it in to make sure it is properly fused to the surface of the substrate.  Allow it to cool for a couple of hours then place it in your freezer. A day or two later, take the substrate out of your freezer and toss it on the floor. Not just once, several times. Give it a few extra taps and then inspect it. Aside from the dented corners if the substrate is suitable, the paint will still be completely intact.  If you find any paint chipping off completely exposing the substrate, then it is not suitable for encaustic painting.  Why do this test?





Why Do You Use "The Freezer Test"?

One of the reasons we do the "Freezer Test" is because artwork must be transportable from your studio to your gallery and from the gallery to the buyer of your artwork.  Artwork is typically shipped by UPS or Fed Ex across the country as well as across the border.  Your artwork must not only survive rough handling by the truck drivers but also survive the constantly changing temperature shifts.  Your artwork could possibly sit in the back of a delivery truck where it can reach 110 degrees if shipped from the South and a day later, be exposed to sub zero temperatures if shipped to a NYC gallery in January or February.  By doing the "Freezer Test" you  can feel more confident that your painting will last the shipment because you tested the substrate to be encaustic compatible.  Be sure to check out our example substrates of ones that have failed "The Freezer Test" to see what could happen if you use the wrong type of substrate.  Whenever you are trying out a new type of substrate, we recommend you do the test to ensure compatibility.

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Do You Have Examples Of Substrates That Have Failed "The Freezer Test"? What Does It Look Like?

Yes, the image below is a sample of Wallis Museum Grade Pastel Paper. We had heard that a few encaustic artists were working with this material so we decided to test it.  At first appearance, it seemed like the perfect encaustic substrate especially when we began to layer paint on it. The gritty surface seemed to offer the perfect mechanical adhesion for the encaustic paint. Unfortunately, the acrylic coating that adheres the aluminum oxide (giving this paper its grit) also prevents the wax from absorbing into the paper so as you can see from this image ,the paint actually chipped completeing off the paper after doing "The Freezer Test". The surface beneath is so white where the paint chipped off it looks like it was never painted on to begin with. Can you imagine shipping your artwork to a NYC gallery in the winter months and having them open the crate to find your paint layer sitting in the bottom of the box? Or,worse, having the gallery ship a sold painting by Fed Ex to a collector and having the customer open the box to discover your painting in this condition?  This holds true for any acrylic gesso primed canvas and boards. We must stress that you  should always test the suitability of a substrate before you begin painting in order to avoid this situation from happening to your artwork.  Please note, we are not picking on Wallis Pastel Paper as it is by far the most popular pastel paper on the planet...however, it is just not suitable for encaustic use. This is a great example of why "The Freezer Test" is so beneficial to do.  



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Microcrystalline Wax is derived from petroleum oil. Wax refiners purchase the heavy distillates which have been removed during the production of lubricant oil and refine it to produce microcrystalline wax. Microcrystalline wax is available in several colors from dark brown (which is often used in wax casting) to white (which is used in cosmetics). We offer a high quality white grade for those who insist on using microcrystalline in their encaustic paintings. Microcrystalline does have some very nice properties like elasticity and a chemical structure which makes it compatible with natural waxes and oils. Essentially, it is a complicated carbon based wax characterized by branched, cyclic chains meaning it blends better with beeswax and oil colors than paraffin waxes do.  For comparison, paraffin waxes are only simple, straight carbon based chains, which will shrink and not blend as well.   Microcrystalline wax melts at a higher temperature (170 to 180 degrees F) than beeswax-based paints (143 to 150 degrees) so this allows you to apply beeswax-based encaustic paints over the sculpted  microcrystalline surface with minimal  disturbance to the layer underneath.  This is a helpful because microcrystalline wax will yellow over time (wax refiners never get 100% of the oil out of the wax) and therefore, by using it in the early stages of your painting you can eventually encapsulate it with beeswax-based paints. Keep in mind that when you melt microcrystalline wax at its higher temperature you will also be filling your studio with petroleum-based vapors and therefore, plenty of ventilation is a must in your studio.  You also must be careful not to burn your encaustic paints when heating your palette to this level.

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Choosing The Right Pigments

It's All About The Research.
When it comes to pigments, Enkaustikos is dedicated to selecting artist grade pigments that are most suitable for encaustic painting.  However, pigment selection isn't an easy task.  In fact, it's not just a matter of picking out our favorite colors, a lot of different factors must be considered.  We do plenty of research and testing on pigments before making our final choice to ensure we can provide our customers with high quality, professional encaustic paints.


Yellow Pigments...Not All Are Suited For Encaustic!

We are often asked for Hansa Yellow encaustic paint and it provides a great example why research is so important. While Hansa Yellow is a beautiful, transparent yellow and extremely popular with oil, acrylic and watercolor artists, it should never be on an encaustic artist's palette.  Every artist considers factors like tinting strength and light fastness when selecting their colors but, encaustic artists also have to factor in heat stability. Keep in mind that your colors will be heated typically in the range of 150 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.  However, there will be times when you may inadvertently overheat an area with a hot air gun which could cross the 200 degree barrier.  Consequently, encaustic artists must be concerned with the stability of their pigments under every possible condition.  We do not use any of the Hansa Yellows because they are simply, not heat stable.  Hansa Yellow Light PY3 decomposes at 225 degrees F and Hansa Yellow Medium PY73 is even lower, it decomposes at 140 degrees F. Therefore, if you were to heat up Hansa Yellow Medium, as soon as your wax paints liquefy at 150 degrees F they will have already begun to decompose. Decomposition means that the color undergoes changes and that beautiful Hansa Yellow may turn green.  Colors mixed with Hansa Yellow will also experience this color shift. The other factor even more important to the encaustic artist is that prolonged heating of Hansa Yellow pigments above their threshold leads to the release of harmful gases.  Therefore considering these factors, Hansa Yellow pigments are not suitable for encaustic use.

Our Bismuth Yellow Is Different.
Bismuth YellowOn the other hand, a great example of proper research is our Bismuth Yellow pigment. In fact, over a year ago, we found and added the eye-catching Bismuth Yellow PY184 to our color palette after conducting extensive research and testing.  Bismuth Yellow is a brilliant yellow, high performance pigment which offers excellent light fastness and heat stability (572 degrees F). This is the perfect yellow for sophisticated color mixes. It is a semi-transparent pigment with a high tinting strength. It is also ideal for  creating beautiful glazes.  As you can see, our color line is based on pigment research and without this step, we would not have the beautiful color line we have now.  It is also important to mention that we utilized a state-of-the-art milling system that shears our pigments to their finest particle size which brings out the true personality of each pigment.  You will find that our paint is rich, creamy, and vibrant thanks to this advanced technology.  As you select your Hot Cake colors, you can feel confident that you are buying high quality encaustic paint.    

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  • Because drying time is not an issue, working with wax allows artists to work immediately on building layers and reworking in an additive and subtractive fashion.
  • It is important that each layer of wax is bonded or fused together. This is done with the use of adding heat ideally with a heat gun. This process is known as "burning in". 
  • Within minutes of using wax paint, you can easily create both the delicate layering of thin, transparent glazes or thick heavy impasto textures.
  • Once cooled, wax holds its shape so smooth, glasslike surfaces, details with fine line, light or heavy brush strokes, to even sculptural effects are easily achievable.
  • Wax provides the ability to adhere objects making this a great medium for mixed media and collage artists. Even print makers will find this an intriguing medium for mono prints and lifts.
  • Many experimental artists are top coating their digital images with wax medium for a rich, lustrous wax finish successfully combining modern technology with one of the oldest painting techniques.

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How Do We Know When Slick Wax Is No Longer Good? 
How Long Does It Last?


There is no way to say exactly how long Slick Wax will be effective for you.  A lot of its effectiveness depends on factors like how often you paint, how often you clean your brushes or tools and if you wipe off excess paint before dipping your brush into the Slick Wax. Basically, if you notice that your brushes are not coming out clean anymore then simply, it's time to put a new refill cake of Slick Wax into your tin and pour out the old Slick Wax (Or replace the tin altogether with a Slick Wax Hot Cake!).   Fortunately, even if your Slick Wax gets really dirty looking from all of its use--especially if you forget to wipe off excess paint--it is can still be effective at cleaning.  We always recommend that painters just use their Slick Wax until they no longer see that it works.  Of course, if you want to ensure you are extra clean when working with your Wax Medium or lighter colors, you may want to consider having an extra tin of Slick Wax on your palette to use just for this purpose. With the extra tin of Slick Wax on hand, you can thoroughly clean your brushes and have tighter control of your color mixing.  

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We often receive questions about the safety of using certain pigments in encaustic.  If you have any questions about the safety of our paints or the pigments we use, please let us know.  We also hope you check out oursafety guidelines and MSDS sheets available for download on our website.  To help provide some answers, we've included a recent example of a pigment safety question.   

Mike, the Enkaustikos President, received the following question via email:

Mike,

I've been reading about warnings against using Prussian blue in encaustic paint because of the danger of emission of cyanide gas if the pigment is heated.  Would you please write and tell me why you sell this paint for use in encaustic (hot cakes) and if this particular color is sold with specific warnings about its toxicity?

Thank you, Anna 

Mike's response went as follows:
 

Hello Anna,
As you know all artists grade pigments require safe handling and use. Prussian blue pigment is no exception. We read the same information you did about Prussian blue. Our pigment supplier publishes a MSDS sheet which explains that the decomposition temperature of this pigment is 1112 degrees Fahrenheit. We have a downloadable MSDS sheet on our web so you have all the information available to you. In regards to encaustic painting, your beeswax should never be heated above 200 degrees F or the beeswax will burn and smoke, in addition your damar resin will also begin to break down and lose its working properties. The ideal working temperature is 150 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit, at this temperature your all of wax paints will be workable and safe to work with. I hope this answers your questions.
Mike


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What Type of Mill Does Enkaustikos Use?

Here at Enkaustikos we strive to make the most beautiful, professional encaustic paints. To do this, we utilize a state-of-the-art milling system. This system uses modern technology that shears the pigment to the finest particle size. We recommend you review our page, What Makes Our Color Line Different to see images of our milled paint vs. hand made paint. Our paint is truly artist-quality.


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How Does The Pigment Load of Enkaustikos Paints Compare To Other Brands?

Many customers often ask how our colors compare to other brands especially in regards to pigment load.  Here at Enkaustikos, we heavily pigment our colors using the finest artist-grade pigments available.  To show how our colors compare, we included a section on the website where we provided actual color swatches of the popular color, Burnt Sienna...view the swatches on the What Makes Our Color Line Different page.  


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Single Pigment Paints, They Do Matter!

At Enkaustikos, we are constantly experimenting with new pigments. It is of utmost importance to make sure that the pigments we use are suitable for the encaustic process. Our first priority is to make sure the pigment is safe to heat up on an encaustic palette. As we discussed in our last newsletter, some colors like Hansa Yellow are just not heat stable so this research is very important. In addition to health concerns, we want to provide artists with the widest range of lightfast colors possible. Last year we added several new modern pigments with outstanding lightfastness ratings like Bismuth Yellow, Anthraquinone Blue, and Indian Yellow to name just a few. This year, we are introducing Quinacridone Gold, Cobalt Aqua and a few others.

We could have easily expanded our color line by just mixing a few existing colors to offer a larger range. However, we feel that artists can easily mix their own colors if given the best single pigment paints to begin with. Enkaustikos currently mills 85 colors, 72 of which are single pigment paints. We offer more single pigment paints than any other company. You might ask; why is a single pigment paint so important? The main reason is that single pigment paints allow artists the greatest opportunity to create the most intense, clean, and luminous color mixes. A good rule to follow when it comes to color mixing is to use the least number of pigments to create your custom mix. The more pigments you use to make a custom mix the more likely you are of making a muddy and dull paint. If you want to "gray down" a paint color, your best option is to mix compliment single pigment paints together. In this way, your grays will be rich and radiant. Using single pigment colors are the key to producing the best mixes.

There is nothing wrong with using mixed paints. In fact, we offer 13 composite paints which are paints that are mixed with multiple pigments. These paints are commonly referred to as convenience colors. We offer paints mixed with modern, non toxic pigments to match classic colors like Naples Yellow. Genuine Naples Yellow is popular with oil painters but it is very toxic because it is made with lead. Of course, we would never want lead paint on our heated palette so we offer a mixed alternative for you. Our Naples Yellow Hue is a good example of a composite paint made from mixing three pigments together.  Another reason why Enkaustikos mills composite paints is to provide you with consistency every time. Our labels note which pigments are used in the making of each Hot Cakes and Hot Cakes Refill. Please utilize our label information to create the cleanest, brightest, mixes possible.

 

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What Is The Difference Between XD and Original Wax Medium?

XD Wax Medium has equal parts of Damar Resin and USP Beeswax, a 50-50 blend. XD was created to offer a harder top coat for finished paintings and digital prints. Artists have discovered so many more uses, such as for mixing glaze colors, and to use between layers as an isolation coat to help protect previous layers when fusing since the extra damar has a higher melting point. XD has a thicker consistency then our Orignal Wax Medium when liquefied so it is a little trickier to work with.  It also has a stickier tack while cooling which makes it easier to build up texture and it stays pliable for a longer time.  Once cooled, it is resistant to surface alterations from scraping and offers a hard film.  When using XD, it is easy to achieve a glass-like topcoat because it becomes more clear than Original Wax Medium.  It is also slightly more yellow due to the high load of damar resin.  Learn more.


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We encourage you to check our website to learn more about encaustic painting!  We created our website with you, the customer, in mind!  You will find a variety of educational resources and even technique videos so you will surely learn more about this unique medium.   

If you find you have specific questions about our products or techniques, you can also email us directly.  We'd love to talk with you about encaustic. 

When it comes to purchasing, we suggest you contact a local Hot Cakes dealer.  They will be able to assist you with any product availability questions and may even have information regarding any upcoming demonstrations or workshops in your area.  Encaustic workshops are a great way to learn more about encaustic.  To find a dealer, use our website search pages.  If you are having trouble finding a retailer near you, just let us know.   


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How Do I Locate An Enkaustikos Dealer?

Over 450 retail stores carry our Enkaustikos products! This includes stores in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Mexico. To make finding a retailer even easier, we have included several search pages on our website. You can browse our location lists or search by your zipcode to find a store nearby. On our website, you can even get directions, a map, and the store's contact information. Please keep in mind, that although we try to list as many of our retailers as we can, many retailers purchase through distributors and therefore, there is a delay in getting their contact information  on the website.  If you are having trouble finding a retailer nearest you, let us know and we will assist you!  Call Enkaustikos at 585-263-6930 or email info@encausticpaints.com


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Why Can't I Buy From Encausticpaints.com?

To support our retailers, we do not sell directly on our website. You can however, locate retail stores that carry our products by using the search pages on our website. Over 450 retail stores carry our products! Be sure to use our website as an encaustic resource however. We have included information about our products and several educational webpages to help you become more familiar with the art of encaustic!


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All of the retailers listed on this website have access to our entire product line. If you need  a particular product we manufacture but can't seem to find it on the shelves of your local retail store, just ask!  If your local retailer does not have the item in stock, they can certainly order it for you (many retailers are more than happy to assist you).  If for some reason however your local store does not do special orders, please contact us. To support our retailers, we do not sell direct but we will help you find another store nearby that you can work with. So go ahead, browse our website and learn more about the different encaustic products we offer.


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All of our retailers have access to every  color we manufacture and every refill amount we offer. If you need  to purchase refills, please just ask your local retailer!  If your local retailer doesn’t stock refills (which is common since that would be very space-consuming in their store) they can certainly order refills for you.   If for some reason your local store does not want to special order the colors, please contact us to let us know. To support our retailers, we do not sell direct but we will help you find a store nearby that you can work with for the refill program. Ultimately, we want you to have our products and we will do our best to find a way to get our products into your studio.


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I Need Bulk Sizes of Your Paints or Sundries, 
What Do I Do?


Most encaustic artists begin working on a small scale then before they know it, they get involved in painting murals, creating large 3 dimensional pieces or get commissions for large encaustic projects. Purchasing 45ml tins of Hot Cakes can get rather expensive when working on such a larger scale. Therefore, every retailer listed on our website has access to the products we manufacture and in all  the sizes we offer. That means, if you need 5 lb or 10 lbs of a color, a dozen 1 oz refills for a workshop, or even 10 lbs of damar resin for a project, just contact your local retailer. If your local retailer doesn’t stock it, they can certainly order it for you. If for some reason your local store does not want to special order an item for you, please contact us. To support our retailers, we do not sell direct but we will help you find a store nearby to work with.


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To support our retailers, we do not sell direct. Over 450 retail stores do carry the Enkaustikos line however and if you utilize our search pages, you will be able to find a location nearest you. If for some reason, you cannot locate a dealer just let us know and we will be able to assist you. If your local store does not carry a particular item you are looking for from our line, just ask them if they will special order it for you. All of our dealers listed on the website have access to our product line.  If they do not take special orders, contact us and we will find a retail store that you can work with to get our products.


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Our YouTube videos feature common encaustic techniques and are short clips under 10 minutes in length.  You can find these videos on our website and YouTube. Click here to watch them individually on our website or visit our YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/Enkaustikos   


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We send out a monthly e-newsletter and occasionally send out snail mail to our mailing list. You can sign up for either or both on this page.   


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We do! You can download a PDF version of our latest catalog in English, French, or German on this page. You can also sign up for our mailing lists on the same page to have price lists & brochures mailed to you. 


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You can download different PDF versions of our color chart from this page 


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 What Makes Our Color Line Different?

Our Ingredients.

At Enkaustikos, we are dedicated to creating professional artist grade colors and use only the finest ingredients, regardless of costs.  Our paints contain US Pharmaceutical (USP) Grade Beeswax, Damar Resin, and Artist Grade Pigments.  

USP Grade Beeswax is a more expensive beeswax than Purified Beeswax but we use USP for a very good reason.  USP Beeswax is a natural beeswax that goes through a heat filtering process that removes pollen and other natural adulterants that honey bees bring back to the honeycomb. This a chemical-free filtering process and it produces a highly refined beeswax without the use of bleaches.  By using the USP Beeswax in our paints, it eliminates chemicals and bleaches from the artist's encaustic palette. USP Beeswax is  the same type of beeswax that is used in cosmetics, medicinal ointments and lip balms.

Another natural ingredient that we use is Damar Resin.  This is actually hardened tree sap.  We heat filter this to remove bark and other debris that may have been trapped inside the sticky sap.  It is important to note that we do not use damar varnish because it is made with turpentine, which is not only flammable but also harmful to breathe. We make sure to use only the finest Damar Resin in our paints and this, in combination with the USP beeswax, produces our Enkaustikos Wax Medium.  To the Wax Medium, we add the highest quality pigments. 

When it comes to selecting pigments, we select pigments after doing extensive research and testing.   There are many different factors that we consider before selecting a pigment for our color line. Every artist considers factors like tinting strength and lightfastness when selecting their colors but, encaustic artists also have to factor in heat stability. Encaustic colors will be heated typically in the range of 150 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there will be times when an artist may inadvertently overheat an area with a hot air gun which could cross the 200 degree barrier. Consequently, encaustic artists must be concerned with the stability of their pigments under every possible condition. Therefore, we select pigments based on whether they are lightfast and engineered to withstand the heated encaustic process.   We select only the best pigments suitable and this can even mean that we are buying pigments that cost up to $100 per pound!  Through our research, testing, and commitment to quality colors we have added beautiful colors like Bismuth Yellow and avoided colors like Hansa Yellow which are not heat stable.  Learn more.

 


Our Milling System.

Our milling operation utilizes advanced technology to shear pigment to their ultimate particle size. Our new equipment has taken our paint to a whole new level in both color and quality.  We are manufacturing a paint that is richer, creamier, cleaner, and more vibrant than ever before possible. With our milling system, we are able to bring out the true personality of each pigment used.

  

Comparing Hand Made to Professionally Milled Paint

The best way to explain why our milling system is so important  is by showing a side-by-side comparison of hand mixed paint to paint mill on our state-of-the-art equipment. Until the availability of professionally milled paint, seasoned encaustic artists had to make their own. Making your own paint is not only time consuming but results are inconsistent. In addition, artists are working with powdered pigments so extra health precautions should be exercised. Today’s encaustic artists are more like acrylic, oil and watercolor artists who prefer to spend their valuable time painting rather than making paint. The images below offer good reasons to use professional quality paint, especially if you use your paint for glazing techniques.

                           
Hand Made Paint 

       
Our Milled Paint 

 

The above  image is a sample of encaustic paint mixed by hand with powdered pigments.  Notice how you can see grit in the paint, its actually clumps of pigment. We selected Alizarin Crimson for this exercise because it is one of the most difficult to make and one of our most popular colors. This clumping of pigments often occurs when you mix your own paint as well because the pigment particles are simply not being milled as finely as they could be. You could stir these for days and not get better results.

          

The above image shows Alizarin Crimson milled on our equipment.  Notice how finely ground the paint is milled, the clumps of pigment have been sheared to tiny particles and evenly dispersed in our wax medium. Our paint is smooth, clean, and creamy in comparison.  Plus, the color itself appears more vibrant and rich. Our mission is to make the finest quality encaustic paint. We want to make encaustic paint that is on a par with the finest oil colors made by Winsor & Newton, Gamblin and Old Holland.



Why So Many Single Pigment Paints.

Many customers have asked how our color line compares to other brands.  We offer more single pigment paints than any other company!  Enkaustikos currently mills 85 colors, 72 of which are single pigment paints. We could have easily expanded our color line by just mixing together a few existing colors to offer a larger range but we feel that artists can easily mix their own colors if given the best single pigment paints to begin with. Why is a single pigment paint so important? The main reason is that with a single pigment paint an artist will have the greatest opportunity to create the most intense, clean, and luminous color mixes. A good rule to follow when it comes to color mixing is to use the least number of pigments to create your custom mix. The more pigments you use to make a custom mix the more likely you are of making a muddy and dull paint. If you want to "gray down" a paint color, your best option is to mix compliment single pigment paints together. In this way, your grays will be rich and radiant. Using single pigment colors are the key to producing the best mixes.  Learn more

 


 

Our Pigment Load.

We are dedicated to providing our customers with the most beautiful, rich, vibrant encaustic colors available.  In order to do this, we heavily pigment our colors with the finest artist-grade pigments.  Many customers have asked how our paint's pigment load compares to other brands, therefore, we've posted paint swatches for comparison.

Comparing Pigment Loads!

The swatches below feature the color, Burnt Sienna.  The one on the left is from a competing brand while the one on the right is from our line.  Using a marker, we placed some black stripes on the board and then painted over the top with the color to help show the  strength of the pigment load.  The less visible the black lines are,  the more pigmented the color is!   The very left of each image is Burnt Sienna painted in full strength and then progressing to the right of each image, the color is extended with Wax Medium.  That means, the first swatch is full strength, the second swatch is 50% paint, 50% wax medium, and then it continues getting mixed down 50% each swatch in the line.    

           A Competitor's Burnt Sienna              

Our Enkaustikos' Burnt Sienna


You will notice the black marker stripes are less visible under the Enkaustikos color  shown on the right.  This is because we heavily pigment our colors and run them through our state-of-the-art mill.

 

 


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​Occasionally, Enkaustikos gives demonstrations at shows, stores, or special events. We also promote stores carrying Enkaustikos products and educators that use Enkaustikos in their workshops. To view a full list of events, demos, and workshops, click here!

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