Encaustic experiments

I recently obtained a small sample kit which included the encaustic stylus /mini-iron tool and two other brush heads, plus three very tiny blocks of encaustic wax colours (red, blue and yellow – no white, which would have been helpful). The kit included a postcard sized sample of ‘encaustic’ card, which is basically the same as photo card. I first tried the waxes out on the postcard sized paper:

first encaustic on card – postcard size

I had an old watercolour painting I’d started a while ago on some very thick, textured watercolour paper and decided to try and see if I could work on top of it with the encaustic waxes. I also have some oil crayons, so thought I’d try and use them as well to put in some additional colour contrasts and the much needed white.

Mixed encaustic and oil crayons on watercolour paper – about A4

I notice when ‘polishing’ at the end of the process, that there are muddy areas in amongst the red where I have used the oil crayons and some other oil pastels – these do not buff up properly and their colours are nowhere near as bright as the proper encaustic wax paints.

I left the exercises for a while and then whilst I was reading up a bit on encaustic grounds, discovered that it was possible to use ceramic tiles. I have a small box of these that I bought for some other project but never used all of them, so today I decided to try them out with the encaustic wax paints. I also brought out my old craft iron and small travel hair dryer (which works like a craft heat gun). I first cleaned off the tile with isopropyl alcohol and then taped the sides with some masking tape, to give a natural border. I wasn’t sure if this would work, or whether it would pull the wax off the tile at the end but had to give it a go!

Prepared black glossy ceramic tile – 9.5cm square

Then I started to work on the tile, first using the small tool to apply dabs of wax paint and then using the iron to smooch it all around.

It ended up looking like this:

Encaustic on ceramic tile No. 1
Tile 1 – close up – texutre

I used the rest of the white oil crayons that i have left, so when I came to do the next one, I thought I’d try a white from my el-cheapo water soluble oils

unsuccessful tile – using some encaustic wax paint but mostly water-soluble oil pastels

Alas, even though it looked quite pretty after I’d done more work on it and removed the tape, the stuff just didn’t adhere to the tile and while I was trying to buff it up to a shine, the wax surface started to rub off.

I went back to trying just the encaustic wax paints for the next tile, which I tried out using just blue first but then broke down and added Caran D’Ache white water-soluble oil pastel, it worked a lot better than the el-cheapo water-soluble oil pastels.

Encaustic on ceramic tile 2 (with some Caran’D’Ache Neocolour II water-soluble oil pastels)

The third tile experiment was just using the encaustic wax paints:

Encaustic on ceramic tile 3

The wax is a lot thicker on tile 3 and I like how I created what looks like a tree. Yes, there are dots of a lilac on there, that is an oil wax crayon.

I have a packet of postcard sized glossy photo paper and used this for the last experiment.

Encaustic wax paints on glossy photo-paper – 15cm x 16cm

I got a bit better applying the wax to the paper with this attempt and then when I put the iron on it, it all went crazy! I loved how the iron smooshed it all about. I then continued to work on it with the tiny-iron on the encaustic stylus tool – I’m quite pleased with this one. The iron mashed up the yellow and red to give a lovely golden brown. also because this is white paper, I was able to lift off sections of the wax to create light in the picture. It was easy to burnish up.


Don’t waste time with cheap wax crayons or using water-soluble oil pastels as they just don’t buff up nicely and most times the wax just doesn’t adhere properly to the ground. Spend some dosh and buy good quality encaustic paints/mediums. Get hold of some panels to work from to make larger pieces. get lots of white. Not necessary to buy a heat gun or encaustic iron at this stage.

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