Getting Started

Encaustic can be used as a traditional painting medium, but it can also be used in works that are just as much about painting or sculpture as they are about photography, drawing, and printmaking. Painting with encaustic is a multi-step process. First, the paint must be melted. Next, the molten paint is applied to a porous surface. Then the applied wax is fused into the working surface, allowing it to form a bond. As a final option, the cooled paint can be buffed to bring up the luster of the wax and resin.

Basic Set-up Suggestions

You will need a level counter or worktable to put a heated palette on and adequate electricity to support your palette and heat gun. Ensure that your work area has proper ventilation. Exhaust fans in windows, cross-ventilation, or a studio ventilation system are all good options, and it is important that you have a source of fresh air. It is recommended that you have a burn kit and a fire extinguisher on-hand for safety purposes. 

Tools and Equipment

Important tools and equipment for your home studio include the following items:

  • A heated palette to mix encaustic paint and medium on with temperature controls.

  • A palette surface thermometer to assist you in keeping the temperature of your palette within a safe range (180 - 200°F).

  • Fusing tools that enable you to fuse (or re-heat) each layer to ensure that it is adhered to your substrate.

  • Natural bristle brushes for painting (don’t use synthetic as they will melt).

  • An assortment of mark-making tools for etching and drawing.

  • A selection of a rigid, absorbent, and heat resistant supports. 

  • Soy wax for clean-up.

  • Palette cups to keep melted waxes separate on your palette. 

  • Encaustic paint in an assortment of opaque and transparent colors. 

Download our Basic Encaustic Manual and our guide to Ventilating Your Studio for Encaustic Paints.

For information on the safe working temperatures, download our Temperature Chart.