Wikipedia has a relatively accurate entry on encaustic:
and an entry profiling one of the most famous/cliche early uses of encaustic. Considering the age of these, most are in incredibly good condition:
On the last page of the instructable I have some information about using it and non-painting uses for it. So if you're not sure, skip ahead to that to see the possibilities. I'll also be posting further instructables on the subject.
This instructable is about making the medium and turning it into paint. While it's beautiful and versatile, there are a number of very important safety concerns that are included. There is a chance for serious injury while working with these materials, but all good art involves risk, so be smart and you should be fine.
Step 1: Materials and Equipment
- bleached beeswax pastilles http://www.danielsmith.com/products~sku~284+020+006.asp
- gum damar crystals http://www.danielsmith.com/products~sku~284+470+015.asp
Dry powdered pigments are the way to go if you're making much of any given color. http://www.danielsmith.com/subcat~cat~800201301.asp
If you only need a small amount of any given color you can use oil paint. This isn't very efficient, though, which is why it's only smart to use it for a color you don't need much of.
Most of the equipment involved will have to be devoted to encaustic, because encaustic should not come in contact with anything you eat.
- an empty aluminum (soda) can
- a can opener
- a pair of pliers
- a heat source (an electric griddle is best but it is possible to do this on a stovetop)
- a mortar and pestle or other crushing method (the more crushed the damar is the faster it disolved)
- a mini-muffin tin (mine is silicone, which makes it easy to remove the wax once it's hardened) or a similar mold
You will never, ever, ever use this for food again.
- something plastic or wooden for stirring.
This will need to be okay to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I use the handle of a plastic spoon for most stirring, and wooden popsicle stick and toothpicks for some things.
- a scale.
The one in this picture is a postal scale, and that's not right. I flaked when I took the picture. You want a kitchen type scale for this that measures in 1 gram increments.
- oven mitts, an 'ove glove' or some other way to not burn your hands
- a metal knife or palette knife.
A butter knife would do the job, but again, not the one you use for butter.