Jessie Fritsch Encaustics
The most important tool in my studio is my ventilation system. Beeswax is toxic when heated over 250 degrees and can be an irritant even when heated at proper temp. I use a pancake griddle to melt my paints.
I use a heat gun, iron, palette knives, sable brushes, scraping tools and cotton rags.
I heat up Pharmaceutical Grade Beeswax that is mixed with No. 1 Singapore Damar Resin to 180 degrees.
I paint of Baltic Birch (cabinet grade) plywood. I prime the board with beeswax.
I paint on clear wax with a natural bristled brush (can not use synthetic brushes because they will melt.
I fuse the wax into the wood with an iron. It also smooths out the surface. I will coat the board with 3 coats of wax.
I work from photos. I will do a drawing on a piece of paper.
I then take black charcoal and rub it on the back of my drawing.
I then tape drawing on waxed board and with a fine point pen re-draw the drawing so the charcoal that is on the back of the paper is embedded into the wax.
I then have a very detailed line drawing in the wax so I know exactly where to put the paint.
I put my "pucks" of wax directly on the pancake griddle. The wax melts instantly.
I can thin out the pigment with more clear wax. I do not use any mineral spirits or solvents.
I mix the pigments on my pancake griddle. It becomes my palette.
I begin to add the wax. I only have about 5-8 seconds to place the wax before I need to reheat the paint and my brush.
The wax is hard to control so if the wax blobs out I can scrape the paint to a more defined shape.
When I am finished applying all the paint the surface will be full of texture.
Because the wax cools so fast there will be mountains and ridges of wax. I do not want all that texture on this piece.
I take my heat gun and slightly warm the surface while scraping the surface with my palette knife to smooth out the wax.
You can see the wax I took of the painting on the left side of my table
I scrape with a smaller palette knife to remove any wax that got pushed over.
Next is the most important part to the entire process. Fusing. I use a heat gun to fuse the wax in an cohesive sheet of wax.
During the fusing process colors will bleed into the color next to it sometimes. I remove the bleed by scraping it off.
If I want to add line work to the painting I will take the original drawing and line it up just right and re-draw the lines again.
I only add the lines in the areas I want more definition.
I buff off an excess charcoal that is on the surface with a 100% cotton lint-free cloth.
I remove any lines or excess charcoal that is not wanted with a palette knife.
I fuse the charcoal lines into the beeswax with my heat gun.
I remove any extra paint with my palette knife
I pour the wax that is on my palette knife onto a sheet of wax paper. Once paint cools I peel it off and can use again in future.
I never waste any paint. These are some of my paint "chips" that I have mixed over the years.
I test my colors on a sheet of special encaustic paper. Some of the sheets I turn into greeting cards.
If I want a straight line I use painter's tape.