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Irreverent Encaustics #5

January 17, 2021 . . .

Today is the first of my Irreverent Encaustics ‘how to’ blog entries! We’re going to be doing things with encaustic painting we’re not supposed to be doing so stay with me for lots of Encaustic Tips and Tricks! Hey- if it works, why not? I have no idea what I’m doing as far as getting photos/videos up on this website but I do know a trick or two about encaustic painting! So, stay with me and don’t be too critical, I’ll learn as we go. In the meantime, maybe you’ll learn something new as well.

All the materials we’ll be using today I have listed in the previous blog entry, #4 and have a link to if you’re new to encaustics. There are a couple I didn’t think to mention such as my lizard warmer, that I’ll tell you about when we use it later, haha!

This is a quick and easy little 5”x 5” self hanging piece but I have a couple of tips that you can use no matter the size you choose to work on.

First we have to be sure our surface is dust free.

We’re going to prepare our board.  I usually use a heavy, inexpensive black acrylic paint for the edges of the board.

I hate gloves so I just cut off a finger tip and use that . . . Then dab and spread the paint all along the sides of the board.

Now for the surface . . . I’m using 140# Cason watercolor paper cut from an 11”x 15” sheet. There are 30 sheets in a pad and I can get six 5”x 5” pieces from one sheet with a very little waste which I save and keep handy for test strips.

Apply a coat of BEST-TEST rubber cement to the wood surface as well as a coat to the back side of the WC paper. I buy the 32oz can and transfer to a smaller bottle that has a brush. The back side of the watercolor paper being the smoother side. You want the bumpier side up. Do not put paper to block until both have thoroughly dried. If you’re in a hurry, dry with the heat gun. I usually spend a day prepping boards and just let them all dry naturally.

After both sides have dried, choose a corner . . . You only have ONE chance with this step . . . and press the paper to the block. Use a brayer if you like. There may be a little overhang, try to get all your overhang off two sides rather than centering the paper and having to trim four sides rather than two. Trim the edge with an x-acto then sand the edges all around using a downward motion. This assures that the raw paper edge will soak in a little more wax and seal securely to the wood base.

Some prefer taping off the block and painting the edges later or even leaving them plain. Some collectors like to see the wax drips on the sides of the panels so I sometimes leave a little of that. If you use tape always try to fold back a wee little bit of tape onto itself when you finish taping. This is a habit, once established, will save you SO much frustration in the future.

If you prefer to gesso your block be sure to use encaustic gesso made especially for encaustic painting and you apply at least two coats. One brushed in in one direction and the second coat brushed on across that. I rarely sand the gesso, it depends upon how smooth I need the texture. I believe the dry, unsanded gesso gives a better ‘tooth’ for the wax.

OK . . . Now, here comes the irreverent part! Encaustic tip, trick technique coming up . . . You’ll need the least expensive (think Dollar Store) watercolor set that you can find. A big bottle of hand sanitizer, a small lid or something to hold a few squirts of sanitizer, an old brush- or I suppose you could use the one in your set- and a small spray bottle with water. Spritz your watercolor pans with water, dip your brush in a glob or hand cleaner and transfer it to a pan color, you want a soft color, not dark . . . That’s why these cheap watercolors work so well, they don’t have a lot of pigment . . . spread some color around. Think beach sand, water, sky colors or mountains, trees, etc and just get a little color on the paper. Don’t worry about what it looks like at this point because it will look totally different later. Just try not to get too much color on and certainly don’t work it so long that the paper becomes saturated. This should be a quick process. I apologize for the glare, I realize now you can’t see my painted surface too well. I changed camera angles when I noticed this so you’ll see it a little later.


I’m going to stop here, before we get to the wax and will start off with that the first thing tomorrow! Until then, if you have the time, go ahead and prepare several boards so you’ll always have one ready to go. I usually take a day just for board prep, just to get the drudgery part out of the way!

Below is a list of tools and materials I used today. I have the blocks on my site under browse work and then supplies and the watercolor set is a Dollar Store item. Everything else comes from Amazon. Since I am an Amazon affiliate I may (or may not) make a few cents from a sale from my website but it will not affect your price in any way. In fact you may even find items that are discounted so be sure to look at other items and compare prices. I only suggest and list tools and materials that I use personally and I only buy items that have 4-1/2 to 5 stars!

Tomorrow we’ll burn some wax and I’ll show you a little trick that I use all the time. In the meantime if you have any encaustic questions or if you’re having a problem with a piece, I’ve probably had the same problem somewhere along the way, let me know. I’ll be glad to help if I can, just click on the contact link at the top of the page and send me an email.

See ya tomorrow! Stay safe and stay healthy!


This is a good, heavy watercolor paper. As long as you don’t overwork and ‘scrub’ into the paper and cause it to separate or ball up this is fine for encaustic. I like that Canson seems to be a little more porous than some which is good for our purpose.

You’ll save in the long run by buying just one small bottle of rubber cement with the brush and then buying the 32 oz can to refill. Finding the right glue for this purpose was one of toughest tasks. I have tried so many, from Elmers to expensive PVA glues and this is what works best for me, as long as you coat both sides of your project and only stick the two sides together after they are dry. It will not hold up if you put the sides together while wet. The downside to using rubber cement in this manner is that it is not positionable.

Practically any paper type tape will work for our purpose, this is just the one I use. I buy it in several different widths.

If you use gesso, and you will want to on some projects, this is the best, if not the only brand to use. Please don’t use regular gesso, it must be encaustic gesso. Again, I buy in larger quantities and refill into this smaller container which is easier to have at hand while working.


You may not use a heat gun to dry the glue but you will need one. I like this one because it has a dual speed which I can easily switch back and forth. The price is great and they really last. No need to buy a larger or more expensive heat gun, this one works great.



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