encaustic tools and wax

I have been so excited to share the special art supplies that the kids got for Christmas this year!

Since we live so far away from family, I usually help the kids make an Amazon wish list to share. This year we were blessed by some gift givers and they got everything on our list that we needed to do encaustic painting.

The art supplies were actually  a huge surprise to the kids. Christmas is a great time to strew new resources and ideas, and I’ve been intrigued with encaustics since learning about the technique from a YouTube video.

What is encaustic painting?

The word encaustic means “to burn in” in Greek and it refers to melting and burning layers of wax and varnish. This wax can be tinted different colors. You can read about the history of encaustic painting at the Encaustic Art Institute.

Encaustic painting is an ancient technique, dating back to the Greeks, who used wax to caulk ship hulls. Pigmenting the wax gave rise to the decorating of warships.

Today, with the help of portable heating tools and online shopping, you can find many artists using wax as a painting medium. From scrapbookers who make encaustic greeting cards to modern artists that include wax in their collage pieces – encaustic painting is popular!

melting crayons on the mini iron

Here are the tools we received to get started painting with hot wax:

Playing around with encaustics

applying melted wax to paper

With our first try I didn’t want to get too technical and kill all the fun for the kids. We also didn’t want to use our “nice” boards and wax to test out our iron.

I attached the spatula-looking tip and turned the iron on it’s lowest setting. We used our regular Crayola crayons and some mixed media paper to test out the process. This allowed us to get comfortable with the iron and with melting and applying wax. We also tried some of our beeswax crayons and found that they melted much smoother.

grating wax crayons onto paper to melt

The kids loved melting the wax and seeing how they could apply it to the paper in different ways. They tried different thicknesses and types of paper.

Then they got really creative and started grating wax onto the paper and then melting, letting the wax drip off of the iron, and more.

melted crayon art

In the end, we ended up with some very funky, fun artwork and some ideas for projects in the future. We have been watching a lot of videos demonstrating encaustic techniques, how to make our own wax medium, and brainstorming more tools we would like to acquire.

melted rain art

My only complaint about the mini melting iron was that it had such a small surface that the wax didn’t spread much on the paper. I think once we use our encaustic boards rather than paper that might change though. I think a slighter larger craft iron would help, as would a melting plate where we could melt larger quantities of wax and use brushes to apply layers.

But for now, we are going to continue playing around with this fun art medium!

I have made a Pinterest Board all about encaustic art – with tutorials and kid-friendly project ideas. Please check it out, and let me know what you think of encaustic painting!

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