How do I make my own encaustic medium using beeswax and damar resin?

Please read carefully before beginning!

IMG_1252What you will need to make encaustic medium:

  • Griddle and/or saucepan,
  • beeswax and damar (3.2 oz. damar / 1 pound of wax),
  • wooden or metal spoon/spatula,
  • ladle or sieve,
  • Optional: cheesecloth for a finer filtering,
  • muffin tins,
  • scraper,
  • blow torch/heat gun.

The utensils cannot be used for food afterwards.

Why buy raw materials from Waxworks

When you buy the wax/damar from Waxworks Encaustic Supplies, the bags have been pre-weighed, to make the process easier. We fill the bags with a ratio of 5:1 – one pound of wax is mixed with 3.2 oz. of damar resin to make just over one pound of encaustic medium.

If you are buying your own wax/damar, be sure to weigh out the wax accurately, and use only the damar resin, never the damar varnish. The ratio can be in a range from 5:1 to 8:1 (wax to damar resin).

Directions for making your own encaustic medium:

Use a griddle with higher sides, if you have one, or put a large saucepan on the surface of your flat griddle, and heat to no more than 220 degrees F.
Do not use a sauce pan in your kitchen!
The process is messy, and it’s dangerous to do it on an open burner.
If at any time your medium is smoking, it is TOO HOT! Turn off your griddle immediately!

  • Melt the beeswax, and then sprinkle in the damar

Some people like to grind their damar down to a fine powder by putting in an old coffee grinder (cannot be used for coffee after that!) or putting the damar in a cloth rag/plastic bag and hitting with a hammer. It is not necessary to do this, it only makes the damar mix in a little faster.

  • Gently stir the mixture, with a wooden or metal spoon/spatula, until the damar and wax are combined

It may take awhile, and several turns stirring, as the damar wants to sink to the bottom of the pan when left to sit.
NEVER LEAVE THE GRIDDLE UNATTENDED!
Make sure the temperature does not go above 220 degrees F.
If your wax/damar is smoking, turn it off immediately!

  • IMG_1253Once the wax and damar are incorporated, ladle out the medium into muffin tins (ladle and muffin tins cannot be used for food after this! Pick up these items used or at the dollar store!)
  • If desired, you can pour the wax through a sieve to pick up most of the sediment from both the wax and damar … or line the sieve with cheesecloth to more thoroughly clean it.
  • You can also just pour it into the muffin tins and then let it harden – when you pop them out, most of the sediment will be on the bottom and can be scraped off then. Heat it up first with a blow torch or heat gun to make scraping easier. It helps to put the tins in the freezer to make the medium easier to remove from the muffin tins.

I save the scrapings or ‘dirty’ wax and use it for pieces where texture is appropriate.

Now you are all set, with encaustic medium ready for painting… Add the oil paint as desired (see FAQ for more information this).

1 thought on “How do I make my own encaustic medium using beeswax and damar resin?

  • When is the medium with a 5/1 ratio best used? When is a medium with an 8/1 radio Best used? What is the difference in workability and results?

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