If you read the previous post about Frances Pratt, you probably know where I’m going next. Yup, the final frontier—cold wax emulsion.
Mostly, we contemporary encaustic dabblers don’t need to make cold wax because we have all the warm wax we need, thanks to electrically heated tools. Purists say that true encaustic requires burning in, and thus only hot wax is encaustic. But cold wax can be fused too, depending on the amount of wax in the recipe and how it’s used. Anyway I prefer to keep an open mind until I try it myself.
I looked at several recipes for cold wax paste to make sure the proportions were more or less standard, and here’s what I came up with:
Basic Cold Wax Paste
5 parts wax chips, flakes, prill
4-5 parts mineral spirits
Mix together in a glass jar and seal with a tight lid to keep the gas from evaporating. Shake the mixture daily. It may take several days to fully dissolve. When emulsified, you should be able to spoon it out like mayonnaise.
Some notes about wax prill.
If you buy bulk white beeswax in prill form, this recipe may not work exactly as expected. When I added mineral spirits to the prill, the wax soaked up the liquid and immediately formed a lumpy paste. I had to add almost twice as much mineral spirits to the wax in order to get it to a paste-like consistency. And even then it globbed up badly within a day or so. I think it has to do with the fact that prill is so small that the process happens too fast.
Thinking that I had screwed up, I tried the cold wax recipe again with slivers of my regular beeswax-damar resin medium. I used a cheese grater and the shreds looked like Mozzarella cheese. This time, when I added precisely five parts wax slivers to five parts mineral spirits, the recipe worked perfectly, and within a few days I had a smooth glistening paste.
Something to consider. I wondered about the lack of damar in the cold wax medium. Damar is so good for extending the melting point of beeswax and controlling bloom. Using my regular wax medium that contained damar helped. But I also learned that you can add a few teaspoons of damar varnish to the cold wax paste. Damar varnish is just resin crystals dissolved in turpentine. Honestly, that’s all it is. But turpentine is slightly toxic so don’t leave it sitting around open.
Now what do you do with cold wax? After Christmas I’ll post about using cold wax to prepare boards and how to make cold wax paint. Then I’m going to try to make some fake Gerhard Richter paintings. Hey, getting a decent idea is hard work! Sometimes a gal has to make do with other people’s ideas.