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Encaustic (Figured) Tiles



"ENCAUSTIC (FIGURED) TILES, having a flat surface with the ornament inlaid, or slipped in various colored liquid clays. These too may have their surface covered with a transparent glaze."
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"Encaustic tiles consist of a slab of clay of uniform color, inlaid with a device of other clays differently colored. In this ware the colors are not superficial, but are incorporated with the body of the clay before burning, either by pugging dry or in the condition of a liquid slip. As to the different coloring ingredients : — Many of the clays which contain less iron, such as the Stourbridge and others in proximity to the coal measures, do not come out of the fire red like brick, but white, cane or buff in all varieties of tint, and stand the attack of fire and weather. Red, salmon and pink will be produced as the iron predominates, altered by mixtures of other clays in their native condition or by oxides of metals. Nickel, for instance, produces a bronze-green tint ; manganese brown ; protoxide of iron and manganese dead black. Carbonaceous matter gives a dark, dull-looking and rather dirty tint, which may be useful in contrast. There is no end to the variety of tints which can be obtained by the admixture of earths and metallic oxides. To economize the inlaid colored clay material, the tile is only formed of it to the depth of about of an inch from the surface, the mass of the tile being made of fire-clay. As, however, the fire-clay generally contracts very differently from the surface layer of colored clays, it is usual to apply to the back of the fire-clay, an equal thickness of about of an inch of the colored clay, in order to preserve the flatness of the tile during the firing. The tile is made with the aid of a press, either by the wet or dry process. By pressing many small holes in the back of the tile, the drying is facilitated, and also the adhesion of the mortar when subsequently used on the wall. The tiles are dried for a week, then heated in a drying oven for two or three weeks, fired in a stone-ware oven for sixty hours, and left in the oven for six days more to cool down. The lineal contraction during these operations amounts, in the wet process, to twenty-nine per cent. of the size of the tile when first moulded. It is less in the' dry process."
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Beckwith, Arthur. International Exhibition, London, 1871: Pottery. Observations on the Materials and Manufacture of Terra-cotta, Stoneware, Fire-Brick, Porcelain, Earthen-ware, Brick, Majolica, and Encaustic Tiles, Remarks on the Products Exhibited. (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1872.) p 36, 42-43.

Saponified Wax

Saponification of wax is done by boiling water, adding beeswax, and ammonia; this results in a creamy paste like substance which pigment can be added. Painting done with saponified waxes are technically not encaustic; however, they are often categorized, defined, and found together.
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Dorland's Wax Medium is an example of commercially produced saponified wax.


Temperatures (Melting and Flash Point)

Melting point: 143º -149º
Flash point: 468º

Bloom is a result when beeswax is exposed
to cold or freezing temperatures. More-so 
when less and less hardener (damar, etc.)
is used; or particularly with straight beeswax.
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Candelilla {click here for more on candelilla}
Melting point: 155º -162º
Flash point: 465º
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Carnauba {click here for more on carnauba wax}
Melting point: 180º -187º
Flash point: 570º
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Microcrystalline
Melting point: 140º -205º
Flash point: 450º
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Paraffin
Melting point: 118º -165º
Flash point: 380º


Read, How to Make Encaustic Medium and Paint  for specifics on making your own paint. Also read Encaustic Safety Precautions, and Respirators for more on keeping you studio safe.

How to Make Encaustic Medium and Paint


Encaustic is pigmented tempered beeswax. To temper beeswax (typically pharmaceutical grade beeswax) add a percentage of a harder wax (candelilla or carnauba no more than 5%) or add a natural resin, typically damar resin (average is 1 part to 8 parts; do not over temper, no more than 1 to 4). Over tempering will cause the encaustic to be brittle and it will flake or chip away. Add about 20% pigment to the mix to obtain encaustic.

Work encaustic at no more than 225º (170º-220º is best)

Encaustic medium is non-pigmented tempered beeswax. Melt wax in a non-iron container. Begin by melting damar resin, and melting beeswax separate. Damar resin melts at 225º, once melted, lower the temperature (around 170º-180º) start adding in the melted beeswax. If you add the beeswax cold/hard, add it to the damar resin in small amounts. Add about 20% pigment to obtain encaustic.

Encaustic does not dry like oil, acrylic, watercolor, et cetera; it only needs to cool, which is done almost instantly. However, one must remember some pigments that are used in this medium have a chemical makeup that do not allow for the wax to set entirely; until minutes, hours, days, and even weeks have gone by. Pigments like carbon black, cadmiums, and quinacridones remain ever so slightly soft until a certain amount of time has passed.

Read more about beeswax and it's variations (e.g. bleached, filtered, etcetera) and other waxes here, Waxes and Other Raw Materials.


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---------------------------------------{ A Note to Readers }---------------------------------------




Revisiting old topics and filling in holes is quite a chore, yet a necessary one, one that will offer more quality information. For example: recent activity and questions surrounding hardboard and/or masonite, has directed our attention to fill in the blanks on that topic (currently under revision/addition), as well as, more about gesso (specifically encaustic gesso) and other topics (search the tabs), all are in the works. 

Prior years were to get as much general information as possible up and available- a starting point. More and more however, new topics are focused and detailed, and old ones will be getting revisiting; removing any possibility of confusion. 

I should point out that this is a one person operation (takes me awhile to get around to everything, ohh yeah, I should make some art), Anyway, where was I?, oh! one person operation..., even though I tend to refer in posts and topics as we, it is to remove the need to revisit things later when it really is we. All of this whilst working, making art, and whatever may be the case.

As always, I welcome any opinions, comments, and questions- simply contact me.

Thank you
Sincerely
Jonathan Parks