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Beeswax

The main component of encaustic is beeswax, the secretion made (of course) by bees which is used to build hives or honeycombs. The wax is white in its most natural form, when first secreted by the bee; however, impurities like pollen contaminate and discolor the wax giving to shades of yellows and browns. Contaminants are either filtered, bleached (chemically or naturally) to return it to this white state.

The stability of the wax is one reason these so called contaminants are removed. Additionally they dilute the concentration of the pigment added to give encaustic its color. In combination with a hardener (damar, carnauba, etcetera) and a pigment, the wax can not hold the addition of the contaminant without losing its ability to stay structurally stable. Consider the contaminate in the ratios when choosing to use crude or unrefined beeswax to prevent such problems. However, these ratios can be difficult to gauge and it is suggested that you only use a very small percentage of pigment. The recipe should include the contaminate as part of the combined collection of pigments that make up the necessary percentage. And when making your own concentrated encaustic colors use pharmaceutical grade beeswax. This is particularly important when making white encaustic paints.

To learn more on making your own encaustic paint read How to Make Encaustic Medium and Paint.

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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