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Dehan Wax was the first wax designed especially for Modern Encaustic Painting.
It was designed by an Encaustic Painter, for Encaustic Painters to paint Encaustic Paintings with.
It is still the most controllable and the most versatile painting wax I know off.

For Modern Encaustic Painting you need a flat iron, coloured painting wax, smooth card and an electricity supply.

My Materials
The 'paint' I use is Dehan wax, which was the first wax developed just for Encaustic Painters. It was developed in England and I think it is the best on the market (or I wouldn't use it).
Your 'canvas' needs to have a very smooth, none absorbent surface. I use a
smooth card, but I have seen people use glass, plastic, polished wood and tiles.

Why Dehan Wax Is Best

Where It Came From
(Surprise, Surprise) I had a hand in the development of this encaustic painting wax, so naturally it's brilliant.
I had already used various types of wax and knew some of the limitations they had.
I wanted a wax that would get round as many of these limitations as possible.
So I worked with a company that specialized in developing different types of waxes, for many different purposes.
I told them what I wanted this painting wax to do.
They made one.
I tried it and sent it back, saying what I wanted altering.
They made some more.
I tried it and sent it get the idea.
This went on for quite a while.
Eventually, between us we came up with Dehan wax.
Basically it is a very hard wax with an almost plastic feel to it, that does what I want it to do (most of the time anyway).

The pigments used to produce it's 25 colours are extremely stable, so the colours are as light fast as any art medium can be. The colours are all very bright and vivid. This is because you can always tone a colour down by mixing it with it's opposite number, but if you have a subdued colour to start with, you can't brighten it up.
Besides, I like bright colours.

When dry, Dehan encaustic painting wax has a hard, non-sticky surface which feels more like plastic than wax. So it doesn't show finger prints, pick up dust or get scratched accidentally.
It is translucent, with a high surface tension, so it does tend to look watery when it's on the iron.
The high surface tension means that the wax itself doesn't sink into your painting card. Something which does happen with some other waxes. The pigment in those waxes, stain your card. Once the card isn't a bright white any more (ie stained), the colours start to look muddy.
Dehan wax will not stain your painting card, it will always give you clean colours, even if they have all mixed together to produce a 'orrible brown or grey, at least it will be a clean 'orrible brown or grey.
Scrape a portion of the wax away and the card underneath will be white not tinted.
That's a very effective way of highlighting things.

Type of Iron Needed
As this encaustic wax has such a high surface tension, you can use any iron with either a Teflon coated base or smooth metal one. Just as long as it has a flat base, ie one with no holes or indentations in it and a thermostat.
I use a travel iron because it is small and light. You can use a full sized iron if you want to, but it does get heavy after you have used it for a while.
Steam irons are NOT recommended.

When you are painting with Dehan encaustic wax, you can play with the temperature of your iron and get different effects.
More detailed results are obtained at the lower end of the temperature range, while at slightly higher temperatures, you get a smoother finish and the colours combine more easily.

Other Possible Effects
Dehan encaustic wax is translucent, so you can draw things on the painting card, using ink, and then paint over the top of them.
The ink design will show through the wax.
This is how most of the silhouettes I use are done.

If you have done this type of encaustic painting before, using a different wax, at first Dehan wax will appear to be very watery.
This is because it is translucent. Once you work with it, it feels thicker than it looks.
When you first melt it on your iron it tends to pull away from the edges, looking as if it is evaporating.
It isn't, it is just that it doesn't like being spread thinly over the iron's base, and it is trying to clump together in the center of the base, (something to do with that high surface tension again). can use it with other waxes, (so you don't have to throw your old wax away and start again), and it has almost no smell.
There is no beeswax in it at all.

Summing Up
Personally I find Dehan encaustic painting wax more controllable and versatile than other waxes I have tried. In particular the pearl waxes give some beautiful effects, either mixed with other colours or used alone.

Price details
Details of prices, what you need and where to buy it, can be found at Do It Yourself


Encaustic (wax) Painting - How to paint with an iron

Encaustic Paintings by Chris Carrick

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