Substrate Preparation

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Encaustic Basics Part II- Preparing Substrates, Fusing, Adding ColorElaine Brady Smith loves creating encaustic and mixed media art. Key ingredients in her work are vintage papers and hand printed collage papers made with repetitive marks, simplistic shapes, and transparent layers. Encaustic wax adheres to a variety of surfaces.It is important that the surface is absorbent and porous or it will eventually crack and flake off hence glass, plastic, smooth metals, and any surfaces painted with acrylic paint are not suitable for encaustic.

Good choices for substrates are: Birch Plywood, Regular Plywood, and Unfinished Pine and only if you are doing 2 dimensional works. The substrate should not have been previously treated with any oils or chemicals and as such it is good that you spend some time researching what substrate will best suit your needs and once you decide what type of work you want.

To prepare your substrate, encaustic medium or plain beeswax can be applied directly to most unfinished wood. If you are doing a painting, preparing the surface with a ground of encaustic gesso will enhance and give brighter colour results. Regardless of what type of ground you chose, begin your painting with a primer layer of wax on your substrate because the layers of wax cool very quickly as you add them and will remain individual layers. Through fusing process, the wax melts enough to bond with the layer beneath.There are many more techniques to discuss, but you can see that getting started is very simple. It is not beyond your reach to learn encaustic painting.

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