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Art In Wax : Encaustic Art By Hazel Rayfield

Encaustic Starter Kit Review :: Posted by: Hazel on September 9th, 2013

R & F Paints : Encaustic Starter Kit

I was really excited when Fred Aldous asked me if I would try out a new product they are looking at adding to their Arts and Craft supplies stock.

The parcel arrived last week and it was like getting a wonderful present. I have wanted to try the R & F handmade paints and the Ampersand Encausticbord for some time now but until recently I haven’t seen them readily available in the UK.
R & F Paints Review meadow and  studio Photographs

The picture shown here is what I came up with, also shown is photographs of my work space studio.

We have made a video of me opening the parcel and trying out the paints, you can watch this video below.

Everything you need ……. Just add heat

The kit is full of wonderful ingredients to paint encaustic !

The R&F Encaustic Starter Kit comes packaged inside an 8″ x 10″ cradled Ampersand Encausticbord, which is a great use of packaging.

The set includes :

  • Five 40 ml size blocks of coloured wax
  • Colours are : Titanium White, Indian Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Chromium Oxide Green.
  • Two Ampersand Encausticbords sized 5″ x 7″
  • Soy wax for clean-up
  • Two palette cups, for melting the soy wax
  • Two hake brushes sized 1″ each
  • A basic encaustic manual and colour chart

R & F Handmade Paints

The wax block paints are very vibrant in colour they are made with beeswax, resin and pigment and I had great fun painting with them.

The R & F paint blocks are larger than the wax blocks I normally use …. so lots of wax to paint with! Plus there was a good size bag of wax medium chips, which is good as I used a fair bit of the clear medium, the colours will go a long way.

I mixed the colours a little but only used the five colours provided for the picture shown here. I personally use a lot of colours in my pictures, so would say that just five colours is a good starting point but I would want more very quickly if this was my only wax.

The soy cleaning wax was new to me, I liked this product a lot, it worked really well for cleaning the brush in and between colour changes, and I didn’t need too much of that.

Bearing in mind this is my first experience of this type of painting on this surface, I may or may not have used more or less than would be needed.

The painting shown has a nice depth as the layers of wax are formed, the Poppies and Wild Flowers really stand out and have a strong dimension and yet are much softer then some of my paintings as the fusing between layers softens the edges and gives a blended feel.

The R & F website has lots of information on their Encaustic range, including information on the paints, using different heat sources and supports. Their website suggests ;

“For best results, encaustic should be painted on a rigid, absorbent, and heat resistant surface.”

“R&F recommends Ampersand Encausticbord panels as the preferred support for encaustic painting.”

Ref : Encaustic Support Information

They give details and examples of other supports suitable for working with these paints, I could not find mention the gloss card that I regularly paint onto which is a non absorbent glossy card.

Edit 13.09.13 :
Further to publishing this blog post I have now been in direct contact with R & F Paints and now have lots more information about their wonderful encaustic paints and why they recommend an absorbent painting surface. It is great to know more about the paints and I will be experimenting further and will be keeping my new encaustic paints to use on surfaces as recommended.

Ampersand Encausticbord

Painting onto the Ampersand Encausticbord is very different to painting onto the encaustic gloss card I mostly use for my artwork. I have painted onto other surfaces such as watercolour paper and canvas board but the Ampersand Encausticbord is especially developed for the wax medium and was fun to work with.

I did a little research before starting to paint and decided from what I had read and seen to apply the wax medium in layers onto the encausticbord having heated the surface with my heat tool (I use a hot air, craft heat tool, it looks like a mini hairdryer but doesn’t blow just heats) first.

I layered 4 or 5 coats of clear wax, heating each layer with the hot air tool to fuse the layers of wax. Later adding colour with the brush and again fusing with the hot air. Cleaning the brush between colour changes and adding layers of greens and yellow and mixing the two on the hot plate. I especially like the merging effect of the grasses in the background of the picture shown, they blend together to give a softness.

I then used my stylus tool to add some detail and flowers into the picture, fusing with the hot air each time. There is a snippet of me doing this on the video attached to this post.


The kit included some basic instructions, as I have been working with wax for the past few years I have my own style of working so, although interesting to read the different ideas and techniques I didn’t feel they applied to me very much, they gave some information on the wax, equipment etc and the instructions were clear as just a general guide.

Working and heating the wax

I used my hot plate, hot air tool together with my stylus tools in the process of creating the picture featured in this blog post. I used the brushes from the kit, and the cups adding layers of wax to the ground (surface), I found the quality of the equipment was excellent.

Overall Review

I think this kit is a great product, I have loved using it and experimenting with the different paints, wax and encausticbord. As a starter kit for someone never having used encaustic before they would need to consider what heat tools they would need. But for someone such as myself wanting to try a new product this was ideal as I got to try the handmade wax paints, the encausticbord together with the brushes and cleaning wax, which I found especially useful.

The R & F encaustic paint were great to work with, the colours were amazing and I was really happy with the mixing quality and the overall finish has a great sheen.

I think the surface you paint onto makes a big difference in Encaustic Art. Working on the hard, absorbent surface of the Encausticbord was different for me but I achieved a painting I am happy with. The finished painting is heavier than my normal pieces, the support is sturdy and yet the layers of the wax make the picture feel fragile, I will display this on a easel as it would not be suitable to frame, I think the cradles will be good to use too as they can be hung directly.

I will be working with the encausticbord support again, most likely the cradle type but I will still be painting with my gloss card. I feel my own painting style lends itself to the gloss card surface, as I apply the wax in much thinner layers in my style of painting whereas on the Encausticbord the depth of wax is much more.

It isn’t a case of comparing any of the surfaces, the effects of painting on each are very different. The movement and texture of the Encausticbord and glossy card surfaces and, in deed, the way to paint onto them is different, I like both.

I would like to thank Fred Aldous for asking me to take part in this review, it has been a fun challenge, and has expanded my passion for painting in hot wax.

Watch me paint

We made this short film of me experimenting with the R & F paints encaustic starter kit.

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Posted in Encaustic Art | 17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Encaustic Starter Kit Review”

  1. Stephanie Guy Says:

    Very comprehensive review Hazel and a lovely picture too. I like your hotplate – I hadn’t really understood what it was before, it’s just like a heated palette.

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 10:21 am
  2. Hazel Says:

    Thank you Stephie.
    Yes I use the hotplate in many ways and likening it to a warm palette is a good way to describe it 🙂

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 1:50 pm
  3. Tessa Says:

    Very interesting to see you at work. Well done!

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 10:29 am
  4. Hazel Says:

    Thank you Tessa and for passing on the information about my blog, very much appreciated 🙂

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 1:53 pm
  5. Jeanie Hansford Says:

    Brilliant work! You have come a long way Hazel,and improving all the time
    this blog and video enjoyable to read and watch.Very well done you!! xx

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 11:07 am
  6. Hazel Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it Jeanie
    It has been a great weekend of experimenting with new materials and techniques


    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 1:54 pm
  7. Pat O'Neill Says:

    Wonderful descriptions and love your trial pictures! I must admit I love encaustics and just look forward to the day when my life can allow me to ‘play’ again.

    Thanks to Tessa for letting me know about your blog 🙂

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 1:27 pm
  8. Hazel Says:

    Thank you Pat, yes it is a wonderful medium to work with, I have a passion for painting in the wax too 🙂

    Glad Tessa passed on the information about my Art In Wax blog 🙂


    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 1:57 pm
  9. Clare Sherwen Says:

    That was so interesting, I love seeing behind the scenes!

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 2:56 pm
  10. Hazel Says:

    Thanks Clare – yes I too like to see how people work 🙂

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 7:30 pm
  11. Annabel Says:

    Great comprehensive review Hazel. The video kept stopping but I think that is more to do with my computer! I liked the end product too.

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 7:10 pm
  12. Hazel Says:

    Thank you Annabel, sorry to hear you had trouble watching, I’ve just checked and it all seems OK our end 🙂
    Yes im happy with the picture and will be doing more 🙂

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 7:29 pm
  13. Dallas Says:

    A very comprehensive review Hazel and I loved watching you experiment with them! That brand can be mail-ordered here in Canada otherwise they are not readily available. Love the large size of the blocks!

    I’ve experimented with a heat gun and encaustic melted in a good old-fashioned skillet and loved it but found I used LOADS more encaustic [than on the glossy cards] and felt that if I decided to do that on a regular basis, it would make sense for me to make my own encaustic medium as it’s way too expensive to purchase it ready-made!

    Always enjoy visiting your blog 🙂

    Date posted : September 9th, 2013 at 10:41 pm
  14. Karyn Says:

    Thank you Hazel for the complete review of the kit and the video. I do the social media work for Ampersand and I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts about the cradled piece as well. I’ll share with our audience. You can reach me on Twitter and FB easily. Best to you and your work!

    Date posted : September 23rd, 2013 at 6:21 pm
  15. Hazel Says:

    Thank you Karyn. I have been working with the encausticbord cradle today, I will post some pictures later this week.


    Date posted : September 23rd, 2013 at 6:29 pm
  16. Jabeen Ghauri Says:

    Hi Hazel,

    Thank you for your review on encaustic painting. I am just starting out myself. As you are based in the UK, where did you purchase your hotplate from? It seems a lovely size to work from.


    Date posted : May 16th, 2015 at 5:35 pm
  17. Hazel Says:

    Glad you enjoyed the review Jabeen. All the best with your encaustic painting.

    I bought the hot plate online a long time ago 🙂

    Date posted : May 16th, 2015 at 6:18 pm

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