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Art In Wax : Encaustic Art By Hazel Rayfield

Encaustic Art Hot Iron :: Posted by: Hazel on December 17th, 2012

Hot Iron Painting Techniques

I use many different types of heat tool to create my paintings in wax.

Encaustic Art has a wide and varied history of painting techniques and painting style. The words “Encaustic Art” means many things to many people. Some paintings are created with deep layers of wax, with the design almost carved into it, others use mixed medium styles.

I paint in hot wax. I melt the wax using a variety of tools, I have specialist craft irons, stylus tools which I use like a hot palette knife or for detailing with a combination of heated nibs. I also have a hot plate to melt wax directly onto the painting surface or heat the wax to apply with a brush or more conventional painting palette knife.
Encaustic Iron Techniques
I have in the past blogged about using my favorite tool “the stylus heat tool with the micro iron nib” but in this post I am concentrating on the Encaustic iron.

Encaustic Iron Tool

The Encaustic art craft iron may look like a conventional iron but it is especially for the job of heating wax.

I use one of the irons to create parts of my artwork, as a painting tool it is a different shape from many palette knife but once mastered can be used to create bold strokes and also amazing detail. By adjusting the angle and pressure, light and shadow can be introduced into a painting as the flow of the wax can be controlled in this way.

A Very Versatile Tool

As you can see from the first set of photographs on the right;

  • Iron flat to lay a coating of wax onto the card.
  • Angled more upright – the iron tip used.
  • Side angled to make a more defined line.

The iron can be used flat to lay a coating of wax onto the card, which could add lots of wax and colour
or just a light background to work on.

With the more upright angle the iron can apply colour and shape and details, I sometimes use the iron in this position to add even small birds to a landscape.

Side angled to make a more defined line as I show here in the stem of the rose.

I often use the iron in the reverse position as in the photographs below;

  • Creating a line for the horizon.
  • Cutting into the wax to create waves.
  • Loading the side of the iron.
  • Sliding the wax to make a defined block of colour.

hazel rayfield Encaustic art iron
By using this edge of the iron in this reversed position I find I can control the edge of the tool in a way to create a straight line which is useful when painting a landscape or seascape horizon or when creating a candle, and dragging the wax to give a textured effect.

I sometimes use another one of these irons in its up turned position, thus making it into a mini hotplate which is good to add effects to areas of paintings when I don’t want to get out my full sized hotplate.

Combining Techniques

Each of these techniques work together to create the overall paintings.

I may use the Encaustic iron to create an entire picture or just parts of it, but it is an essential tool for me as an Encaustic artist.

I sourced my hot irons via Michael Bossoms website @ and many of my supplies come from here too, I also get supplies from Barry Moulton at Wakes Waxes in Colcester, but there are many suppliers online and worldwide selling encaustic tools and equipment.

Watching Me Paint

All of the photographs published in this post are taken from some of my video demonstrations which are live and available to watch via the Art In Wax Youtube Channel.

More in 2013

For 2013 I am planning to create more online video demonstrations and exhibits.

The plans are in place for the next video which will be a workshop style film, based on painting techniques and adding elements into a picture …… so watch out for that.

I am also working on paintings for a new exhibit for the Art In wax online exhibition page, this will be a series of paintings based on a theme, which I’ll keep as a surprise for now!

What did you think of this blog post? Please leave me a comment below.

Thank you Hazel

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Posted in Encaustic Art | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Encaustic Art Hot Iron”

  1. booboocraft Says:

    Wow always wondered how this process worked thanks for sharing.

    Date posted : December 17th, 2012 at 11:11 am
  2. Barry Moulton Says:

    Hello Hazel,
    Thanks for the link in your latest blog! That’s very kind of you to do that without me asking.
    You use the iron in a painterly way most of the time and produce some wonderful pieces.

    Looking at your work on EncausticWorld, I can see that you don’t use the lifting movement at all?
    That’s why you don’t mention it this blog I suppose, but for those of us that never have painted with other media, the results from lifting the iron (or a combination lifting/smoothing action)are the most useful and exciting.
    Personally, I paint very few wax pictures which don’t incorporate some form of lifting result.

    Perhaps the lifting patterns could be a new project for a future blog?!

    Date posted : December 17th, 2012 at 11:15 am
  3. Hazel Says:

    Thank you Barry that is a great idea for a future post and maybe I will show this in a video demonstration too.

    Not many of my paintings prominently feature this technique but I do sometimes use the flat of the iron in the way you mention to create the lifted effect in the wax, and I agree that the effects can give wonderful and exciting results. The painting called “Country Stream” that features in this blog post , has this type of effect used in the distance and the background behind of the flowers to create the grass and wild flower setting.


    Date posted : December 17th, 2012 at 11:32 am
  4. Delia Kendall Says:

    What a lovely suprise, I opened up email this morning and up popped you along with Welcome back Encaustic Art, Being a complete beginner I now will be able to get all my stuff out again and try to make sense of it all, I will be watching at all times for your demo’s, Have you ever though of doing classes for us learners I live in London (Rotherhithe) which isn’t that far.If you do please keep me in mind, Thanks again for sharing with us. Love Dee.xx

    Date posted : February 12th, 2013 at 12:53 pm
  5. Hazel Says:

    Hi Dee
    Thank you for your comment, great to hear you are painting in encaustic too, it is a wonderful art form and very rewarding 🙂

    Glad the videos are helping you, I don’t have any plans to do any classes but do plans to do some more online videos and an online workshop is planned too.

    If you would like to subscribe to my you tube channel to be informed on when the videos are released

    All the best with your painting


    Date posted : February 12th, 2013 at 1:17 pm
  6. leonard Says:

    Hi Hazel,
    I am keen to get into this form of art and I am in the process of ordering my items. However what does amaze me is the vast difference in the price of the iron. I have seen some craft shops selling them from as little as £19 to £40 and they all look identical. Am I missing something?

    Date posted : February 19th, 2021 at 9:50 pm
  7. Hazel Says:

    Thank you for your comment, Encaustic is a wonderful medium to work in.
    I couldn’t comment on the price of irons, but I hope you enjoy your art.


    Date posted : February 19th, 2021 at 10:25 pm

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