Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN

Minding our beeswax

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I got a text last night after the store closed. It got me thinking about a couple of trends we’ve noticed that have something in common.


Tell Alex we have wax coming out of our ears. (but we mainly sell the stuff from bees and plants)

Wax is amazing smooth sticky stuff. We carry it for scads of uses and on the main it’s pretty much all the same bee and soy waxes in different formats (power, blocks, granules). It is a removable resist for water based techniques (fiber, batik, watercolor).It’s a mixable medium and finish for oil based media. On its own you can make sculptures out of wax for 3D sketching and for castings (lost wax technique).  It’s also in all the colored pencils in some quantity.


Hey Paige, there was a bunch of bees in here a little while ago asking for you.


Wax is a traditional matting and stiffening agent for oil paints and finishes.

Oil painters use wax mediums like these in the paint to get a stiffer texture for brush and knife strokes and in some mixtures the result  can be burnished to a satin luster. They are available ready to use or can be prepared with basic materials and a good recipe. There is a wealth of information on cold wax technique here.  As a finishing touch wax and wax mixed with varnish are often applied to a completed painting for a similar result. Note that the wax finishes will take much longer to cure and will never be as hard, but are easily removed for cleaning. Encaustics are a kind of paint made of wax enjoying a revival ove rthe last couple of years. We wrote about them a little while ago. I think the resurgence comes with the trend of having electricity available in artists studios and also the greater availability of proper surfaces like Ampersand cradled boards.  The colors have to be used hot and most painters can now have a hot plate on their table for heating the color palette or the panel itself to keep it workable. There’s a hot wax aroma in an encaustic studio which some people dig but ventilation is suggested. Boards are the most popular surface for encaustic painting, it doesn’t bend and flex as well as oils. These paintings have a harder finish than the oil mediums and can also be burnished to a beautiful warm patina with amazing depth of color.

We have little cakes of fine beeswax and kistka (the needle used to draw the design on the eggs) on order right now for one of our most popular free demo event, Ukrainian Egg Decorating. Everyone says this particular wax smells wonderful!  We are also getting a few dozen goose and chicken eggs from a local farmer friend that will be already blown out for ornaments and display!


We have a wonderful sample egg in our display case! Ask to see it!

Author: scottfares

Scott has returned to Wet Paint where he loves the people, the materials, and the view of Grand Avenue. He’s excited to be back in the shop talking to customers and sharing what he knows about the pencils and paints and brushes. In addition to being one of the new co-owners of the store Scott is also a neighbor who will walk to work-unless it is really, really cold.

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