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Tools Of The Trade | Part 2 Incising

Elizabeth Schowachert Encaustic Fine art Incising Metal Dropper

In my last blog I talked about the various tools that one can use to make incisions when working with encaustic medium. There are a lot of options out there, what I am going to cover today is just a few of the different methods that you can use to fill an incision with encaustic medium. I will also address how to clean off the excess wax after filling the incision.

If you know you want to add filled incisions to your work then it is important to make sure that you prepare your surface so that the incisions will be deep enough to capture applied medium.

My recommendation is to prepare your panel with at least 2 even layers of clear wax medium, then apply additional layers of pigmented medium. In this example (after applying a clear medium base of 3 layers) my first layer was red, then a layer of light blue and finally two layers of dark blue. I applied each layer evenly and removed air bubbles in order to create a smooth surface.

Before incising my lines, I let the wax cool down so that it was warm to the touch but not hot (you can use a laser temperature gauge to check the surface temp of the wax which should be about 70 - 80 degrees F). Once the surface reached the correct temperature (in order to easily and cleanly create incisions) I created incised lines using a Wood Carving Metal V-Shaped Incising Tool (SM) and the Dual Head Metal HD Incising tool. As long as there is some depth to an incision it can be filled with medium. If the incisions are shallow and or uneven in depth, then it will be more difficult to achieve an even, clean looking line, so if your objective is to create an even clear line, then make sure your incisions have some good depth.

Duel Head Metal Scraper











Laser Temperature Gauge (Available On Amazon)


Wood Carving Metal V-Shaped Incising Tool (SM)

Dual Head Metal Incising Tool HD

Filling In Incisions With Medium.
There are a few different ways to fill incised lines. The basic process is to create a well that can be filled in with hot liquid medium and then scraped back to reveal the line. You can use a brush or a metal dropper to apply the hot medium to your incised lines. If my objective is to more precisely fill in an incised line then I will use a dropper versus a brush. If I have a lot of incisions and plan on scraping back a wider area of the top surface of my painting then I may choose to apply the fill layer with a brush.
Before applying medium into incisions it is important to let your surface cool down. This will help to maintain the shape and structure of the incision. If the surface temperature is still very hot, it is much more likely you will lose definition.
How to use a dropper to fill in an incision:
1) Fill the dropper with hot medium (make sure your dropper is hot, a cool dropper will clog and not work well)
2) Remove any access drips from the tip
3) Place the dropper tip in the incision and move it in a forward direction while slowly filling in the incision with hot medium. 
4) This method creates a nice clean fill, without a lot of excess wax spilling over the edge of the incision walls.
After you have filled in the incisions you scrape back the wax to reveal the contrasting line below. After all the excess wax has been carefully removed, then apply a light fuse.
I hope this information was helpful...comments are welcomed.
Happy Creating!

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  • Ferne Layne on

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  • Elizabeth on

    Thank you so much Sara. I am more than happy to share my experiences and work. I hope that you are inspired to keep creating, exploring and experimenting, with this wonderful medium, encaustic. Thanks again for the kind comment.

  • sarah on

    Your work is amazing! I love the painting in the background. I bought your DvD and love the textures and the organic circles/bubbles. Thank you for sharing your beauty with us.

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