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Enkaustikos Wax Medium as a Top Coat for Watercolors

Below you will find step-by-step instructions for protecting your works on paper with encaustic wax medium. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Watercolorists are finding that Enkaustikos Wax Medium and XD Wax Medium are a great way to protect their paintings instead of framing behind glass. Here are simple steps to follow to bring a new dimension to your art. 

1. Prepare your finished watercolor by mounting it to a rigid surface. The watercolor shown has been mounted to a cradled hardwood panel with an acrylic gesso as the adhesive agent. Other adhesives such as PVA glue for book binding and Yes Paste can be used as well.

2. Once you have securely mounted your watercolor to the substrate and the adhesive is dry, trim any excess paper away so the watercolor is flush with the edge of your rigid surface.
3. Have Enkaustikos Wax Medium or XD Wax Medium thoroughly heated in a metal container. We recommend using a pancake griddle set to approx. 175 degrees F. The more wax medium that is in the container, the longer it will take to liquefy. Do not speed melting time by increasing the heat.
4. Using a Hake brush or other soft natural bristle brush, evenly apply thin layers of wax medium to the surface of your watercolor. The wax medium will get milky as it cools.
5. Using a heat gun set on low and about 12" away from the surface of the painting, apply heat in circular motions to re-melt the wax medium on the surface of your watercolor. This process is called “fusing” and will cause the wax medium to sink into the paper and form a permanent bond with the paper. Once this has cooled, reapply another layer of wax medium and gently fuse this layer to your painting.  You will notice with gently and thorough fusing that the wax will lose a lot of the texture from the brush stroke. Less wax medium will be absorbed this time and any evidence of undesired brush strokes or pooling of medium can be scraped off with a pottery loop.  Scrape until you achieve the desired thickness of wax.

6. A glossy plate finish is achieved by gently scraping and fusing several applications of wax medium until there are no scrape marks or brush strokes evident. Wax medium is not completely translucent, so keep your layers thin if you want to have maximum visibility of your painting. A final polish with a soft cloth will bring out the shine. Your painting is now preserved. 
Project by Kathryn Bevier
Photographs by Aaron Thomas
Watercolor by Robert J. O’Brien
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