Studio Time: Encaustic Medium Cake Sizes

encaustic_muffinAfter I make a batch of encaustic medium in the crock-pot, I like to measure it out into usable portions.  Typically I have been using  metal baking pans appropriated from the kitchen.  Most of the medium is ladled into metal muffin pans in two sizes, medium and large (not extra large). Once cooled, the tins are placed in the freezer to harden so that they will fall out of the tins easily. The smaller cakes are used either whole, or broken up and melted with color cakes to create transparent washes.

encaustic_blockA portion is poured into a bread pan, which will be placed on the heating surface as a larger reservoir. I use this to separate either sections or full painting surfaces with layers of medium. Or, to build up textural surfaces, embed objects, seal transfers and sgraffito work. The larger muffin cakes are used to replenish this quantity as needed.

Recently I experimented with  flexible silicone bakeware. I bought a Wilton “bite size” brownie pan on sale at a local craft store. “Individual cavities are 1.5 x 1.5 x .75 in. deep.”  I am a convert. Silicon molds are now my new favorite tool. I love the ease of removing the cakes, either at room temperature or cold.  Additionally, this small size fits into any paint container on my palette and is very convenient. My only caution regarding the use of these molds has to do with their flexibility. Either let the encaustic cubes cool before moving the molds, or place the molds on a board or cookie sheet prior to filling. Because they are flexible, it is possible that they will flex and spill hot wax when you are moving them if not supported well.

encaustic_cubesAdditionally, the small molds could  be used to build up a repository of custom colors. Instead of leaving a small amount of paint in a larger cup or tin, to be saved for some future time, pour it off into several small cubes. Keep for another painting, save with documentation for a completed painting for possible future repair work, or exchange with other artists or students.

My metal pans are beaten up with years of use. From now on, I am on the lookout for replacement silicon molds.

[Music in the studio: “James Taylor: Live at the Beacon Theatre,” 1996;  “Paul Simon: Graceland: The African Concert”, 1987. Both on DVD from Netflix.]

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