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Williamsburg Wax Medium

Page14_1From the very beginning, oil painters have used mediums to extend, modify, tweak and transform their paint in one way or another. These have run the gamut from the simple use of solvents when creating an initial wash to much more complex concoctions and recipes that involve the blending of various oils, resins, balsams, and waxes. While Williamsburg has always supplied many of the base ingredients for painters who like to make their own mediums, we want to also take this opportunity to highlight our Wax Medium, which comes ready to use and is offered in 8, 16, and 32 oz. cans only.

Wax Medium

A mainstay from the earliest days of the company, Williamsburg’s Wax Medium is made from a combination of linseed oil, bleached beeswax and dammar crystals that have been carefully melted and blended together. Unlike other wax pastes currently on the market, our Wax Medium contains absolutely no solvent, making it especially attractive to painters wanting to minimize their exposure to solvents in the studio. Having the feel of a soft paste when scooped from the can, it quickly becomes silky and quite fluid under the pressure of a palette knife as it is worked by itself or blended into paint. It is also unique in that it will form a film even on its own. This is particularly significant because most other wax pastes do not, and adding too high a percentage of wax by itself can cause problems of brittleness and poor adhesion. By contrast, because our Wax Medium starts with a blend of wax and oil together, a painter has much more freedom and leeway in how it is used.

Wax Medium blended with Williamsburg's Slate Black and Alizarin Orange Oil Colors.

Wax Medium blended with Williamsburg’s Slate Black and Alizarin Orange Oil Colors.

Small additions of 10-20% of Wax Medium will give one’s paint a thinner, more flowing consistency, with none of the fumes associated with mineral spirits or turpentine. As one moves into higher ratios, the paint will start to gain a beautiful translucency, while drying to more and more of a satiny sheen. However, some caution should be used at these higher levels since the paint will dry to an increasingly softer film the more wax you add, while greater transparency will make the mixture more vulnerable to the eventual yellowing of the oils. Because of that, it is best to limit applications with higher percentages of the Wax Medium to the upper layers of a painting, and when creating more translucent effects, leaning toward warmer colors where any yellowing will have the least impact. Lastly, Wax Medium can also be blended with other oils and alkyds to create a wide range of variations. A moderate drier, a 3 mil layer which is about the thickness of a piece of office paper, will dry in 4-7 days.

2 Responses to Williamsburg Wax Medium

  1. Dan June 29, 2018 at 8:23 pm #

    Thank you Sarah for that helpful exciting explanation.
    Sounds like a great alternative to more common solvent CWM. Questions:
    You recommend this wax medium in combination with encaustic?
    And may you prescribe acceptable wax/damar/linseed oil proportions?

    Thanx,
    Dan

    • Sarah Sands July 2, 2018 at 9:19 am #

      Hi Dan – While technically Williamsburg’s Wax Medium could be added to encaustic you want to be careful and not overdo it. As this diagram from R&F Encaustic shows, you can end up with an unstable film if the wax and oil ratio approached 50%. For the sake of the diagram, you can use the pigment stick to represent the wax medium:

      http://www.rfpaints.com/media/k2/items/cache/3abb66d58aa91d2b7b16f08ee38a95c0_XL.jpg

      As we are not experts in encaustic, we would refer you to one of the encaustic paint manufacturers (R&F, Encaustikos) for additional guidance.

      In terms of an acceptable wax/damar/linseed proportions, we are not sure what context you are asking about. For making a wax medium for oil paint? As something to add to encaustics? Our own recipe is proprietary, but if look for recipes for encaustic medium as a starting point, you will find most range from 9:2 to 10:1 ratio of wax to damar. The amount of linseed oil that is added at that point places you along that oil paint/encaustic spectrum of the diagram, so a lot will depend on what you want to achieve and which medium you are working in. For oil paints, we would normally advise t keep the wax content as low as possible, with 10-15% being a good maximum.

      Hope that helps as always.

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