Setting up Your Encaustic Studio: Materials & Equipment in Detail

I have received so many emails and questions asking about my encaustic studio set-up and the equipment in it, I decided to write a post about it so it’s all right here for everyone to reference.

Happy New Year! A little late, but better late than never.

The past few years have brought about many changes in everyone’s lives and as evidenced by the amount of questions I have received on the subject, it seems that many are relocating, downsizing and/or updating their encaustic studio spaces. I have received so many emails and questions asking about my personal encaustic studio set-up and the equipment in it, I decided to write a post about it so it’s all right here for everyone to reference.

My studio space is a little over 300 square feet and about a third of it is devoted to encaustic and cold wax, so a lot of magic happens in a very small space. I have never boasted a fancy space, you’ll not see me in a pristine Instagram photoshoot making paintings while donned in roller skates and a bikini-I’m a real person, making real art in a real studio, down and dirty. So if you’re here to look at an amazing studio space, this ain’t the place to do that. I’m here to show you that you don’t need anything especially fancy, large or expensive in order to make good art.

It seems that many artists have been inquiring about downsizing rather than upgrading and my studio is definitely a downsize from most, so I think this article will be helpful. For space organization and equipment ideas, see the images below as well as a list with purchase links. If you see something in the photos that I don’t list, please email me or leave a comment. Everything listed below can be purchased at my Everything Encaustic Amazon Store unless otherwise noted.

Studio Furniture & Design

  • Tables Ikea is a wonderful place, as you all know. The table in front of the window is similar to this one and I really love the shelf at the bottom, plus the table itself is adjustable. The table to the left is from Amazon and is your basic, sturdy, good quality table. I also highly recommend stainless steel tables which can just be heated and wiped when wax drips, plus you don’t have to spend extra money on silicone sheets to cover the tabletop.
  • Lighting Home Depot fluorescent strips and track lighting. This is more than enough lighting, my studio looks like the sun.
  • Electricity If you’re lucky enough to be upgrading your electricity, install 200 amp service on 2 or more separate circuits around the room.
  • Chair Basic tall desk chair if you prefer to sit..make sure it’s adjustable. I prefer a chair without arms because they just get in the way.
  • Mats Better for your back than sitting is to stand at a tall table, but make sure you have good cushioning under your feet. These mats are a great value and your feet and lower back will thank you years from now. My studio assistant kitties love to sharpen their claws on them, so unless you want holes in yours, keep them away from your furry friends.
  • Paint Storage I recommend storing your paints in drawers to keep them dust free-so the dust doesn’t get in your paintings, of course. I wish I could share where to purchase my paint storage cabinet, but I’m not sure where to buy one.. I purchased it used from Craigslist-it’s very old, very heavy and exactly what I needed when I was shopping. Try Facebook Marketplace in addition to Craigslist, I find amazing deals from locals in my neighborhood on there.

Studio Encaustic Equipment

  • Roland Hot Box Use for encaustic monoprints. This is available from Vent a Fume and the link will take you to their very comprehensive information page. I have the double size box and it’s sufficient for many things. I know many people who have the single and wish they had a double size, but you’ll have to make that decision based on the size of work you’re comfortable making. R&F has encaustic monoprint classes and everyone gets a hotbox to try, so maybe you should take a class first to figure out what size you like.
  • Vent a Fume portable ventilation system that can be installed via casement window in basement or through wall. Consult Vent a Fume initially for advice and HVAC to install. If you have a window, these window exhaust fans are an excellent supplement to the VAF. Make sure any fresh air ventilation is in front of you-meaning the fumes are being pulled away from you as you stand at the encaustic work table.
  • Extra Large Pancake Griddle I can’t tell you how many people ask me about my griddle! It’s much larger than your basic pancake griddle and allows much more room for paint mixing.
  • Small Electric Skillet I like to keep my medium separate from my colors so this little 7×7 inch skillet is perfect.
  • Paint Pans I use these disposable mini bread pans for my medium and bulk colors and these cupcake pans for smaller amounts of color-I like that they are extremely economical and I can easily form them into a spout for pouring. Just a note that R&F does not recommend aluminum pans for paints as they can sometimes discolor them. When I taught with Dietlind Vander Schaaf last summer she had these extra large paint pans for medium and I’ve actually started to collect them in my studio as well.
  • Embossing Heat Tool I prefer these tools to larger heat guns-I can turn them on/off with one hand, they’re much lighter and they take up less room. They don’t get as hot as the larger ones, but they work just fine for encaustic purposes.
  • Silicone Sheets I used paper for years to cover my work surface and absolutely hated changing it. Silicone baking sheets are so easy to clean and pay for themselves as they rarely need to be replaced. I have smaller sheets, but now you can get a larger silicone mat here.
  • Irons For collage and small paintings, I use the Clover Mini Iron and the Dritz Petite Press. The Petite Press goes in and out of a favor on Amazon, so if it’s not available there, search it on Google. These are my go-to irons and are also available at Joanne’s, Walmart and Michaels. For larger areas and larger paintings, I use the Hangar 9 Sealing Iron.
  • Hake Brushes Most encaustic painters use these goat’s hair brushes and they are available in a wide range of sizes, quality and prices at Michaels and other art supply stores as well as my Amazon Encaustic Store. I would recommend starting out with .5 inch, 1 inch, 1.5, 2, 2.5. Any larger than that is too big and not necessary. Also good to have around are hogs bristle brushes in those sizes as well as very small sizes. Whatever you purchase, make sure it is a natural hair brush and not a synthetic as these will melt.

Author: lorraineglessner

I'm a mixed media artist, workshop instructor and former assistant professor at tyler school of art in Philadelphia, PA.

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