Cold encaustics is a long forgotten, but, thank God, revived version of applying icon-painting pigments to the board.

Compared with the classic yolk tempera, it has a number of great advantages:
  • much more pleasant to apply, dries instantly (but at the same time, if necessary, is soaked with water) and does not wash out the lower layers of the letter.
  • Easily stretches, does not give unnecessary relief.
  • Convenient in storage (stored for more than a year in the refrigerator).
  • There is no need to saturate with linseed oil, but if this is more familiar, you can use it too, or use a special encaustic varnish, but you can also use another one that is familiar to you.
Making fusion is now a pleasure! At the same time, it is visually indistinguishable from the usual egg tempera, which many people make with great violations of technology (how much water to add? And which yolk to take? And to use beer, wine or vinegar? And in what proportions?) .
Here everything is simple – grind the pigment with a ready-made binder – and you can get to work!
Wax tempera in writing technique requires exactly the same principles as yolk tempera, so switching to the use of wax tempera will not be difficult , no need to retrain! (I don’t think you ever want to go back to the egg anymore, encaustic is addictive with the comfort of work).
Below you can read and download the instructions for use and familiarize yourself with it before purchasing.

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Topcoat based on Punic wax.

The varnish is made on the basis of the legendary Punic wax described by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia in 77 AD. It is intended for covering the pictorial layer of the icon created by: wax tempera, oil, encaustic, and also egg tempera.

Punic wax is obtained from natural beeswax using a technology that was used in ancient times in the Roman Empire.

The varnish contains turpentine.

The wax varnish is not intended for covering the gold on the icon, the varnish should only be applied to the paint layer!

Benefits of a Punic wax topcoat.

* The varnish will never turn dark or yellow.

* The varnish dries quickly without collecting dust.

* The varnish after drying gives a matte surface, which is recommended to additionally polish to the desired shine with a dry brush or soft cloth.

* When applying varnish on an icon covered with linseed oil, it significantly decreases

Drying oil “come off”. Drying oil turns less yellow under a layer of varnish made of Punic wax.

Recommendations for applying varnish.

The varnish is applied with a flat synthetic brush on the paint layer of the icon, including the assisted dressing, but do not let the varnish fall on the gilded background and halo.

We recommend applying 10-15 thin coats. (a thin layer of varnish dries from 10 minutes, you can wait longer). The more coats you apply, the more shiny the finish can be when the polish is polished.

Let the varnish dry completely for 1 hour, after which it is recommended to polish the surface with a wide synthetic brush, thereby increasing the transparency and gloss of the coating. After that (preferably the next day), additionally, very easily, polish the surface with a soft cloth (it is best to use a cloth that is usually used for wiping glasses).

Punic wax varnish dries in two stages. The first stage takes a few minutes, immediately after the evaporation of the turpentine varnish. The second stage is additional hardening of the wax, which occurs after one or two days.

If, during coating, a little wax gets on the gold, this is not a problem; after coating the gold with a protective oil varnish, the area where the wax varnish came out on gold will become transparent. (or carefully remove the wax that has come out on the gold with pinene).

It is recommended to cover gold at the end of the work, after covering the painting with wax varnish.

About waxing an icon painted with egg tempera: An icon painted with egg tempera (painting only) must first be covered with a thin layer of drying oil and allowed to dry with drying oil (2-3 days). Then cover with a layer of wax varnish, let the varnish dry and then polish it with a brush. The next day, you can additionally wipe the coating with a soft cloth for an even shine.


Traditional wax tempera for icon painting is ideal for working on glue-chalk gesso. The tradition of using this binder dates back to antiquity, later it was used in Byzantium and Italy. In ancient treatises on painting it was called “Ceracolla”.

Tempera is easily diluted with water.

No special skills or tools are required to work.

Advantages of wax tempera over egg tempera:

  • The wax tempera icon can be overcoated with any solvent-based topcoat without fear of discoloration. The icon does not need to be covered with linseed oil, like egg tempera, which allows you to complete the process of creating an icon very quickly and efficiently without fear of further yellowing of the covering layer.
  • Wax tempera paints have excellent glazing properties that exceed those of egg tempera.
  • When applied, the paints give a structural smear with a slight relief.
  • Paints dry quickly, the hardness of the paint layer is much superior to any other paint, which is very important for the safety of the icon in the future.
  • The wax emulsion is completely transparent and does not distort the color of blue and white pigments like egg tempera.
  • Possesses excellent adhesion to any materials, paints are freely and easily applied to gold-plated surfaces without special preparation. It is very convenient for writing, ornaments, inscriptions, halos and edging. The paints are very durable and do not wear off, which is especially important for the preservation of easily injured edges, naibs and inscriptions. Before painting the icons, the paints placed on the gilding do not need to be fixed with shellac, since they cannot be erased.
  • The paint layer of wax tempera is perfectly polished, which is very convenient when polishing melted gold, while melted gold on wax tempera gives a bright shine.
  • The binder of wax tempera is stored for a very long time (more than one year in the refrigerator at + 5 C).

Preparation of paints:

Dry pigments are ground with a wax emulsion on a slab with a chime. Add as much emulsion to the pigment as needed. While working, you can add as much water as you think is necessary, but if a lot of water is added, add binder as well.

Since wax paints have a thicker consistency, we recommend using core brushes or soft synthetics.

It is also recommended to dry each layer well.

It is not recommended to additionally cover the painting layer with a clean binder, the depth of the paints appears after they are varnished.

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