I feel that making encaustic medium is an integral part of the process. I get to melt the resin to a certain consistency, and then add the wax mixing the two together to make this fantastic material. Alchemy! Of course I can buy pre-made blocks of medium, but for me that feels like a bit of a disconnect. Plus, just like when I'm painting, the smell is fantastic!
If you know this skip ahead, if you don't, prepare for a bit of learnin'. Encaustic medium is made from mixing encaustic resin (crystallized tree sap) and beeswax. The mixture has a particular ratio to make sure that the wax isn't too hard (it would cause paintings to crack and flake), or too soft (making a painting very prone to damage). Artist Helen Nagy has a great matrix breaking down the right ratio.
The last batch I made, which you will see in the pictures, was a bear! Melting the resin...it took like 3 hours of constant stirring. Clearly I was doing something wrong. I did get it to melt and added the wax, but the next day I had shoulders of pain. Youtube has come to my rescue.
I was watching an artist that was demonstrating her process: she uses a small crock pot where she just tosses in the resin and wax and lets them slowly melt together. Lightbulbs projected from my shoulders. I ran out to a second hand store and purchased my own small encaustic medium making crockpot.