How to Create an Encaustic Wax Painting on a Mirror

What You'll Need
Natural beeswax
Heat-resistant (encaustic) pigments
Damar resin
Palette knife, metal objects to add texture
Brushes with natural bristles
Hot palette and thermometer
Small empty aluminum cans or muffin pan for colors
Heat gun, iron or propane torch
Paraffin wax
Clear acrylic glaze
Mirror surface
Masking tape
Rice paper
Cotton gauze fabric

An encaustic wax painting turns a simple mirror into an exquisite work of art. The ancient technique using translucent wax mixed with heat-resistant color allows light to flow through and be reflected back from the mirror's surface below. Learn how to create an encaustic wax painting on a mirror from the directions below.

Step 1: Melt Beeswax and Prepare the Encaustic Pigments

Cut the beeswax blocks into small pieces and melt them in the hot palette. Keep the wax at a temperature of 175 degrees F and mix in damar resin to bring the wax to the desired consistency. Add the wax to the paints measured out into separate tins or heat the paint in the tins over the hot palette and add the wax then.

Step 2: Warm Up the Mirror to Room Temperature

Use the heat gun to warm the mirror up to room temperature or slightly higher. Around 75 to 80 degrees F will prevent the mirror from cracking when it comes in contact with the hot wax.

Step 3: Layer Rice Paper or Lightweight Cotton Gauze onto the Mirror

Fasten sheets of rice paper or a length of loosely woven cotton gauze onto the mirror to capture and hold the color and wax. Tape off 1 inch around the edge of the mirror to keep it free of paint for mounting later.

Step 4: Paint the Encaustic Paint/Wax Mixture onto the Mirror

Use a fresh clean natural bristle brush to apply each distinct color to prevent color blending where the design does not call for it. Keep the blend of wax and color very translucent to allow reflected light to come back through it from the mirror.

Step 5: Apply Heat to the Painting

Use a hot air generator to go over the painting at about 6 inches distance to warm up the wax and mirror glass slowly, to avoid cracking the mirror. This will enable the wax to flow more rapidly and thinly over the mirror surface and the fabric that is stretched over it.

Step 6: Create the Design on the Mirror

Spread the paint blend around with the palette knife, a potato masher, a fork, a stylus and other metal objects to create texture in the painting. Keep the mirror surface warm to enable the wax and paint to flow freely, by running the hot air generator over the mirror surface every 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 7: Finish with a Final Burn

Heat the painted surface once more after you have finalized the designs and textures of the painting. This final heating helps meld the layers of paint and wax together.

Step 8: Add a Clear Glaze

When the wax has solidified, use a natural bristle brush to wash a clear acrylic glaze over the entire painted surface for a better reflective quality.