Oil Paint medium Recipe – Cold Wax paste

1 part: Beeswax
3 parts: Turpentine
In a double-boiler, melt the beeswax (break into chunks). Remove from heat. Stir in turpentine until a soft paste forms(if possible, do this outdoors). You can make this thinner by adding up to 6 parts turpentine.

Always use proper ventilation when working with solvents.

Wax, damar resin, oil
4 parts: Beeswax
1 part: Damar crystals
1 part: Sun thickened linseed oil
12 parts: Turpentine
Melt wax, linseed oil carefully in a double boiler. Remove from heat and add damar crystals and turpentine. For a thick, buttery, but light consistency in an oil paint, wax combines well with fast drying soft resin and heavy oil.

Fill a jar with chunks of beeswax and pour in orange oil, cap and let sit at room temperature for a couple of days, shaking or stirring once in a while. No heating is required at all. Jeanne suggests that you can try adding damar crystals also, though this is not something she herself has done.

Exploring Conte Crayons – Experimental Recipe for Fine artists and Clay artists

Conte crayons, paper & clay slabs

Exploring Conte Crayons 

by http://www.pistrucciartworks.com/

Although most of us have explored the pastel/crayon/chalk aisle of the local art supply center, we might not have had experience with conte crayons or conte pencils. And few know any history or application of these wonderfully versatile and stable materials.

First invented over 250 years ago to supplement the softer pastel sticks being made and to offer a less fragile end product, the conte crayons of today are made of highly refined materials. Kaolin clay (a product fine enough to be used in quality cosmetics) and pure pigments are compacted to create an extraordinarily rich and smooth graphic material. These crayons are harder and thinner (approximately 1/4″ by about 2½”) than traditional pastels but offer a product that is ideally suited for drawing and sketching on a wide variety of surfaces. They can be blended with paper stumps and removed with a kneaded eraser.

Adored by portrait artists because they hold their edge and can be “pointed” for extremely fine detail work, conte crayons are the perfect addition to any artist’s sketch box. Able to overlay traditional pastel and other graphic media, they are often used to make corrections or to add detail to works in progress. Several color assortments are also available in pencil form. Because of their hardness, conte pastel pencils are premier tools for controlled detail work.


Conte Crayons for Fine Artists

Although I am still in the development stage of this recipe I am including it for artists who may wish to experiment further with this process. I have been very excited about my research so far and the quality of marks that I have been getting with my conte crayons on paper. Artist may be aware of their process in creating their art but tend to buy products ready made. Although this is convenient and for many sufficient there is restrictions to every medium and material. If you create your own art supplies you can alter the ingredients and process which will  allow more freedom in your materials and mediums. Your art supplies will work for you rather than against you.  Artist materials are generally a mixture which includes— a pigment (colorant), binding agent and strengthening material and a process (mixing, baking etc). The binding materials are generally wax, gum solution, plaster of paris, cornstarch, and fine clay (kaolin and ball clay mixture). For this recipe I have chosen to use fine clay as a binding agent for its transluscent, water soluble and color qualities.

Not to mention it is historically a favourite of many of the masters and was developed originally by Francois Jean Conte in the 1795 as a replacement for graphite. 

link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cont%C3%A9
Conté, also known as Conté sticks or Conté crayons, are a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base, square in cross-section. They were invented in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté, who created the combination of clay and graphite in response to the shortage of graphite caused by the Napoleonic Wars (the British naval blockade of France prevented import). Conté crayons had the advantage of being cost-effective to produce, and easy to manufacture in controlled grades of hardness. They are now manufactured using natural pigments (iron oxidescarbon blacktitanium dioxide), clay (kaolin), and a binder (cellulose ether).[1]

Conte Crayon recipe is as follows:

100 grams ball clay
[or you may experiment with a mixture of kaolin & ball clay]
3 grams macaloid

[ OR 5 grams bentonite]

up to 25% pigment depending on strength of color desired.


Mix dry ingredients in a small container. Add a very small amount of water until the mixture is a dry oatmeal texture. Pour onto a piece of wax paper and knead into a ball. If it requires more liquid use a spray bottle on fine mist and continue to knead until it holds together well. You can roll the mixture into any shape or use a rolling pin and cut the mixture into long thin squares or roll out into long rounded shapes. Cut into lengths desired. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes for soft crayons for harder crayons bake for 20 minutes on a metal cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. If you prefer a very soft crayon let dry without baking in the oven. Conte crayons can be sharpened with a good quality pencil sharpener. Save the shavings to experiment with painting and washes.

Such as Mason stains, wedgewood blue is very popular as well as Yellow ochre & red iron oxide stains are used to achieve the sanguine colors

Pigments may be mixed for color variations.

The conte crayons are also water soluble for washes.

(All of these ingredients can be found at a local pottery supply store).

For Charcoal Black Conte: 

50 grams ball clay

3grams macaloid or 5 grams bentonite
1 tsp Black Stain (non toxic)

20 grams charcoal powder

follow mixing instructions as above – still in the development stage but you can alter the ingredients to suit your specific requirements for your artwork.

I was very pleased with how the homemade conte flowed on the paper and smudged – when applied to the paper it smudged, erased and adhered very well to different types of paper. The conte also was water soluble and behaved like watercolor paint making beautiful washes.  I have yet to add gum solution to see how that would effect the pigment as a medium.

Conte Crayons For Ceramic Artists : Use to draw on Bisque claywork prior to glaze application and firing in a kiln.

Excerpt from Ceramicsartdaily.org

Ceramic Conte Recipe

White Ball Clay 50%

Potash Feldspar 25%

Silica 25%


Macaloid 03%

or 5% Bentonite

Colorant up to 15%

Sieve dry through 80 mesh.

Color oxides/mineral colorants and stains

Mix with 45% water

to which a solution of 1% sodium silicate per 100 gms of dry powder.

Form into rolls or squares cut to lengths.

Fire 800′ -950′

1472’F – 1742′ F

low softer – higher harder

Note***** For very soft crayons Bake in an oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes [or if you prefer harder crayons bake for 20 minutes] on a metal cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. If you prefer a very soft crayon let dry without baking in the oven. Conte crayons can be sharpened with a good quality pencil sharpener. Save the shavings to experiment with painting and washes.

Place in a claw grip /drafting pencil up to 1/4” thickness

To reduce smudging before glazing mix 1 tbsp gum solution to 1 pt water in spray bottle. Lightly mist work prior to glazing.

For Pastels or soft fired crayons

Porcelain slip (white) 50gms

add 3% macaloid or 5% bentonite

Mix with stain, oxides, mineral colorants. Use in greenware state or fire 1112′ (600’C) or 1472′ (800”C). Maximum 15% stain or colorant added to mixture.

Art Classes at Coast Collective

Making your own art supplies: Experimenting with Paperclay  & Molding Mediums

projects2011 194
Instructor: Angela Pistrucci Date: Jan 26 Time: Saturday, 10 – 4 pm  Cost: $105

Class Code: 0113-AP-MMW Registration Deadline: Jan 18
Coast Collective
3221 Heatherbell Road
Victoria, BC
V9C 1Y8
Ph: 250.391.5522

Art supplies can be expensive.  In this course you will learn how to make art supplies out of inexpensive  materials found in your cupboards. Easy methods to create mediums that will add  dimension and texture to art forms. We will cover many recipes such as any  color chalkboard paint, recipes for encaustic, paperclay and molding paste (  many other recipes and painting mediums to be available to the class- bring  binder). In this course we will create poly fresco painting and airdry  paperclay for relief. The technical applications for specific projects and  material selection for specific art projects will also be discussed. If you are  itching to add dimension to your artwork or practice with texture and dimension  this is the course for you.

Artist Formula’s

Here are some art recipes I have just stumbled across and thought they might be useful.

A recipe that I have developed that mimics Golden’s molding paste and is less expensive to make your self:

Golden’s Twin

1 part white glue
3 parts polyfilla
6 parts stephens acrylic impasto gel

Use for textural effects -can be sanded and built up as desired. Use for impasto effects, stamping ( place stamps in water prior to pressing onto molding paste for easier release).

Encaustic paint:
excerpt from formula for painters ( & my version in brackets)
Beeswax 8 parts ( I added 6parts beeswax and 2 parts parrafin wax for clarity and hardness)
Damar resin (crushed to powder) 1 parts
sun thickened linseed oil 1 part ( I did not add this – I added extra damar resin -2 parts)
Some recipes add 1 part turpentine – enkaustikos omits this as it is toxic. your choice. I tried both and it did not seem to make much difference whether it was in or not.( I preferred the version I made with the turpentine and paraffin wax additions.).
Combine all ingredients, heat and melt together stirring until mixed thoroughly. pour into muffin containers.
authors note: add oil paint for pigment or schmeinke pastels. Makes an easily handled dry hard cake.
Directions for use: For encaustic technique, reheat and melt this material. grind in the dry pisgments and apply to a rigid panel with a knife. to use in paste form melt the pieces with a equal quantity of turpentine. Thinned sufficiently this will make a painting medium for use with tube oil paints.

Damar Varnish ( excerpt from formula for painters by Robert Massey – excellent book)
Purpose: medium glaze or final picture varnish
1 part damar resin (lumps)
1 part turpentine
place into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. ( I crushed my damar resin crystals first) turn and shake daily until resin is dissolved. This takes 2-3 days. If there are impurities in the varnish strain with a cheesecloth into a clean bottle.
directions for use: oil painting – final varnish dilute solution with equal quantity of turpentine. Egg tempura – dilute solution with 4 times the quantity with turpentine.
Original solution is excellent for a medium to add to other ingredients for paint or glazes.Dries in 1 hour.

Gelatin Solution for paper: (excerpt from robert massy formulas for painters)
Purpose: gelatin solution provides a very clear bath for sizing white papers- making them suitable for painting -and gives extra strength to fragile paper. The old masters often painted with oil paints on sized paper.


1 1/2 leaves
Water                   1 gallon
soak the imported leaf gelation in a pint of water until the fealtine swells to three times in dry thickness; then warm the gelatin and water in a double boiler until the gelatin dissolves.   Pour this solution into the remaining water and stir well to disperse the glue completely.
directions for use In a tray large enought to lay the paper out falt immerse the paper sheets in the glue solution for several hours.  Remove the paper with great care. Bolt each sheet carefully aand hang it up on a clothesline to dry. You can also tack a dry sheet of paper onto a drawing board and brush the solution onto the sheet. Freshly sized paper can also be dried by laying it on a sheet of glass. After the paper has dried spray it with a 4% formaldehyde soluiton to further harden and protect the size.

Note: A standard 37% formaldehyde solution can be purchased at drugstores. One part added to 10 parts water produces the proper solution.

Paperclay Recipe for kiln firing methods:

You can use a variety of different papers and clays to get the effect you want such as stoneware or porcelains. It is by experiment and your favourite clays. The recommended paper to use is newsprint but any paper (with the exception of gloss papers) will do.  Thus ancient paper mixture allows the clay body to open up, lighten the weight and add strength. The recipe for this process is simple and easy – start by shredding the paper ( in a shredder works best and is faster than by hand) Soak overnight at least 24 hours. Next with a blender or drill with a mixing bit attachment mix the soaked paper until a thick paste consistency.  Add your clay in powdered form – 60 parts powdered clay to 40 parts paperclay.

For repairs on bisque or greenware:  Add  1part magic water, 2parts clay  mix until a slip consistency. next add 1 part toilet paper or tissue paper and mix until a smooth paste. glue the broken pieces together or with a small paintbrush paint the cracks with the mixture. let dry and sand with fine sandpaper **carefully***.

Magic Water : used by sculptors and potters to adhere wet clay together after scoring the pieces.
3 tbsp sodium silicate
1-5 tsp soda ash
1 gallon water

Spooze: (use: as above)
1/3 slip
1/3 Karo syrup
1/3 vinegar

Air Dry Paperclay: In a bowl combine
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. salt
warm water  – mix with hands and knead until consistency of clay.
Paperclay recipe #2
1 pkg creative paperclay
2-3 tbsp wallpaper paste
2-3 tbsp water

cut paperclay into chunks  add water and paste. Mix and knead with hands until consistency of toothpaste let dry overnight. seal in ziploc bags.

Oil Pastels ( excerpt from: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=380215)
Kenneth Leslie –Oil Pastel: Materials and Techniques for Today’s Artist (Watson-Guptill, 1990)
Modified recipe. longevity unknown as it depends on the quality of materials being used.

A few warnings.
First: Oils, mineral spirits, and wax are flammable. Do not use near an open flame, or smoke while using them. This implies you should NOT use a gas stove for making OPs. When melting the wax, keep the temperature as low as possible. Wax melts at 140-150F; don’t let it get any hotter. Keep an appropriate type fire-extinguisher or at least some baking soda at hand to extinguish a potential fire. Do NOT attempt to put out such a fire with water.

Second: potentially noxious fumes can develop if you over-heat the wax. When melting the wax, make sure you have adequate ventilation.

Third: the toxicity of some of the pigments. You need to avoid breathing in, inadvertently consuming, or skin contact with, pigment powder. Avoid using the most toxic, and wear a government-approved dust mask and gloves when dealing with the pigments. Wear long sleeves and pants to avoid skin contact. Keep some water and paper towels at hand to clean up any stray pigment dust. Do not mix the pigment with a fan blowing or the window open. It is best to work in your studio, not in the kitchen where pigment might contaminate your food. Keep pets and children out of the area.

(This being said, encaustic painters have worked with pigments in heated wax for hundreds of years.)
Bleached beeswax – this can be purchased at an art store or at Michaels. Bleaching makes it white, which you need for lighter colours. An even purer grade is Pharmaceutical grade, which can be purchased on the Internet. See www.fineartstore.com for a discussion of the pros and cons of different waxes for encaustics, some of which is relevant to the making of OPs.

Pigments – I was able to buy small containers of pure pigment (Demco brand, a Canadian company) at my local art store. All were in the $7-$8 range, except for the one Schminke brand I bought (pthalo blue) which was $30.00.

Odourless Mineral Spirits – Leslie uses turpentine to mix with the powdered pigment to make a paste. I don’t like the smell of turpentine and have substituted OMS. It seems to work fine for this purpose.

Oils – I am currently using half mineral oil (bought at the drugstore) and half Winsor and Newton Stand Oil for my oil. Leslie only uses stand oil, a slow-drying form of linseed oil. Mineral oil is a non-drying oil, which appears to be used in today’s artist-grade OPs. So I have combined the two, but this combination is experimental and subject to change.


Griddle – Some people, including Leslie, recommend melting the wax over hot water, using a double-boiler on an electric hotplate, as the safest method. I have chosen to use an inexpensive griddle with a temperature control (bought at Walmart), based on reading about encaustic equipment. I determined the correct temperature-control setting by heating water in my wax-melting container and measuring the temperature with a cooking thermometer. I do avoid splashing or dripping wax on the griddle surface.

Container for melting the wax – As I make only one OP at a time, I’m using a stainless-steel measuring cup (1/2 or 2/3 cup size) in which to melt the wax. Since the wax cools very rapidly when removed from the heat, you will waste a lot of material if you use too large a container. But you need one which is tall enough to prevent spillage when you are mixing in the oils and pigment paste.

Glass plate for making pigment paste – I bought a glass cutting board at my local Home Hardware store. One side was textured, but the other side was smooth, which is what you want.

Measuring spoons – For dipping out appropriate amounts of the pigments you are going to combine for a given colour. It’s best to have several in different sizes, so you don’t have to stop and clean them during the pigment-mixing stage.

Large flat palette knife, narrower-bladed palette knife – The large knife is used to mix and grind the pigment paste to a smooth consistency on your glass plate.( A glass muller is not necessary.) The narrower-bladed knife is used to stir the melted wax, medium and pigment paste to blend them.

Eye-dropper, syringe – To draw up the right amount of mineral and stand oil from their bottles. Stand oil is very thick, much like honey, so you need a dropper or syringe with a wide opening.

Mask and vinyl gloves – Needed particularly for the pigment-paste mixing stage.

Pastel mould – See below for one type of mould you can use

Oven mitts, and fire-extinguisher or baking-soda – I find that my measuring-cup handle doesn’t actually get hot (I keep the cup at the edge of the griddle), but the gloves will protect your hands if the wax splashes for any reason.
Making the OP:
Step one: Make the pastel mould
Leslie recommends rolling a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil around a cylindrical object of the required diameter to create a tube. I use my pastel holders for this. I happen to have two, one smaller diameter and one larger, so I can make either size. Then you fold over a seam (I double fold the foil to make a secure seam) and fold up the bottom. Remove the cylindrical object at this point. To hold the tube upright, use Play Dough, or you can make a permanent support out of self-hardening clay. Place the mould on newspaper or paper towels so you can catch any drips when you pour the liquid into the mould.

Step two: Make the pigment paste

Wearing a mask and vinyl gloves, place the pigments you are using for the particular colour you want in the centre of your glass plate in a mound. Hollow out the centre and, using an eyedropper, add some Odourless Mineral Spirits a bit at a time. Using the large palette knife, mix and scrape the pigments and OMS together until no lumps remain and the colours are well integrated with each other. Use only as much OMS as is necessary to make a paste. (see illustration)

Step three: Create the medium (Beeswax, Stand oil and Mineral oil combination)

Open the window or ensure other adequate ventilation. Extinguish any open flames. Using a griddle or a double boiler, melt the wax at 140-150F. Do not overheat. Remove the container from the heat and add the stand oil and the mineral oil. The proportion of wax to oil should be approximately 3 or 4 parts beeswax to 1 part oil. I am currently using a mixture of 50% stand oil and 50% mineral oil for the one part oil. If the wax starts to solidify, return the container to the heat briefly.

Step four: Mix the pigment paste and wax medium

The desired proportion of pigment paste to wax medium is approximately 50/50, depending on the pigments used, since pigments have different oil absorption rates. Add the pigment paste to the wax medium mixture and stir well to combine. Return the container to the heat if necessary to keep the wax medium melted, but don’t leave it on the heat for a prolonged time.

Step five: Pour into the prepared mould

Carefully pour the liquid into the mould. Leave the pastel to harden for at least two hours, preferably more. leave the tinfoil on the OP as a wrapper, peeling it back as necessary.

Recipe for cold porcelain paste
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup white glue
stir together until smooth

2 tbsp baby oil
2 tbsp vinegar
colorant – 1 tsp powdered tempera paint
Microwave 30 second intervals and stir for a total of 1 minute and 30 seconds

Mix together and knead -add one tbsp nivea cream

Place in a plastic bag overnight.