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Williamsburg Wax Medium

By Sarah Sands

From the very beginning, oil painters have used mediums to extend, modify, tweak and transform their paint in one way or another. These have run the gamut from the simple use of solvents when creating an initial wash to much more complex concoctions and recipes that involve the blending of various oils, resins, balsams, and waxes. While Williamsburg has always supplied many of the base ingredients for painters who like to make their own mediums, we want to also take this opportunity to highlight our Wax Medium, which comes ready to use and is offered in 8, 16, and 32 oz. cans only.

The effects of QoR Watercolors on (left) QoR Watercolor Ground, (center) QoR Cold Press Ground and (right) QoR Light Dimensional Ground  QoR Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Indigo, Synthetic Ox Gall Testing (left).
Wax Medium blended with Williamsburg's Slate Black and Alizarin Orange Oil Colors.

Wax Medium

A mainstay from the earliest days of the company, Williamsburg's Wax Medium is made from a combination of linseed oil, bleached beeswax and dammar crystals that have been carefully melted and blended together. Unlike other wax pastes currently on the market, our Wax Medium contains absolutely no solvent, making it especially attractive to painters wanting to minimize their exposure to solvents in the studio. Having the feel of a soft paste when scooped from the can, it quickly becomes silky and quite fluid under the pressure of a palette knife as it is worked by itself or blended into paint. It is also unique in that it will form a film even on its own. This is particularly significant because most other wax pastes do not, and adding too high a percentage of wax by itself can cause problems of brittleness and poor adhesion. By contrast, because our Wax Medium starts with a blend of wax and oil together, a painter has much more freedom and leeway in how it is used.

Small additions of 10-20% of Wax Medium will give one's paint a thinner, more flowing consistency, with none of the fumes associated with mineral spirits or turpentine. As one moves into higher ratios, the paint will start to gain a beautiful translucency, while drying to more and more of a satiny sheen. However, some caution should be used at these higher levels since the paint will dry to an increasingly softer film the more wax you add, while greater transparency will make the mixture more vulnerable to the eventual yellowing of the oils. Because of that, it is best to limit applications with higher percentages of the Wax Medium to the upper layers of a painting, and when creating more translucent effects, leaning toward warmer colors where any yellowing will have the least impact. Lastly, Wax Medium can also be blended with other oils and alkyds to create a wide range of variations. A moderate drier, a 3 mil layer which is about the thickness of a piece of office paper, will dry in 4-7 days.

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