UPDATED (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 19, 2020 2:14 PM)
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There many ways to fuse encaustic, which relies on binding many individual layers of encaustic—a paint made from pigment, resin, and melted beeswax—using a source of heat. Blowtorches are a good option if you are comfortable using an open flame; hot irons are well suited for broad and flat coverage. For relatively easy handling, try a heat gun, which excels at keeping the encaustic hot enough to be manipulated with brushes or other implements. Like a hair dryer but more powerful, this tool can give you greater control over the heating process.
1. Wagner Spraytech Heat Gun
This is an excellent no-frills heat gun. It generates heat quickly, fits comfortably in the hand, and provides a consistent flow of hot air for careful fusion of paint layers. You can choose between two temperatures—750⁰ and 1,000⁰ Fahrenheit—to adjust for specific areas of coverage. Wagner offers several models of heat gun, and the HT1000 is powerful enough to treat both small and large wax-based projects (just make sure you keep it moving, especially when using the higher setting). It comes with an integrated stand so you can safely rest it on a table without worrying about the hot end.
2. Etepon Heat Gun
Capable of heating to temperatures between 120⁰ and 1,020⁰ Fahrenheit, this gun is an excellent option if you want maximum temperature control. Etepon’s gun is marketed for DIY crafts and projects, so it’s particularly well suited for working on smaller areas. You can use it as is or attach one of the four included nozzles to provide direct, concentrated heat. This heat gun offers high performance in a compact design, with air flow that is easy to control so you won’t accidentally blow pigments around. A useful cooling mode allows you to set it aside without worry.
3. Chandler Tool Embossing Heat Gun
Designed for embossing, this gun actually serves as a fantastic tool for thorough encaustic fusing as well. The settings are simple—choose between low and high heat—but effective, delivering strong and even heat. This gun stands out for its design: it is lightweight and comfortable to grip for long periods, and the linear body helps ensure that you are holding it perpendicular to the working surface, thereby avoiding unintended movement of pigment. Another smart detail: the tip comes with a plastic shield as a safeguard against burns.
4. Cartman Heat Gun
Designed for all-purpose household use, this heat gun is slightly bigger than the others on our list, but it is still fairly lightweight and comes in a carrying case. The convenient kit also includes several nozzles to better direct and control the flow of heat, which comes out quietly. You can easily toggle between two temperature settings of 750⁰ and 1,000⁰ Fahrenheit. One drawback: it does not feature a stand to safely prop it point-down when not in use, but you can stand it on its back and have it rest upright.
5. R&F Handmade Paints Heat Gun
This heat gun is designed specifically for fusing encaustic artworks and incorporates settings you can control while working to manipulate pigments with ease and precision. Quick to heat up, it offers high and low fan speeds you can switch between with a quick flip of the thumb, as well as adjustable temperatures between 250⁰ and 1,100⁰ Fahrenheit. You get great coverage with this powerful tool, but R&F also sells very handy nozzles you can attach for more focused or even distribution of air.