HOTBox™ FAQs & Tips


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Nothing works as well as a tool specifically designed for the job at hand. As a working artist with over 20 years experience with encaustic and encaustic monotype printmaking, I know there is no more useful and versatile hot pallette for encaustic. We have continually improved the Roland Encaustic HOTbox™ while keeping the price as low as possible. All Roland HOTboxes™ are now the Gen 3 style. We appreciate your business and your feedback! 



Where’s the printing press?
NO PRESS IS USED WHEN PRINTING ENCAUSTIC MONOTYPES! The Roland HOTbox™, a low energy source of heat, is used to transfer the encaustic to paper.

What is the HOTbox™ and how does it work?
The HOTbox™ s heated by 4-100 watt incandescent light bulbs. A dimmer adjusts the light and therefore the heat. (This is not a thermostat. Plate temperature also varies with ambient temps in your studio. Watch the light emitted from the bulbs while rotating the dial to become comfortable with what it does. More light = more heat, and vs a vs.) The plate is anodized aluminum which keeps colors from changing or developing a grey-black oxidation in reaction to the metal. Anodizing also allows the plate to be cleaned very easily.

What is the Gen 3 HOTbox™ ?
The new Generation 3 model has a detachable dimmer control dial that is easier to use; an interior heat sensor to prevent overheating; and other safety and convenience improvements. It is the same size, and compatible with older models, and the only model we currently make. HOTbox™ Plate surface temperatures are adjustable and range between room temperature and about 215 F (Gen 3,) and 220F (older models). In cooler studios temps will be lower.

Lightbulbs? YES, BULBS ARE STILL AVAILABLE! Where to find 100 watt incandescent bulbs?: Go to or search on Amazon. The light bulbs are an ingenious solution keeping the wax temperature at safe levels, and drawing a low amount of electricity–only 400 watts vs 1600 for most hotplates and griddles. Read the DIRECTIONS FOR HOTBOX USE, PDF

Does it come with bulbs?  HOTboxes™ are shipped with bulbs as a courtesy. Bulbs usually last a couple of years or much more. The life of a 100 watt bulb is up to 1000 hours and possibly longer than that when dimmed. For printing, the HOTbox™ is dimmed as much 2/3. So purchase a few 100 watt 4-packs and set them aside for the future. Inexpensive bulbs work just as well. You may substitute 95 watt bulbs with little loss of heat. Also, We believe that 100 w bulbs will continue to be available, at least on the internet, since many people do not like the alternative bulbs. 

Why the HOTbox™?

The HOTbox™ is designed to provide the even surface heat needed for Encaustic Monotypes. It may also be used as a heated palette when painting, but not for heating pots of wax! It has many other uses with encaustic, including heated drawing (work on the surface of paper which is heated from beneath by the HOTbox™), collage, impregnating paper and fabric with wax and much more. One may even print on fabric. 

Multiple Roland HOTboxes™ are suitable for workshops and classes and save on energy consumption and the need for additional electric circuits.

  • HOTboxes™ are the same size : 16″ x 22″ x 6.25″
  • The HOTbox™ is modular. To work larger, place two or four HOTboxes™ together and use a larger plate to span the boxes and create a continuous printing surface.
  • Plates come in three sizes corresponding with HOTbox™ configuration: 16″ x 22″ (fits a single HOTbox™); 22″ x 32″ (fits double); and 32″ x 44″ (fits the PRO Set-up of four HOTboxes).
  • Order a Single, Double, or PRO HOTbox™ set-up and you will get the plate as well.
  • Plates may be ordered separately and a HOTbox™ may be ordered without plate.  


Pictured here, PRO HOTbox set up – 4 boxes and 44″ x 32″ anodonized aluminum plate.  Exhaust vent not included
  • A longer, detachable cord, to which the dimmer box housing is attached. This makes the dimmer positionable for convenience, and if the dimmer should ever go out you can unplug it from the front of the HOTbox™ for repair.
  • The dimmer is now calibrated with numbers to help you locate your preferred working temperature.                  
  • There is a replaceable fuse on the dimmer box housing which will protect the dimmer in case you should overload the circuit.
  • The most important new feature is an interior heat sensor that turns off the bulbs if the HOTbox™ becomes too hot inside and turns them back on when the interior of the HOTbox™ is cooler. Working at normal plate surface temperatures (160F-190F printing and 190– 210F painting) will not cause the sensor to shut down. This is a big safety factor that will not impede your practice by becoming too cool, then too hot, as a griddle may do when cycling.
  • Industrial wiring and other safety improvements


We have manufactured the Roland HOTbox™ for over a decade and have not had a safety issue with the equipment. Be sure to follow directions (download the PDF below) and read warranty and liability on the page where orders are placed. Health-wise, encaustic monotype printmaking may be safer than encaustic painting, since you will use much lower temperature when heating the encaustic, and heat less of the encaustic than when painting so there are fewer fumes. While surface temperature of the HOTbox™ plate could reach as high as 220F sustained use on highest setting, the Gen 3 sensor is designed to shut down the bulbs at about 215F and turn them back on automatically when cooler.

What setting/temps are used for Encaustic printmakingPrinting takes place at much lower temps, between 160 and 190F . It is not suggested to print at plate surface temperatures higher that 200F, or do any encaustic work with plate temps above 210F. Use a quick-registering surface thermometer to periodically check temps, which can vary according to:

  • Ambient temp in the room, a fan blowing across the plate, etc
  • Build-up of interior heat over time.

In older model HOTbox™, we suggest that if the box surface plate is hotter than 200F for a few hours, that you slide over the plate and let some heat escape, just as a precaution. This is not necessary with Gen 3 but could extend the life of the unit.

Settings? Set the Gen 3 dial on “6” for 15 minutes, check the surface temp and adjust dial slightly up or down according to needs. 

Can it be used for encaustic painting?  

As a painting palette, mix paint directly on the surface of the plate or turn up the rheostat a little and melt wax in small pans. About 1 1/2 inches of encaustic melts easily with higher heat. The HOTbox™ is not suggested for those wishing to melt larger quantities of encaustic!  Use only 100 watt bulbs (lower wattage is acceptable if it works for you, but never use higher). (Read more about safety below)

How do I clean and size the The The plate; Trouble-shooting the plate…

  1. Simply wipe the plate surface with a cotton cloth, Viva towels, or shop cloths. This may suffice.
  2. Spritz with water and wipe if a cleaner plate is desired.
  3. Cleaner still? Melt a little plain beeswax or wax medium on plate, wipe, and spritz with water/wipe again, or repeatedly as needed to remove all pigment and wax residue. Wax residue on the plate may cause the encaustic to separate or bead up. While some artists find this desirable and utilize this affect in their work, not all do. Occasionally, if you use a lot of beeswax or medium in your work, the plate seems to get permeated by the wax and continues to beads up, even with a good cleaning. To remove residue of wax, try pouring 90-99% Isopropyle alcohol or denatured alcohol, on a warm plate in sections and wipe well as above. Be sure to ventilate the room and do not allow these flammable liquids to get inside of the HOTbox™!

Will the heat ruin my table?

The box has a bottom, is well insulated, and is raised off the table. Only the plate surface is hot to the touch. The table underneath does become slightly warm, so take precaution if needed.

Scratches on the plate?

Small scratches on the plate do not effect the printing process—only very deep gouges. All aluminum scratches easily and it is impossible to purchase aluminum without slight scratches. Bothersome scratches and nicks can be lightly buffed with fine steel wool and edges filed if necessary.  NOTE: If your plate bows slightly simply turn it over, BOTH SIDES ARE ANODIZED.

Clean the exterior?

 If wax gets on the exterior, the box is best cleaned with vegetable oil and a little heat. Some consider a waxy exterior the sign of a deeply dedicated artist. 🙂

How do I keep the plate from sliding?

Use black binder clamps and the special bar attached to the side of the box to hold it in place. The clamps can also hold the paper to the plate if you wish to register a print.


Can’t I make this myself?
This is very doubtful considering our many new convenience and safety features based on twenty years of manufacturing.  If you wouldn’t wire a house, would you attempt to wire a HOTbox™? We know those who have tried, and it took them many hours and trips to the hardware store to end up with a product that is not the same or as efficient or safe. However, it is possible.  If you decide you want to make one, we can provide you with one of our standard size, pre-cut anodized aluminum plates.

Is there an alternative to the HOTbox™?
The HOTbox™ is the best tool for the job and what the serious artist will need. However, if you are not ready for the investment try placing a small anodized aluminum plate on the surface of an electric griddle or inside of and electric skillet to try out the process. (Careful not to burn yourself!) The plate must be in full contact with the heated surface. These appliances will not suffice long for the serious artist. One cannot work maneuver the paper well, or work large because the edges of the plate may interfere with the print. There is also a danger of burning yourself and overheating the wax to a danger level.


How do I get started?
Highly suggested is the instructional DVD, ENCAUSTIC MONOTYPES: Painterly Prints With Heat and Wax, by Paula Roland, available on this site. This 2 1/2 instructional DVD covers most techniques taught in the first two days of her Intro workshops! Download the free PDF for resources/supplies, available to anyone, used in the DVD. It lists papers, thermometers, paint manufacturers and much, much more. Then, Download and read the directions for use of the Roland HOTbox.

Paula Roland DVD Image

Varying the temp and the type of paper will create vastly different effects. Take encaustic in cold form (a block, chunk, crayon-size stick, etc) and draw/apply the colored wax to the plate. Manipulate the image with various tools and materials (try starting with a pencil eraser!). When you are satisfied, lay an absorbent paper on top of the image and lightly press the back with a baren (used in block printing) or a rag. Purchase a pad of calligraphy-type rice paper to get started. Then try other papers, varying the weight and absorbency, finding which ones you like.

What if I need more information about the encaustic processes? It is easy to create a print, but not so easy to get something that satisfies. Many have exclaimed,“This is the most difficult ‘easy’ thing I have ever done!”, or “Paula makes it look so easy!”

We strongly suggest that you take a workshop from Paula, —she’s the expert on encaustic monotypes and offers a wealth of information! She has created large scale prints, print installations, used a wide variety of papers and every technique –in fact she invented most of them, and the curriculum for teaching the process. She can help you trouble-shoot your needs and guide you to make informed choices toward integrating the process in your studio practice. Studying with a professional will save you much time and probably much money in the long run. We can also recommend the following books on encaustic, although they have very limited info on encaustic printmaking.

Fire & Ice, illuminated monotype
PAULA ROLAND, Fire and Ice, eight layered encaustic monotypes with back lighting, 43” x 102”

These books/DVDs feature works by Paula Roland:

Nash, Catherine | Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper and Encaustic, 2013,

Woolf, Daniella | Encaustic With a Textle Sensibility (Waxy Buildup Press, 2010)

Rankin, Lissa | Encaustic: A Guide to Creating Fine Art with Wax. (Watson-Guptil, 2010)

Tala, Alexia | Installations and Experimental Printmaking. (A and C Black Publishers, Ltd, 2009)
Womack, Linda | Embracing Encaustic. (Hive Publishing, 2008)
Mattera, Joanne. | The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax. (Watson-Guptil, 2001)

An excellent website for supplies and technical encaustic information | R&F Handmade Paints,

Evans Encaustics also has excellent paints for encaustic monotypes and offers 24 hour help by phone |

ADDITIONAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS, because you can never be too safe!
Ventilate with an exhaust fan to remove encaustic fumes. Sale of the Roland HOTbox equipment presumes that you know about the concerns regarding use and heating of wax and related materials. Educate yourself, take a basic encaustic course, and read one of the recommended books mentioned above.

Use common sense. Do not leave the HOTbox™, hot plates, griddles or similar appliances on without supervision. Inspect cords regularly and keep them dry. Do not immerse the box in water or put liquid inside. (Don’t even think of it!)

At 250 F wax begins to decompose and smoke. These fumes are harmful. There is absolutely no reason to work at temperatures near or above 210F, the limit for the HotBox™.

PRE GEN 3 MODELS: These do not have a heat sensor. If the HOTBOX™ is on for more than 2 or 3 hours, we suggest that you slide over the plate and let some heat escape, just as a precaution, as this item does not cycle on and off like a griddle or hotplate. This will help the hotbox insulation last longer. It is especially important to cool down the HOtbox™ if it is used at temperatures at or higher than 200F for a few hours.

 READ: More ways to use the HOTbox™

Health and Safety / Encaustic
Directions for HOTbox™ use and Gen 3 features

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