One of the things I am still fine-tuning is what surface I like to work on and how I work on them. Right now I am still good with the cradled birch board and since my pieces are quite colorful, I do not even treat the board. I just start on plain ole wood.
I realized right away that wax is messy. Good thing I like messy! In hindsight, I would have treated the sides of my boards prior to my first class but I had no idea how good they would turn out or how much I would like working in with encaustics.
When working on board I paint the edges black. This allows me to hang it on the wall with a neat finish and not having to frame it. I framed quite a few pieces and like that as well (floating frames) but it is much easier and streamlined when I can just hang a piece without all the extra hardware. I use any kind of Acrylic or Oil paint to do the trick, after all, I am not concerned about the wax sticking to it.
The other thing I experimented with and now use for all my cradled pieces is tape the sides. I started with the blue painters tape and worked my way to athletic tape.. ok.. I just used what I had lying around the house.. duct tape even worked. The point is, I am messy and at least the tape helps with containing the wax to the top of the board with a nice black finish on the sides.
This is not to say my method won’t change in the future but that is where I stand today.