Ok, well, it smells because it is encaustic. Encaustics, for those of you who may not have seen or worked with them before, are essentially a mixture of beeswax and oil paint, which are sometimes mixed with a resin. This mixture is then melted and applied to a surface. I mix my own encaustics and love painting with them. However, while I am working with them they do tend to get odoriferous. I am sure there are things in the paint that I should not be inhaling, so I open the windows in my studio space nice and wide. My hubby (who wants me to stop calling him that, by the way) always complains and leaves the house when I am working with them.
I used to mix my encaustics and then melt them directly on the canvas or surface using a heat tool. I sometimes still do this, but recently I found a groovy buffet warmer from the 70's. It is all ripply glass and danish modern handles and I LOVE IT. It doesn't get terribly hot, and I can put my pans of encaustic on it to melt without them getting to too high a temperature. Because the surface is glass, any drips I might make clean right off when the warmer cools down. I still use the hot tool for detail work, but I am getting burned a lot less now.
Note: The little pile of Buddha heads in the corner is a trick that I use to get my wax to melt faster for the pans. I pre-melt a pan of beeswax, and then pour it into a silicone mold of a Buddha that I made a few years ago. That way I have small bits of wax that melt fast without having to saw them off the block with a knife.
Encaustics are stinky when you are working with them, but smell like delicious beeswax/honey when they are done. I am all about integrating all 5 senses into my art, and this is just such an added bonus.
And oh yeah, that little guy you see on my encaustic bench is for newly for sale on Etsy...or will be shortly.