What is Encaustic Paint?
Encaustic is a painting method where color-pigmented beeswax is melted, applied to a surface and reheated to fuse the paint into a smooth or textured finish. The word encaustic comes from Greek word enkaustikos and means 'to burn in', which refers to the process of fusing the paint. Encaustic has a long history, but it has been experiencing a recent resurgence in popularity due to the increased convenience and safety of heating appliances. The surface can be polished to a high gloss, it can be modeled, sculpted, textured, and combined with collage materials. It cools immediately, so that there is no drying time, yet it can always be reworked. The durability of encaustic is due to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture. Because of this it will not deteriorate. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass.
How to Care for Your Encaustic Painting:
After completion of an encaustic painting there is a curing process of a few months. During this time moisture will work its way to the surface and cause a slight haze (this is called bloom). When the sheen dulls or looks dusty, it can be buffed (gently, firmly but not overly vigorous) to a high gloss using a soft lint-free cloth (similar to polishing or dusting furniture). The sheen dulls over time and can be brought back by repeating the process. Although the surface is completely dry, encaustic paintings can be easily scratched, gouged, or chipped if handled roughly. No fingernails please! Protect all encaustic from extreme heat (above 140 F) and freezing.