Encaustic painting has been in practice for over 2,000 years, initially used by the ancient Greeks to paint portraits, color marble and decorate ships. It is an extremely versatile medium as it can be polished to a high gloss, carved, scraped, layered, collaged, dipped, cast, modeled, sculpted, textured, and combined with oil. Wax is a natural adhesive and preservative; it is moisture resistant, mildew and fungus resistant, and unappetizing to insects. It also requires no glass or varnish as it is impervious to moisture.
An encaustic is stable in a temperature range of approximately 40-120°F. Wax is more fragile in the cold and becomes extremely brittle in freezing temperatures. The wax will begin to shift at 120°F and is workable at 150°F; it liquifies at 162°F. Very hot days can soften the wax somewhat, but will cause no real damage (dust can adhere to surface).
To care for your encaustic artwork, please read & adhere to the instructions below:
** Treat an encaustic painting as you would any fine art piece. Use care hanging, transporting or storing it, and be especially mindful of corners and edges. Do not drop or knock the painting as this could lead to chips.
** Hang and store at normal room temperatures. Avoid extreme heat or cold, and remember that wax will melt at 150°F / 65°C. Keep the artwork out of direct sunlight.
** If you must transport the painting, first loosely cover the entire wax surface with wax paper, then cardboard, and some form of insulation. When that painting is at room temperature, remove the wax paper and unwrap it. When in hot weather, the wax paper will stick to the painting but will cause no damage as long as it is removed at room temperature.
** Encaustic art does not need to be protected by glass. You may choose to frame the work, but I paint on cradled birch wood so no additional framing is really necessary unless it's your aesthetic preference.
** During the first 6-12 months, as the wax cures and gasses are released, an encaustic painting may develop bloom which is a hazy, white residue. It may also occur if a painting is exposed to cold. This haze can be removed by buffing the surface of the painting. Please use a 100% cotton, lint free cloth.
** If you prefer more sheen, buff the piece as often as you wish, using a steady, circular motion.
** Once an encaustic painting has fully cured and hardened - about 10-12 months - dust and dirt will not attach to the work as easily and the surface will maintain its integrity.