Encaustic-Wax Information with Artist Jacki Archibald
Encaustic is one of the oldest painting techniques, dating back to the 4th Century BC.
The technique was used in the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt and in early icons. Encaustic Wax also harkens back to the days of Trojan ships when they would coat the exterior of their ships with encaustic paintings in order to not only decorate their transportation, but to seal the ship against the harsh sea elements.
This art form has seen a resurgence in recent years with the influence of 20th century American artists including Jasper Johns and the desire of artists’ and craftsperson’s worldwide to explore versatility and mixed media potential in their artwork.
Encaustic is both a paint medium and a technique; the medium is a wax based paint originally consisting of beeswax, damar resin and colour pigment. The technique involves heating the wax to a melted state and applying it to a support, ensuring the layers are fused with heat. The paint is manipulated with metal or heated tools, such as irons, hot air guns, and metal spatulas and brushes.
Care & Cleaning:
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. Over time, due to the resin added to the wax, encaustic cures and the surface hardens. Under normal temperatures, the painting will remain stable.
Like all fine art, it is best not to expose it to direct sunlight or excessive heat, avoid temperatures below 1.7 degrees Celsius or above 48 degrees. It is not wise to leave it in your car for any length of time, especially on either a hot or cold day.
Don’t be afraid to touch the surface when it is cooled down as it is completely dry but encaustic paintings can be scratched, gouged, or chipped if handled roughly and should be treated carefully with edges protected.
As the wax cures, an encaustic painting may develop a film on the surface. This is a natural process called bloom and is easily removed, along with shallow scratches, by wiping the surface with a soft lint free cloth to maintain the unique patina of the wax.