About encaustic art

Encaustic art is made with layers of wax. The wax is made from a mixture of pure beeswax and damar resin (sap from fir trees). This can be left clear to add transparent layers, or you can add paint pigments to make coloured wax for painting. Each layer is fused with heat. I use a combination of a heat gun and blow torch. You need a well-ventilated room to work in and wax does get everywhere!! It is a very creative process allowing for much trial and error. The beauty of this medium is that you can undo mistakes to some extent by reheating but it is very easy to overwork things…

Each layer is fused with heat to the layer beneath it and works can have many layers. The damar resin provides hardness while the wax provides luminosity. Encaustic paintings can last for thousands of years. Evidence of this can be seen by the Faiyum mummy portraits that are over 2500 years old. Excavation of ancient encaustic painting has shown no cracking, flaking, or fading due to resistance to moisture, acid, and moulds.


What kinds of things can you make?

Clear encaustic medium is used for encaustic photography and mixed media collage and sculpture. I have used it for a series of photographs to give an aged oil painting effect and on Japanese washi paper to give solidity and translucency to origami paper forms.

You can paint with pigmented encaustic medium onto wooden cradles or boards which provide the rigidity you need for this kind of work. I have also been experimenting with adding the medium to paper collages and using transfers under layers of wax. You can also paint with the medium onto a heated plate (I use an old fashioned food warmer) and make original monotype prints.

Working with heated wax can be very experimental and adventurous. Each piece is unique and reflects the unpredictable nature of combining wax, heat guns and gas burners.