About Encaustic

What is Encaustic?

Hot wax!  Encaustic art is the process of creating images and sculptures using heated encaustic medium (a mixture of beeswax and damar resin). Heat is used throughout the process of creating encaustic art, from the melting of the wax medium to the fusing of the layers of wax to ensure they are fixed to each other and to the substrate.

There are a number of ways of painting with wax, but in general the process involves melting the medium (along with pigment if desired) on a hotplate, painting the medium onto an absorbent substrate (such as plywood panels) with a brush, and fusing the layers together using a heat gun, blow torch or specialist iron.

Encaustic is actually an ancient art form, with the earliest examples found in Egyptian tombs dating to around 100-300 AD. The word “encaustic” comes from the Greek “enkaustikos” which literally means “to burn in” – the Ancient Greeks used wax mixed with pitch or tar to seal the hulls of their boats. Adding pigments to the wax gave rise to the decorating of warships.

Romano-Egyptian Fayan mummy portrait c. 100-300 AD