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About Encaustic

Encaustic is a wax based paint composed of beeswax, resin.  It is applied in a molten state to an absorbent surface and reheated to fuse the paint, a process deriving its name from the Greek word "enkaiein," meaning to burn in.   It's important to note that although they come from the same root word, ‘encaustic’ should not be confused with ‘caustic’, which refers to a corrosive chemical reaction.  There is no such hazard with encaustic.


Wax is its own varnish

Beeswax, a primary component of encaustic paint, acts as its own varnish, eliminating the need for additional varnishing or glass protection commonly required for other mediums. Its resistance to moisture surpasses that of resin varnish or oil, safeguarding against one of the primary causes of paint film deterioration.  Buffing encaustic will give luster and saturation to color in the same way varnish does to other media.  


Care Instructions for Encaustic Art

Encaustic is a medium that has been around for about 2000 years. It dates as far back as the 5th century B.C. and is therefore a time-honored method of art.  Encaustic paintings are known for their rich colors and unique textures.  Encaustic isn’t made with wax alone. It’s beeswax that’s been blended with damar resin to add hardness and elevate the overall melting temperature. This makes encaustic medium very stable and durable. It is extremely archival, but as with any fine art, care should be given them to maintain their beauty and integrity over time.


Here are some tips on how you can care for your encaustic paintings.

Encaustic paintings do best in stable temperatures 40-125 degrees F.  There should be no fear of them melting in normal household conditions.  Do not subject paintings to extreme temperatures; do not leave in a hot car, outside in the direct sun or subject it to extreme cold.  


During the first 6-12 months, as the wax cures, an encaustic painting may develop a “bloom”.  Bloom is a naturally occurring hazy white residue. It may also occur if a painting is exposed to cold. Bloom can easily be removed by buffing the surface of the painting.

Encaustic paintings can be buffed to a high gloss using a soft, dry, lint-free, cotton cloth, or the clean palm of your hand. If the original sheen has become dull over time, it can be brought back by repeating the buffing process.

Displaying Your Artwork

When displaying your encaustic artwork, do not expose it to direct sunlight.  If you put any fine art in direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time it will be damaged and encaustic is no different.  Some pigments can fade over time when exposed to harsh sunlight and temperature fluctuations can also be more extreme when hung in direct prolonged sunlight.  


Handle encaustic artwork with care to prevent scratching or denting the surface. Use clean, dry hands or cotton gloves when handling the artwork to avoid transferring oils or dirt onto the surface.  Avoid touching the surface of the artwork whenever possible, like fingerprints on glass, fingerprints can leave marks on the wax.



Once an encaustic painting has fully cured and hardened it will naturally repel dust.  If it is subject to a large amount of dust or debris, make sure to blow away any large particles and dust that could scratch the painting, then buff with a soft, dry, lint-free cotton cloth (a piece of an old t-shirt works great).  Never use a paper towel as it can scratch the painting.  Avoid using any liquid cleaners on encaustic artwork, as this can damage the wax.



A fundamental rule for the safe-keeping of most fine art, it’s recommended that you store encaustic artwork in a clean, dry environment, at normal room temperatures, avoiding extremely hot and very cold temperatures and away from sources of heat, moisture, and direct sunlight.  Encaustic paint will not yellow or darken. However, the wax itself is photo-reactive, so un-pigmented encaustic medium that has been kept in dark storage will darken slightly. When re-exposed to light that darkening will bleach out.



When transporting encaustic artwork, take extra precautions to protect it from damage. Wrap the artwork securely in parchment or glassine paper, wrap with several layers of bubble wrap, and place it in a sturdy box or crate to prevent it from shifting during transit.  Don’t put bubble wrap directly on the surface of the painting as it may leave ‘bubble’ marks. 


Professional Care:

If your encaustic artwork becomes damaged or requires restoration, seek assistance from me, a professional conservator or encaustic artist with experience in repairing and preserving encaustic artwork.  


By following these care instructions, you can help ensure that your encaustic artwork remains beautiful and vibrant for years to come.

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