Encaustic paintings are a blend of beeswax, damar (tree resin) and archival oil pigments or pastels. The medium, as it is called, is melted, mixed and applied with a brush from a heated palette.
Once applied to the working surface, the medium can be further manipulated by dripping, incising, scraping, embedding, torching and building surface texture with additional medium and/or pigment layer by layer and fusing it together with a heat gun or torch.
One of the oldest painting methods known, encaustics have been dated to as early as the fourth century B.C., developed by the ancient Greek shipbuilders to fill cracks in their ships. Examples from A.D. 100-125 survive today in the form of portraits set into mummy casings in Greco-Roman Egypt designed to transport the deceased to a spiritual afterlife.
The ideal temperature range for these paintings is approximately 40-110°F (4-44°C). The beeswax will begin to melt at approximately 165° so placement and storage in indirect sunlight and never below freezing is best. It is recommended that an occasional light buffing with a soft cloth, old nylon or palm of the hand will bring the natural luster back to the piece if it dulls. These pieces should never be covered in glass and will bring lasting beauty and enjoyment for years to come.
Framing is strongly suggested for some pieces, not only for the sense of esthetics, but also for protection from scratches. A simple “floater” frame seems to best suit the medium and works well with any style of decor, but of course this is totally up to one’s individual taste and preferences.