top of page

History and care of encaustics

Encaustic is an ancient technique; the word is derived from Greek enkaustikos: enkaiein to burn in and kaiein to burn.
A medium made of melted beeswax, resin and pigment is applied to a rigid substrate most often wood, the layers are fused with heat after application.
The oldest surviving encaustic examples are the Fayum funeral portraits which were painted in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt.

Care of Encaustics

Wax does not absorb moisture, is a natural adhesive and preservative, because of this it will not deteriorate, yellow or darken. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass.
You may see "blooming" (a clouding of the wax) as it can take up to a year for the beeswax to cure. When the painting is at room temperature use a 100% lint free cotton cloth lightly to bring a sheen to the image, being careful of textured surfaces.


Treat your encaustic painting in a similar manner to an oil painting. Do not hang your encaustic painting in direct sunlight, above or too close to a fireplace or heat source. While transporting an encaustic painting, do not leave it in a sealed vehicle as drastic heat will cause it to melt and drastic cold can cause it to crack and separate from the panel.
Always protect the surface and edges of the encaustic painting when moving it. Although the surface is completely dry, encaustic paintings can be scratched, gouged, or chipped if handled roughly.
bottom of page