MAKING ENCAUSTIC MEDIUM
Encaustic is a medium which consists of molten beeswax, damar resin, and pigments that are fused after application into a continuous layer and fixed to a support (wood) with heat. This achieves a lustrous enamel appearance.
Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which damar resin and pigments are added to produce the colours.
My husband John is a Scientist, and he cleans the raw wax that we buy direct from local bee keepers. The photos below show John cleaning the raw beeswax by melting it at a safe temperature, then adding citric acid in boiling water with citric acid added. After it is cleaned, it is then strained through muslin and then put into tins to set. I then make the medium by re-melting the beeswax and adding crushed damar crystals, then strain again and pour into muffin tins ready to be used in my work either as a clear medium, or with pigment added to make beautiful colours.
Encaustic painting is one of the oldest art forms. The earliest applications of encaustic wax paint was done by the artists of Ancient Greece. The word encaustic originates from the Greek work enkaustikos, which means to burn in, and this process is necessary for a painting to be called encaustic. The Egyptians began to adapt to the use of wax paint. This technique was used in the Fayum mummy portraits in Egypt around 100-300 AD. The oldest surviving encaustic panel paintings are the Romano-Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits from the 1st Century BC. Despite being over 2000 years old, they are still on display in museums today withstanding the test of time with minimal cracking and without having faded or darkened in colour.
Encaustic paintings can be polished to a high gloss, molded, sculpted, textured and combined with collage materials. It is also the most durable of artist's paint and an excellent investment. This is due to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture. Because of this it will not deteriorate, it will not yellow, and it will not darken.
Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass. If your painting looks dull, or gets dirty it can be wiped clean with a soft cloth dampened with water and buffed to a high shine.
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