Firstly, I would like to thank those who acquire my artworks recently or previously, large or small. All my artworks are like precious loved ones or gems. My love, soul, feeling, ideas, thoughts, concepts, and our living era are encapsulated in the creations.
When seeing the artworks off (shipping them out), I feel missing them, but I’m delighted to see the new owners/collectors’ excitement. I am happy to celebrate their new home and enjoy meeting or talking with them each time. It could happen through galleries or directly with me (the artist), in person, or online.
When you or a new collector purchase from me, you or they can ask me questions directly. I usually explain my work and provide information on encaustic and basic care instructions as well as the display option as needed.
Recently, I received emails and messages from those who are interested in encaustic, asking how to care for or store encaustic works. Many people asked if an encaustic work would melt💦 because it contains wax.
So, here are the answers and basic tips for the Proper Care of Encaustic Artwork. (The image samples in this page are from Stars and Desert series.)
Would Wax in the Work Melt in a Hot Day?
No. Not in normal household conditions. The encaustic (wax and resin) will start to soften at about 150°F Fahrenheit (65.5℃). As long as you hang or store the artworks at the normal/comfortable room temperature, you don’t have to worry.
Avoid extremely hot or freezing temperatures.
The melting point of encaustic medium is 155ºF (68.33℃). When creating works, the encaustic paints won’t melt unless the temperature increases to around 200ºF (93℃). Encaustic art should be kept between 35-120ºF (1.7-48.9℃).
👉Important Note: Do not leave an art inside a car on a hot day. Not even for a short time.
We hear the sad news that children or elderly people, who were left in a car, died on a hot day while a driver (family member or caregiver) was away from the car to run an errand. A similar thing may happen to your valuable art. The temperature in a car can increase rapidly in a short time in summer or hot days. Even if the wax wouldn’t melt, high heat would damage any artwork. Be aware of temperature extremes during transport.
“Stars to Give Light – Genesis 1:16, 17” (Left) and “What Is Unseen Is Eternal -2 Corinthians 4:16, 18” (Right), Misako Oba, Encaustic Mixed Media on wood panels with white wooden floater frames. (Sold)
Golden Rule for Hanging Art
Hang/Keep Them From Direct Sunlight
It is considered encaustic/beeswax will not deteriorate. However, exposure to direct sunlight/UV (ultraviolet) will still 1) advance deterioration, 2) cause colors to fade, and 3) weaken the binding of the medium for any art. Especially if the encaustic artwork contains other mediums, such as ink, watercolors, and/or collage element. That applies to my art, too.
I don’t know about other mixed media artists since many artists use toner-based or dye-ink prints from a home printer for image-transfer or collage, and non-acid-free materials, which are less archival. I have seen the prints and photographs with those inks that faded over time, over a few years, or a decade. Covering those non-lightfast-inks with encaustic may help keep the fresh color, but not guaranteed. So, I use archival pigment inks from a photographic printer for the text in my art and acid-free materials even for collage as much as possible. I care about the archival quality for its longevity of art. Yep, I have professional (both fine art and editorial) photographer background :).
In any case, this is the basic and golden rule.
■ Avoiding direct sunlight is the best when you hang or store.
What’s More? Where to Avoid Hanging Art
Beeswax is impervious to moisture. However, the substrates of encaustic art are often wood panels. So, wood warping may occur with humidity. Therefore:
■ Do not hang or place it in a bathroom.
■ Avoid in areas of high humidity or near any heat source such as a heater, iron, or other home appliances that generate heat.
When You Transport Art
When packing encaustic art for transportation, cover the surface of the painting with wax paper or parchment paper (or Glassine paper is good. But just regular wax paper from a kitchen does the job). Then, wrap with a soft foam sheet, soft paper, soft cloth, or even wax paper for shorter transports.
Then, bubble wrap. When wrapping with bubble wrap, the protruding air cap side should not be intact with the artwork, especially on the front of the art as it may leave an imprint on the surface. (Do NOT use bubble wrap directly on the front of the painting).
If shipping a large piece, then use double boxes (inner and outer box) or build a crate to protect the art, depending on the size of the painting.
Encaustic does not need to be protected by glass. Encaustic work on cradled wood panel is read to hang and dose not need to be framed. But, it may sometimes crack or the edges may chip off, depending on how you handle the artwork or how an artist finishes the edge or surface. (It is essential for artists to fuse each layer.)
A floater frame that I use has a role to protect the edges of the encaustic painting from chipping. Works on paper may be framed under glass. If you do your own framing, then ensure the glass is not in contact with the artwork. You can use a mat or make it float in a shadow box frame and so forth. (Consult your framer.) For my artwork, I would be happy to discuss the framing options.
When You Store Art
Some people rotate their art to display at home or office to decorate spaces to feel refreshed. (I do, too). Some of your artworks may sometimes go in a closet or storage until the next time on the wall.
When you receive artwork from me, I insert an acid-free Glassine sheet on the surface of encaustic or most other artworks, too. Save this sheet! You can use it when you store the art. Or you can purchase it from an art supply store. I sometimes use acid-free tracing paper for original prints, works on paper, or encaustic works to protect the surface. Those acid-free sheets work.
Do not use wax paper or parchment paper for long-time storage as they are not acid-free. However, they work fine during transport. For long-time storage, I encourage you to use acid-free sheets and conservation boxes. Keep it in a dry cool place between the temperature described previously.
👉 Pay attention to the temperature if you store art in your attic!
When my artworks are in an attic and I was traveling and not able to return for the entire summer, my friend warned me my encaustic works may be at risk! I was freaked out. Summer in Seattle is usually not hot, and we don’t even need A/C. But, that year was different. Fortunately, the attic in the house was shaded by trees. So, it ended up alright. But, I researched the conditions about the safe temperature at that time.
Attics can reach temperatures of 150 to 160 degrees ºF (65.5-71.1℃) during a summer day, while outside air temperatures are only 95 to 97 ºF (35-36℃), 146 ºF (63.3℃) when outside is 88 to 93 ºF (31-33.9 ℃). It is surprising.
The temperatures go up as high as 150 ºF (65.5℃) in poorly ventilated attics, which endangers encaustic work. But, well-ventilated attics usually stay at a maximum of around 110-120 ºF (43.3-48.9℃), which is still hot but barely alright to keep encaustic from melting.
You can store your art in cooler areas of your house where you sometimes use A/C or in cooler storage.
How to take Care of Encaustic Art When You See ‘Bloom’
The wax cures and hardens for up to one to three years after the artwork is completed. Especially during the first 6 to 12 months, encaustic may develop bloom, become little hazy white surface, that is naturally occurring. Some people like this mat surface. But, if you would like to remove the cloudiness, wipe or rub the surface to a gloss with a lint-free soft cloth. Or nylon stocking works well.
Avoid rubbing text and textured area. If you do, do it very gently. Mainly just do on the flat wax surface that you see the bloom.
You can repeat the buffing process. Over time the surface retains its gloss. If you are not sure, do not hesitate to the artist.
Using White Gloves is Recommended
Make sure that you clean your hands before handling any original art. Generally, whenever possible, I recommend using white cotton gloves when handling artworks.
Compared with photographic prints or fine art prints, encaustic art wouldn’t get damaged when handled with bare hands. So, you can be more relaxed handling. Especially for the light color artworks or white color frames.
(The fingerprints or oil from your hand will damage works on paper or prints, such as photographs, and it causes the color change over time from the touched area.)
Is Encaustic Work Archival?
Yes, the encaustic paintings are very archival: I use encaustic that is made of natural beeswax, damar resin, and pigment, which are the most common ingredients. Some encaustic paints are from my own making from those ingredients, others from the companies that make encaustic paints with those materials.
As I posted previously, encaustic is an ancient medium, dating back to around 5th century B.C. Ancient Greeks used wax and resin to caulk the joints for their ships because of the waterproof. It is durable and it seals and preserves the materials. The old Egyptian mummy portraits painted with encaustic around the first century, are still survived, and can be seen in museums. *1
“Painting of this nature, applied to vessels, will never spoil from the action of the sun, winds, or salt water.” *2
So, it can endure thousands of years✨
However, like any fine artworks, proper care should be given to them.
I hope the care instructions help!😊
*1 (I originally learned from books and a workshop at R&F Paints in New York when I started to use encaustic many years ago).
*2 [Source ]
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