I love encaustic, though sometimes it gives me a hard time as any serious relationship might. “She” is delicate and fickle. I have to deal with her between a temperature of 165°F and 220°F (74℃ – 104.5℃). It depends on how I want the texture. Smooth/ watery or rough/ sticky. It starts to melt around 162°F. Some colors are easy to melt, others require higher temperatures. You should take care not to overheat. It is said that up to 220°F is SAFE. As I work, I keep my eyes on the thermometer on my heating palette to not exceed this temperature. Otherwise, she gets toxic! The fumes can harm you. It is important to stick to safety measures including proper ventilation. Be careful not to burn your skin with the equipment that includes a heating pallette and heat gun…etc.
Also, “Temperatures over 250°F will weaken and discolor the wax, cause pigments to separate, and gum up the damar.” *
In my previous blog, I mentioned about the encaustic paints that I use, that are known especially on the East Coast. I am currently visiting Seattle and found Northwest Encaustic has introduced their first line of encaustic paint and medium…paint made by encaustic artists for artists. They are available at a local art supply store and at their studio, but not available online for purchase yet. The founder of NW Encaustic, Shaun Doll, said it will be available in the near future on their website. I enjoyed visiting the studio of NW Encaustic.
<History of encaustic>
Although the word encaustic sounds new to many people, it is actually an ancient medium. It was used in ancient Greece for coating sculpture or for caulking the joints for ships or to paint portraits in Egyptian tombs around the first century B.C…etc.
If you are interested, you can read a brief history in the following books:
Also, R&F Handmade Paints in upstate New York offers workshops on the use of encaustics that include lectures, touching on its history.
The next time you hear the word or see artworks created using encaustics, you may feel different.
With this ancient medium encaustic, I have been creating my mixed media such as “Truth in Emotion: Beyond Time and Space” (on-going project) in a contemporary setting using both traditional and modern technique. I will talk about this series some other time.