I am often asked about my process and the materials I use. Below is a list of materials that I commonly use as well as a description of my painting process and care instructions. Creating in an environmentally safe and sustainable way is very important to me. I use earth friendly materials and rescue and reuse a lot of my materials.
Birch Wood Panels, Vintage letters, book pages, maps and other paper ephemera, bees wax, damar Resin (crystallized tree sap), natural earth pigments, 23K gold, gold gilding paint , thread, paper, metal and glass beads.
Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax medium to fusing the layers of wax. Encaustic medium consists of natural bees wax and damar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or used pigmented.
I begin with a cradled birch wood panel. I then glue a variety of vintage paper ephemera to the surface using archival book binder’s glue. I then begin applying layers of hot wax with a brush. Each layer is then reheated with a torch to fuse it to the previous layer. I apply 8-10 layers of wax, enough to obscure the paper background but not completely block it out.
After I complete the background I transfer an image, either an original photograph or illustration to the top layer of wax. I then use a variety of materials, 23k gold, thread, paper, etc. to add accents to the painting. I finish the artwork by painting the sides of the wood panel with black acrylic paint.
These paintings are extremely archival, but as with any fine art, care should be given to them. There should be no fear of the work melting in normal household conditions. The wax and resin will not melt unless exposed to temperatures over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving a painting in a car on a hot day would not be advisable or hanging a painting in front of a window with direct desert-like sun. They are also sensitive to freezing cold temperatures.
Always protect the surface and edges of the encaustic painting when moving. Although the surface is completely dry, encaustic paintings can be scratched, gouged, or chipped if handled roughly. When being handled, special care is advised to the edges and corners. Fortunately encaustic is very repairable and can usually be easily repaired if damaged.
Installation of an encaustic painting is no different than any other valued piece of art. It is not necessary to put your encaustic artwork under glass as glass may stick to the surface. If you would like to frame your artwork I would suggest a float frame.
Encaustic paintings are extremely durable 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. Examples of encaustic paintings have survived from the Greek and Roman empires and are still as vibrant and colorful today as they were when they were painted.
Encaustic paint will continue to cure and harden after completion; in this process the surface may lose some of its original luster and sheen. The finish can be easily restored by gently buffing the surface with a soft lint free cotton cloth.
If you have any question or need your painting repaired in any way please feel free to contact me.