Encaustic is a wax based medium with a history dating back to the 5th century BCE Greece where pigmented wax was described by Homer to have decorated the warships that fought at Troy. Seven hundred years later, with the eventual merging of Greek and Egyptian cultures after Alexander’s expanse into the east, the famous funerary Fayum portraits were created to adorn the faces of mummified bodies before burial.
The word encaustic is derived from the greek encaustikos meaning to ‘burn in’. Each layer of wax must be fused to the previous layer with a heat source such as heat guns, heat lamps, or torches. Encaustics are most stable in temperatures ranging from 40-110 degrees F. and should not be hung in direct sunlight or behind glass. Encaustics are impervious to moisture and will not yellow, deteriorate, or darken. Wax applications are translucent and transparent conducting light and revealing layers of imagery.