What is Encaustic Paint?
Encaustic paint is made up of pigment, resin, and wax. To paint with it, you melt the wax to around 160° F – 200° F (I use an electric griddle) and then use a brush to get it onto the painting before it hardens again. Most encaustic paintings are made of many very thin layers of sheer color that are fused together using something like a propane torch or iron (among other tools).
Will My Painting Melt?
No, your painting won’t melt in your house! Like all fine art, you don’t want to hang your painting in direct sun. Bright, indirect light is fine.
Since wax begins to melt at around 150° F, it most likely will never get hot enough in your house to melt it. If it does, you have other problems to deal with!
Transporting Encaustic Paintings
If you have to transport your encaustic paintings, make sure they are in a climate-controlled area. They’ll be safest between about 35° F and 120° F. Any colder and they can crack, chip, or even shatter. Any warmer and they can start to soften, smudge, or melt. Make sure they are packed well and cushioned so that the wax won't chip or break as they're moved.
Cleaning and Polishing Encaustic Paintings
Paintings can get dusty. If you need to dust your piece, use a feather duster or something else soft and gentle to brush off any particles.
Encaustic can also sometimes develop a bit of a haze over its surface (called "bloom") as moisture is released from the wax. To return it to its original shine, just take a super soft rag (an old t-shirt is great for this) and gently rub the surface of the painting until it looks like new.
If your painting has a lot of delicate texture, don't rub it. Just use a duster or something gentle and soft to carefully give it a little buffing on the very surface of the painting.
Framing Your Encaustic Paintings
A lot of people love hanging encaustic pieces with the raw edges showing. That's what I always do! If you prefer framing, I suggest taking the painting to your local framing expert. They can help you choose the right frame for your piece.
Avoid a frame that covers the edges of the face of the painting. The frame will end up marring the wax and you'll end up with scratches or even gouges. Encaustic and mixed media paintings look great in a floating frame, and that's what I generally recommend if you really want a frame.
If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please email me at info[at]angeliquestewart.com.