A man is buffing a turquoise and red encaustic painting.

How to Care for Encaustic Paintings

About encaustic
Encaustic paintings are made with beeswax, damar resin (a natural tree sap that acts as a hardening agent), and pigment. Each artwork is painted in layers, fusing each layer with heat. 

Encaustic painting has a long history, dating back to the 5th Century B.C.E. in Hellenistic Egypt. The word encaustic means to burn in, which refers to the process of fusing the paint. Beeswax is impervious to moisture, it will not deteriorate, it will not yellow or darken. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass.

How to care for your encaustic artwork:
Treat an encaustic painting as you would any fine art. Use care hanging, transporting or storing a painting.

  1. Consistent Temperature – Hang and store at normal room temperatures. Avoid freezing and extremely hot temperatures; wax will melt at 150°F / 65°C. It’s drastic temperature fluctuations that do the most damage to encaustic paintings.
  2. Avoid Direct Sunlight – Keep all artwork, even those not made with encaustic, out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause fading of some of the paint colours and bleach papers. 
  3. Transporting a painting – When packing encaustic art for transportation, cover the face of the painting with parchment paper. Do not use bubble wrap as it may leave an imprint on the surface. Use foam, such as hardwood floor underlayment, for wrapping. For shipping, build a box the right size for the painting.
  4. Framing – Encaustic does not need to be protected by glass. A floater frame is an attractive option that also protects the edges of the painting from scratches, dents and chips. Works on paper may be framed under glass; ensure the glass is not in contact with the artwork.
  5. Curing – During the first 6-12 months, as the wax cures, an encaustic painting may develop bloom. Bloom is a naturally occurring hazy white residue. It may also occur if a painting is exposed to cold or if it’s kept in a consistently dark place. Bloom can easily be removed by buffing the surface of the painting. Encaustic paintings can be buffed to a high gloss using a soft, lint-free cloth, or pantyhose. If the original sheen has become dull over time, it can be brought back by repeating the buffing process.

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