Encaustic – Shellac

Encaustic - Shellac

Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. Encaustic consists of natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented. Pigments may be added to the medium, or purchased colored with traditional artist pigments. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any tool the artist wishes to create from. Each layer is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer.

Encaustic (shellac-technique):

The encaustic-shellac technique is one of the most popular technique in the encaustic painting. Shellac is extracted from the secretions of the scale insect, the thin platelets are extinguished in alcohol and mixed into a varnish. The picture is painted with Encaustic wax and the shellac comes on the top layer of the picture, then it is processed with a hot air device or with a burner. This is how the different structures and color gradients are created.

MATERIALS: Encaustic wax on a wooden painting board.

Paintings made with encaustic wax are very long-lasting. Beeswax and resin are impermeable , which makes them extremely durable. Don’t frame the encaustic under glass, it isn’t necessary and also the beauty and play of light of the painting is lost. If you want to frame your picture, use a frame that protects the edges like the drawer type because the edges are very fragile.

Never use a frame with glass, it is not necessary and even the picture loses its beauty.

Don’t expose the frame to extreme temperatures; don’t leave it in a hot car, outdoors in direct sunlight, or in extremely cold conditions. They are more suitable for stable temperatures between 5 to 40 degrees.

Encaustic paints may “bloom” in the first year during the hardening of the wax, your picture may look cloudy. It is completely normal and can be easily removed by carefully wiping the surface with a soft cloth. I normally use an old silk stocking.