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Encaustic Art – Artworks and Paintings with Beeswax

Encaustic art is a traditional art that uses beeswax and resin as the medium where the pigments are mixed. This art requires special materials like absorbing and rigid surface, natural hair bristles, hot plates and heat guns. Encaustic tiles are ceramic tiles that bears colored patterns not by glaze.

Encaustic ArtPHOTO BY FLICKR.COM/PHIL MANKER

Encaustic Art - A Traditional Art with Beeswax

One of the oldest art forms of Greeks and Romans is the encaustic art. This art form regained its popularity since 1990s. Originally hot bees wax was used wherein the desired pigments are added to prepare the encaustic mixture and hence the other name hot wax painting. Though bees wax is the classic medium, pigmented wax blocks are also used. Encaustic art on prepared wood surface serves its best for a classic look and to bring out the sheen of the pigmented wax compared to other surfaces. Canvas surface is also used nowadays. The main advantage of encaustics is that it can be used for both painting and sculpturing. Painting, when the wax is hot in the liquid form and sculpturing when the same gets dried up.

Encaustic Painting - Requires Special Paraphernalia

A mixture made of beeswax, pigment and damar resin is mainly needed for encaustic painting. Beeswax acts both as a preservative and a sealant and damar resin acts as a hardening agent. This mixture is first heated on a hot plate or even a pancake griddle to bring it to the liquid form. More of the medium (beeswax and resin) is added to the pigment to make it translucent. This mixture has to be used on an absorbing and rigid surface as the wax may crack or peel off later. Natural hair bristles are used for its durability and palette knives, dental tools are used for spreading the wax. The major tool for encaustic painting, propane or butane torches, tacking irons or heat guns is used for binding the wax layers on to the surface.

Encaustic Tile - Bears Colored Patterns

Ceramic tile that bears differently colored patterns on its surface are referred as encaustic tile. The colored patterns are by the different colors of clay and not by glaze. Usually two colors are used for the patterns, but some of the tiles from the medieval period have even used six colors for the pattern. Cement tiles are mostly referred to encaustic tiles, which is a general misconception. The inlay of these tiles in the medieval period may be quarter inch deep or may be eighth of an inch shallow. These tiles are mostly produced to be laid in churches, the ones that used in houses replicates the designs of the patterns that is seen in churches.

Written by Dennis Patterson

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