“ The last few years I've found myself seeking to expand the boundaries of photographic Vision in a new and soulful way; A way that transcends the confines of glass, mat, and frame...while adding depth and transluscence in an imperfect, unpredictable way. Fortunately, I discovered these characteristics fully embraced by a centuries old archival technique utilizing a combination of tree resin and beeswax- an organic artistic medium known as Encaustic Wax. ” - Robert Medina Cook
What is Encaustic?Encaustic, derived from a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos), is an organic mixture of natural beeswax and damar (tree) resin. The basic technique of encaustic is to melt the mixture, apply it, and then fuse (or re-heat) the surface to bond each layer. Encaustic medium can be used alone for its transparency, or traditional artist pigments can also be added to enhance the opacity and color. One of the most beautiful of all artists’ mediums because of the way in which the wax captures and reflects light, encaustic is impervious to moisture and one of the most durable artists’ mediums. Resin is added to the organic beeswax to raise the melting temperature of the wax and to give it hardness. This makes it more durable and able to take a high polish, creating a rich, almost mystical surface that provides the illusion of a three dimensional piece. Often called an introspective art form, the difficulty of the technique, and the unpredictable nature of the hot wax, often produce many happy accidents. The end result is the creation of a truly one-of-a-kind collectible artwork...where each piece has its own unique characteristics and identity...and guarantees no two are ever alike.
The ProcessOnce an image is created and prepared for mounting, a cradled wooden substrate is handcrafted and archivally prepared to accomodate the print. Next, the fine art image, printed on museum quality 100% cotton rag paper, is glued to the substrate with an archival glue, then edges trimmed and sanded. After the image has adhered overnight, the substrate is prepared to accept the medium. The hot encaustic wax is then applied using various brushes and tools, and after cooling, is hand scraped, fused, and allowed to cure. Once cured, the image is given a final cleanup. It is signed, labeled with the Image title, and given a number to provide provenance for collecting purposes. A hanging wire is then mounted to the back of the work, and felt bumpers are added to prevent any scratching of walls or surfaces where the work is to be hung.
Maintenance Encaustic works are very durable due to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture. Examples of encaustic paintings have survived from the Greek and Roman empires and are still as vibrant and colorful today as they were when they were painted. As with any work of fine art, encaustic works should be protected from extreme temperatures and conditions. They should not be hung in direct sunlight or over a source of intense heat such as a fireplace.
Extra care should be taken to protect an encaustic work from scratches, dings and excess heat or cold during the first several months after completion because encaustic cures and hardens over a period of several months. The surface of an encaustic work may be gently dusted and buffed to bring back its natural luster and shine. First check to be sure the surface is free of heavy amounts of dust or grit or anything which would mar the surface when rubbed. If it is very dusty, clean the surface with a very soft brush, cloth or damp cloth before buffing. Once the surface is clean, it can be buffed to a shine using a smooth, soft, lint-free, cotton cloth or nylon stocking using a gentle circular motion.
Encaustic often develops a film on the surface as the wax cures. This natural process is called "bloom" and may present some slight resistance in the beginning of the buffing process. Be very gentle at first and check the cloth to be sure it is not picking up pigment or color. Once the cloth is moving freely, you can increase pressure slightly to bring out the shine. Many collectors prefer the matte effect that blooming offers. The beauty of encaustic is that the choice...is entirely yours.