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Project 1

Encaustic Face Sculpture

Creating encaustic surfaces on face sculptures is exciting.  Watching the layers of pigment and wax melt and fuse into one another is mezmerizing.  There is greater artistic freedom with encaustics versus glazed ceramics.  You can see by the first 4 pictures below how a sculpture goes from plain to decorated with many layers of encaustic medium and pigments.

The thumbnails above show the begining steps to making an encaustic finish on a ceramic face sculpture.

  1. A base layer of encaustic medium is fused to the ceramic surface,

  2. Color is added with encaustic paints, pastels, oil sticks or other compatible materials,

  3. Layers are added until the desired decoration is achieved, fusing between each layer,

  4. A final layer of clear encaustic medium is added and the surface is either smoothed or left with texture, depending on the intent of the artist.

Encaustic History and Care

The oldest surviving encaustic panel paintings are the mummy portraits from Egypt, around 100–300 AD.  Encaustic painting was also commonly used in ancient Greek and Roman religious icons. 

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.

  • Consistent Temperature - Hang and store at normal room temperatures. Avoid freezing and extremely hot temperatures; wax will melt at 150°F / 65°C.

  • Avoid Direct Sunlight - Keep all artwork out of direct sunlight.

  • Transporting a painting - When packing encaustic art for transportation, cover the face of the painting with wax paper. Do not use bubble wrap directly on the front of the painting as it may leave an imprint on the surface. For shipping, build a box the right size for the painting.

  • 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.

  • 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. 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. Once an encaustic painting has fully cured and hardened, it will repel dust.

Video About The Project
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