Bells of Ireland, Hydrangea and Roses
The basic components for encaustic are: – wax, add pigment, paint, melt, fuse.
There are many variations and all the standard reference books will give great advice, most artists seem to experiment and share useful bits of information concerning hot plates, travel irons, crock- pots and an assortment of tools and scavenged items from dentistry tools to kitchen spatulas. The most recent for me and quite unique – Hot Florida Sunshine!! Now every native Floridian knows that it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the ground here well I can officially confirm it’s also hot enough to melt wax. My blow torch packed in, just as I had everything set up outside and as I was playing with matches and trying to get the flames going again I looked over at the canvas and mother nature was doing her work. The optimum range for working with beeswax is 165*F to 220*F. However some artists use a 200 watt bulb to fuse wax so lower temperatures of 150*F can also work!
Of course this big question is, “Will the finished painting melt”?
It takes extreme heat in a concentrated area to harm a finished painting, but I would not recommend putting any painting in direct sunlight. There is a big difference between direct sunlight and daylight!!
There have been stories of collectors buying encaustic art and leaving the paintings in the car, not a good idea to go shopping for a few hours or you will return to puddles of wax. Car temperatures can reach 120*F here. Extreme cold can also be problematic, let’s use the car scenario again. Leave a painting in your car at subzero temps and it may separate from its ground.
Still melting wax is a collectors big fear, painter Tom Sime gets the last word on ambient temperature: “I tell collectors, ‘Wax melts at 150*F. If my paintings are melting in your house, you’ve got a bigger problem. Your house is on fire!’”
(This Photo shows the Still Life Set Up in the Studio – I forget that people like to see these shots. I changed a few things since the photo was taken and finishing the painting. One of the Bells of Ireland stalks was shooting up too central in the composition so I used artistic license! Check the final painting again and see if you notice 😉 )