Encaustic means to burn in and is a technique used to create hot wax paintings The heat turns the wax into a solvent and when applied to a surface, mixed with coloured pigments the artist can create vibrant textural work.

In the vast annals of art history, few mediums have displayed the enduring allure of encaustic art. This technique, which involves using heated beeswax combined with coloured pigments, has roots that travel deep into antiquity.

Ancient Beginnings
The earliest records of encaustic art date back to the Greco-Roman era, particularly in ancient Greece around the 5th century BC. During this time, the method was employed for various purposes, ranging from the depiction of iconic figures on warships to more domestic and decorative uses. However, it was the stunning Fayum mummy portraits from ancient Egypt that most significantly showcased the mediums capability. These portraits, often depicting the deceased in poignant detail, were affixed to mummies as a memorial and remain among the most celebrated examples of encaustic artistry.

Medieval Resurgence
While the technique experienced a decline during the Dark Ages, it witnessed a modest revival in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in the crafting of religious icons. The luminous quality of encaustic, paired with its longevity, made it a choice medium for representing divine figures.

Decline and Dormancy
The complexities associated with the encaustic process, coupled with the rise of tempera and oil painting, led to its diminished prominence in the ensuing centuries. For a long time, the art form remained dormant, occasionally surfacing in specific pockets of Europe but never gaining widespread appeal.

20th Century Revival
It was not until the 20th century that encaustic art began to resurface, particularly during the modern art movement. Artists, in their quest to experiment and push boundaries, rediscovered this ancient medium. This period saw the adaptation of modern tools, including electric irons, heated palettes, and propane torches, which simplified the process and expanded its potential.

The British Context
In the context of Britain, encaustic art has always been an exotic import. Its presence can be traced back to the interest in Egyptian artefacts during the 19th century, sparked by archaeological discoveries. The Fayum portraits, some of which found their way to British museums, intrigued many. However, the widespread appreciation and practice of encaustic art in the UK is a relatively modern phenomenon. It was only in the latter half of the 20th century, as art movements became more globalised and interconnected, that British artists began to experiment with the medium in earnest. Today, encaustic works by British artists meld traditional techniques with contemporary themes, reflecting the nations rich tapestry of history, culture, and innovation.

Contemporary Resonance
In recent times, encaustic art has carved a niche for itself among aficionados of both traditional and contemporary art. Its organic, tactile nature appeals to modern sensibilities, and its versatility ensures its continued evolution. Across the UK, workshops and classes dedicated to encaustic techniques are testament to its growing appeal.

In essence, encaustic arts journey, from ancient civilisations to contemporary British studios, is a testament to the mediums timeless beauty and resilience. While its place has fluctuated over millennia, its unique allure remains undiminished.

Your main tool for creating encaustic art is an iron or another hot surface for both melting and applying the wax and colour to the surface you are working with.

Choose an iron with no steam holes and excellent thermostatic regulation and control. You could also use a stylus or hotplate.

If you choose to use a stylus then you can get lots of different tips to apply the wax, , pen, brush, micro or mini iron.

A hot plate of for example A2 size could be used.

You could also look at wax movers, scrappers, brushes, sponges and hot air guns.

This is the foundational material for encaustic art. When melted, it acts as a versatile medium that can be pigmented or used in its natural form. For instance, a piece depicting the rolling hills of the Cotswolds might use pure beeswax to give a soft, translucent effect to the skies.

Damar Resin
Often combined with beeswax to increase the hardness and raise the melting point of the wax. In a seascape portraying Cornwalls rugged coastline, damar resin-infused wax might add a glossy finish, mimicking the glistening ocean waves.

Natural mineral pigments are used to colour the wax. Imagine a vibrant portrayal of a sunset over Edinburgh, where deep oranges and purples derived from natural minerals bring the sky to life.

Wood Panels
Encaustic art is often created on wood panels due to their rigidity. A historical depiction of the Battle of Hastings might be set on a large oak panel, allowing for intricate detailing with wax.

Linseed Oil
Though less common, it can be mixed with wax to create a smoother texture. In a floral piece illustrating the wildflowers of Yorkshire, linseed oil-infused wax might be used to achieve delicate, flowing lines.

Natural Brushes
Crafted from animal hair, these brushes ensure smooth application of wax. In a detailed portrait, perhaps of a notable figure like Queen Victoria, fine horsehair brushes might be employed to capture the intricate facial features.

Metal Tools
Often hand-forged, these tools help in carving and sculpting the wax. In a relief artwork showcasing the architectural beauty of Oxford University, metal tools could be utilised to etch the detailed facades of the buildings.

When applied to the surface and heated, it can create unique textures and patterns due to the bubbling effect. Picture an abstract representation of the Scottish Highlands, where shellac-induced bubbles mimic the rugged, rocky terrain.

Plant-based Dyes
Sometimes used to tint the wax, offering an alternative to mineral pigments. An artwork centred on the serene gardens of Kent might employ plant-derived greens and yellows to paint a vivid, natural scene.

Utilising these natural materials, encaustic artists across the UK are able to craft evocative pieces that resonate with the rich tapestry of British landscapes, history, and culture.

As a craft tutor, I find people are often confused by what is meant by Encaustic art. I have drawn the conclusion that although it is specifically related to creating art with molten wax, sometimes it is how you do it that determines how people define it and their interest in it. Encaustic Art the English way (although lots of nations do it). What I would call the English way, this is my definition there are plenty of English artists who do it using what I would call the American Way, is to paint on a non-absorbent surface using tools such as an iron developed by Michael Bossom this way leaves a textured but flatter surface for your work. The American Way many artists particularly the likes of Jasper John work their Encaustic art by layering the wax onto a surface of canvas wood etc what they are looking for is height and depth to their wax which is also great for embedding objects and photographs. This technique requires melting the wax in some way so that you can pour it or paint it directly onto the surface of your work with a brush, you need to keep all surfaces warm at the same time or the wax solidifies. I like to use and teach a mixture of both techniques whichever you prefer do not dismiss Encaustic art. Molten wax can create wonderful effects it is also tactile and can be used to enhance your artwork think Rousseau as well as to create standalone work. Toni Peers

Interactive Demonstrations
Hosting live sessions where visitors can witness the encaustic process can pique interest. For instance, one might melt and mould wax on a wood panel, creating a miniature rendition of the Cliffs of Dover, captivating potential customers with the arts mesmerising flow.

Engaging Displays
Setting up a visually appealing stall can draw attendees. An encaustic artist could use a rustic wooden easel to prominently display a piece showcasing the vibrant colours of a Cornish seascape, thus acting as a magnet for onlookers.

Provide Historical Context
Sharing the ancient origins and rich history of encaustic art can engage history buffs. A maker might, for example, discuss the ancient Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits while presenting portraits that echo this traditional style.

Emphasise Natural Materials
Promote the use of natural ingredients in the artworks. An encaustic depiction of the Scottish Highlands, crafted using beeswax from local apiaries, might be highlighted to attract eco-conscious attendees.

Offer Varied Sizes
By providing a range of art sizes, sellers can cater to various budgets and preferences. Miniature encaustic tiles depicting snippets of London landmarks can sit alongside grander pieces, ensuring something for everyone.

Workshops and Classes
Promote short workshops for those intrigued by the art form. During a fair in Birmingham, for instance, an artist could offer attendees the chance to craft their own encaustic bookmark, giving them a hands-on experience.

Collaborate with Local Themes
Showcase pieces that resonate with local culture and landscapes. At a fair in Wales, an artist might present works highlighting the beauty of Snowdonia, forging a connection with local attendees.

Clear Labelling
Ensuring that each piece has clear information regarding materials and care can build buyer confidence. For a piece showcasing the serene lakes of Cumbria, an accompanying card might detail the use of damar resin and the best ways to display the artwork.

Offer Protective Packaging
Given the delicate nature of encaustic art, offering robust packaging solutions can reassure buyers. After selling an artwork that captures the bustle of Liverpools waterfront, an artist might provide it in a cushioned box, ensuring its safe transport.

Build a Portfolio
Having a portfolio that visitors can peruse allows them to see the breadth of an artists work. This collection might include sold pieces, like an evocative portrayal of Brighton Pier, hinting at the artists acclaim and versatility.

By embracing these strategies, encaustic artists in the UK can make a memorable mark in the vibrant craft fair scene, attracting enthusiasts and novices alike.

Here are a series of encaustic art ideas tailored for the tastes and preferences of craft fair attendees in the UK:

British Landscapes
Craft panoramic views of iconic British settings. An artist might create a textured representation of the Lake District, its shimmering waters and undulating hills captured in layers of wax.

Historic Buildings
Encaustic works highlighting Britains architectural gems can attract history enthusiasts. One could depict the towering spires and intricate stained glass windows of York Minster using varied wax textures.

Wildlife Portraits
Capture the essence of British wildlife. A striking piece might feature the majestic stag found in the Scottish Highlands, its antlers and intense gaze rendered vividly in wax.

Seaside Scenes
Britains coastal beauty can be a focal theme. Imagine a serene scene of fishermen at work in a Cornish cove, the reflections in the water created using translucent layers of wax.

Floral Inspirations
The UKs flora offers a plethora of ideas. A piece might be inspired by the bluebells of Sussex, with the delicate flowers swaying under a dappled forest canopy.

Abstract Themes
Explore abstract concepts using encaustic techniques. A piece could merge cool and warm hues, symbolising the meeting of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Folklore and Legends
Delve into Britains rich tapestry of myths. An enchanting artwork might tell the tale of the Welsh legend of the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach, her silhouette emerging from the depths of a wax-rendered lake.

City Skylines
Urban settings offer a plethora of inspiration. One might craft the skyline of Manchester during sunset, the citys blend of historic and modern architecture melting into the fiery backdrop.

Seasonal Themes
Tap into the changing British seasons. A winter-themed piece, for instance, could depict children playing in the snow outside Windsor Castle.

Nautical Inspirations
Britains maritime history offers ample ideas. Envisage a scene from the bustling Brighton Marina, with boats anchored and seagulls circling, all captured in textured wax.

Interactive Pieces
Consider creating encaustic artworks that involve audience participation. An example might be a map of the British Isles, where attendees can mark their hometowns using coloured wax drips.

With these ideas in tow, encaustic artists in the UK can surely enthrall craft fair attendees, offering them both traditional and innovative glimpses into the mediums potential.