Encaustic, the process of painting with heated wax, is very old. There are encaustic paintings hanging in museums today that date back to approximately 100-300 CE.
The commercial encaustic medium I use is a combination of beeswax, damar, and artist-grade pigment. In my work, I apply up to ten layers of heated wax to my paper clay substrates. I often follow the application of wax with several layers of oil pigment. Each layer is individually fused to the layer beneath it.
Encaustic art can obviously last a long time, but care should be taken. Display indoors, away from direct sunlight (daylight is fine), and avoid extremes of temperature (your car or above a wood stove, for example). On the other hand, don’t worry too much. As the painter Tom Sime tells collectors, “Wax melts at 150 degrees. If my paintings are melting in your house, you’ve got a bigger problem. Your house is on fire!”*
Buff periodically with a clean soft cloth to restore the wax to its original luster. And don’t forget to enjoy the delightful fragrance of the beeswax!
*Quote taken from The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax, by Joanne Mattera