"Enkaustikos" was a term used by the ancient Greeks meaning to "burn in", and referred to the fusing of layers of wax with the addition of heat to a substrate. Encaustic, or melted wax, was first used over 5000 years ago to seal ships, and later pigments were added to the wax as a paint for decorative purposes.
The oldest existing encaustic relics - Egyptian funeral portraits - date back over two millennia. These stunning, realistic paintings were attached to mummy cases to commemorate the deceased. Due to the chemical structure of the wax, these pieces have been preserved in near perfect condition even after thousands of years.
Recently there has been a resurgence in the use of encaustic as an art medium due to the commercial production and availability of paints. The versatility of beeswax when combined with heat, resin, and pigments, gives it a unique quality desirable for artists. Sculptural and painterly, encaustic can be used to create a wide variety of art forms, and is often used as a means of relaxation and therapy.