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The word encaustic comes from the ancient Greek word enkaustikos, which means “to heat” or “to burn.” Encaustic is the name of both the medium – pigmented wax – and the process involving heat by which the wax is manipulated and applied to the surface.

The optical effects and layering in encaustics are unlike any other artform. The medium is also great for mixed media work. Paper, fabric, beads, metal bits, etc. can be embedded in the wax. Although at times the encaustic artist needs to work quickly because the wax is fluid for only a short time, the surfaces can be reworked continuously. A heat gun is often employed to re-melt and rework the surface. Ceramic or household tools, like forks, can also be used to scrape back and gouge the surface.