Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos).
Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax and damar resin (crystallized tree sap) to which colored pigments are added. The molten encaustic medium is then applied to a surface to create each piece. Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the medium to fusing the layers onto the piece of work.
Encaustic painting is an ancient technique, dating back to the Greeks, who used wax to caulk ship hulls. Pigmenting the wax resulted in a rich optical effect that gave rise to the decorating of warships. The best known of all encaustic work are the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the 1st through 3rd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt.