I had visitors in the studio yesterday and as they were helping me set up large works on the wall they asked me why I was rubbing my hand over the painting.
“I’m making it shine,” I replied. They watched silently and then in unison came the “wow”.
What is Wax Bloom?
What I was doing was rubbing away the wax bloom that develops on encaustic paintings. If you’ve ever worked with colored pencils you may have noticed it there too. Prior to encaustic painting I worked quite a bit with colored pencils. Same condition occurred soon after the work was finished. Waxy bloom was an accepted element of working with colored pencils and for that matter, encaustic!
According to Prismacolor, a maker of colored pencils….
“Wax bloom is a natural oxidation process of wax-based materials, just like rust is an oxidation of iron. It appears as a cloudy white film over a drawing or color lay down.”
But unlike colored pencils, do not apply a fixative to an encaustic painting!
I wait a day or two before I give it a good buffing up. When it is nice and shiny it is ready to be photographed and presented to buyers. Overtime, the painting will “cure” and the need for buffing won’t be necessary.
It’s a good idea to check your painting carefully every few months to see if there is a cloudy appearance to the surface. To remove the cloudiness get a cotton cloth, (shop towels work well) or any cloth that won’t scratch the surface, and wipe gently over the surface of the paintings. You’ll know how much pressure to use when the “bloom” begins to disappear.
I often use the palm of my hand to “warm off” the bloom. Being a tactile, hands on person, I love caring for my paintings in this way.
A little embrace, a “hello I see you” a thanks for lighting up my life!