Monday, 22 October 2012

Notes on Wax Sealing

As I've gotten back into crafting handouts and props for EtCR, I've been trying out a bunch of different things with wax seals. I've discovered a couple things from both reading and experimenting:

Sealing Wax Set

First off, candle wax does not make effective sealing wax. The wax needs to be of a specific consistency, especially if you're looking to make an impression in it.

I currently have two types of store-bought wax: the two wick-sticks on the left, one in matte crimson and the other in a lustre bronze. The other type is the solid, sky-blue stick on the right. Searching around town, these seem two be the only kinds I can currently get. I'm not sure of the manufacturer of the ones' on the left, but the one on the right is made by J. Herbin. Out of the two types, I prefer the latter for several reasons:

The brand on the left was what I got when I was first using sealing wax on some birthday invites many years ago. It appears to be of a lesser quality mixture because it tends to split when heated, causing the oil in the wax to seep into the paper. Although this does make a relatively soft seal that won't crack if you're looking to send it through the mail. Also the wax itself tends to catch fire when you try to melt it by burning the wick. Not a good thing dripping burning wax onto a paper letter you're trying to seal.

Whereas I found the J. Herbin brand much nicer to work with: First of all the mixture is much better quality. Their website claims it contains seven natural elements, one of which is pine resin, which becomes apparent when you melt the wax: It smells incredible. I picked up this wax a week or so ago, along with the ceramic melting crucible in the back of the photo. This traditional wax is more brittle and seems to have a higher melting point than the other brand. I found that the crucible worked decently melting the wax, but upon pouring the majority of it tended to stick on the inside of the bowl. I tried placing the crucible in a small amount boiling water to spread the heat, but it didn't seem to be hot enough. I might try placing the crucible in a small copper dish and putting directly on the stove element, but I'm concerned about cracking the ceramic.

I experimented with a couple things today. First was using a bunch of the many buttons we have as seals. I have two seals; a simple initial (left foreground) I picked up for invitations, and a stylized compass rose (right background in front of the candle holder, click here for impression example) that I found at a flea market. My search around town for more heraldic seals came up with nothing beyond letters. Searching the web for DIY sealing wax I came across this clever idea using shank buttons and chess pieces to make your own wax seals.

Button Wax Seals

Referring again to the above photo, you'll see that the flatter buttons made the best seals. Now all I need to do is find some old wooden chess pieces. :)

The other thing I tried out was using a heat embossing tool, which essentially functions like a focus, high-powered hairdryer. I worked quite well melting the wax, though it did tend to blow the wax around a bit, so still not the best tool for the job. I read that torch lighters are recommended as the best way to melt sealing wax, so I may eventually pick one up for use.

I'd like to attempt making my own sealing wax via this instructable. Also, I heard melted crayons might work as a sealing wax, but I am skeptical given their consistency is similar to candle wax.

If you'd like to learn more about wax sealing, I highly recommend the links provided on J. Herbin's website.

Cheers! ;{١