Thursday, June 4, 2009

Using sealing wax: a step-by-step photo tutorial

2-part letter with wax seals

One of my wonderful fountain-pen correspondents sent me this 2-part letter, both envelopes sealed with sealing wax and a different seal. He warned me in an email that a letter was coming in 2 parts, and I'm glad he did, because of course part 1 arrived the day after part 2.

Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax

In his marvelous letter, he gave a detailed explanation of using sealing wax, along wit all these wonderful photos documenting the whole process. I have still never used sealing wax myself, but I took photos of his photos just so I could share them with you all. They're marvelous photos, and I'm not sure if my photos of the photos are doing them justice.

Step 1: lamp and melting spoon
Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax, step 1

Step 2: cutting the wax stick
Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax, step 2

Here I'll note that he said in his letter he was initially loathe to try J. Herbin sealing wax because it was exponentially more expensive than the other brands, but he went on to explain exactly why it's exponentially better in quality, too.

Step 3: melting the wax in the spoon
Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax, step 3

Step 4: melted wax in spoon
Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax, step 4

Step 5: stirring with a match
Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax, step 5

Step 6: the wax before the seal
Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax, step 6

Step 7: Voila!
Step-by-step photo tutorial on using sealing wax, step 7

My meta-fancy was tickled that I got a photo of my letter, in my letter. This is probably a big part of why it came in 2 parts/2 envelopes... though it was nice and fat!

Thanks so much to the wonderful guy who sent these photos. I'll keep him anonymous unless he asks to share.

Isn't all his fancy equipment COOL?? (Yes, I'm very, very tempted...)


  1. This is awesome! It would seem to me though that you could just use a lighter to get the same effect. There's no problem with putting this stuff in the mail? I am assuming so because you got it! Is there a higher postage or anything else you have to do differently?

  2. I don't know about the lighter. I've never used sealing wax so I couldn't comment on that.

    There's no problem with putting it in the mail, and no extra postage, although I do occasionally get wax seals that are partly broken or mangled. You can see from the top photo that the seal on Part 2 didn't arrive completely intact. It depends a lot on the wax you use, I gather. If you click on the wax seal label at the end of the post, you'll see a lot of photos of letters with wax seals I've received.

    I will say that on letters from Canada and the UK, there seems to be a bit of a delay on letters with wax seals. But I don't mind. It kind of surprises me that they can travel such distances with their seals intact.

  3. You can use a lighter, or even matches, though the torch-style cigar lighters work a bit better - they're hotter and it's easier to direct the heat where you want it, especially if there's any draft. I usually use a creme-brule torch, which is perhaps slightly overkill, but easy.


  4. I have never used a melting spoon, I simply light the wick and if it doesn't melt well, hold the lighter too the wax. Seems to work ok, so far. Will keep you posted as I use more sealing wax on my letters.

  5. Wow!!! Thank you to him.

    Only used the kind of sealing wax, which one lights. And that's not the best, I have heard tell. Never used this kind.

    Try some, for us, Dear Missives Maven! Give us more push, to try it ourselves. :-)

    Dear you,

  6. I just blew my fun-money budget on some nice fountain pens, so you won't be seeing any sealing wax guinea pig action from me this summer, alas. I don't have the money to invest in all the wax and tools right now.

  7. How neat! I've only used a regular spoon for my wax seals, the wax spoon definitely looks more efficient. I want!

  8. Why did he say it was exponentially better than other sealing waxes?

  9. He indicated that it behaved better all-around - from how it melted to how it mixed to how it took the seal. Maybe he'll ring in. :-)

  10. It's better due to the color density of the wax. The cheaper waxes I use, you can see through the wax after stamping. The J Herbin, regardless of color, seems richer. It is also easier to cut and section than the other waxes.