Friday, 13 June 2014

Waxing Poetic


After months of searching, I have finally found my wax seal set a friend had given me some years ago. I put it in a safe place so my son wouldn't see it and be tempted to try it out and get into a mess with it and then hid it so well I couldn't find it!

I have a few stamps and several waxes but use them sparingly because they are expensive and when you are on a budget, all avenues of delight seem to suffer. Still, I got to thinking how I could make my own seals and while I was casting around for inspiration, thought, “Hey! A button can be a seal.” as my eyes came to rest on a jar of buttons I have sitting on a shelf.  I have two jars in fact. I just like the colourful bookends they make holding up a few of my favourite books. I dumped a jar of buttons out on my writing table and began sorting though them, separating the plain from the ornate. I found some really great designs among them and made a couple of piles. Those I thought would definitely work and others I just wanted to try to see what image they would render.

Then I thought, hmmm, I don't want to use up all my wax, because that is expensive too and I have some nice colours that aren't readily available. What to do? I decided to try pressing the buttons into a small piece of clay roughly the size of the dollop of wax I would need to make the seal. So far so good. It was interesting to see how the designs on the buttons appeared in relief. Some I was sure would make fabulous seals were just so-so and some I just wanted to try for the heck of it came out great. Using the clay, helped me to sort out the buttons I thought worked best but the real test would be pressing them into hot wax. Most of the buttons I wanted to test were shank buttons and had a loop on the back that made it easy to hold in place and remove after pressing, but others I needed to get a little creative with as they had no loop. That was another factor in weeding out the best of the best. You don't really want to ruin the seal by prizing the button off the wax. I put a little wire through some of the buttons but others it just didn't work, narrowing down the choice of buttons to use even further.

Now I was ready to test. I know that a lot of people use a hot glue gun and glue sticks to make their seals but I've found the glue to be a bit thick and it can come off the envelope so I wanted to try something else. I thought maybe I'd use a candle, but only have white ones and they don't show up the design well. I had to think about it for a while, then I had a scathingly brilliant idea, to borrow a phrase. We've got a box of crayons from when my son was little. We don't use them any more but I couldn't just throw them away so I saved them for a day when they might come in handy. I thought if I tried a few, it wouldn't hurt since they were just sitting there anyway and besides, it's better to use them than waste them. So, I chose a few colours I thought would work...and a few I hoped would work!

There was a bit of trial and error when I began melting the crayons. The flame of the match can cause black swirls to appear in the wax if you hold the match too close. Some crayons sputter and the consistency of different brands of crayons differs, some being very thin and almost watery when melted. Something else I noticed is that the wax stays wetter longer so you have to let it begin to dry before you press the button onto it. I had a few buttons just take the wax up with them at first so I coated the tops with oil and that gave better results but there is still more to experiment with. I also found that the rounded buttons seem to work a little better on the crayon wax than the sealing wax and the flat buttons did better on the sealing wax than the crayon wax which seems to have a bit of suction.

Now I have an arsenal of new seals to use on letters and the crayons worked a charm, so I don't have to scrimp, I can seal more of my letters. Plus...I still have that other jar of buttons to sort through.

I hope you like this idea. I think it's a keeper.


  1. What a brilliant idea. I'm supposed to inherit my mother's button box. Hmm. I wonder if she'll let me have it now? :) Old buttons had such character. My meager collection consists of extras that come with new clothes and they're simple little plastic jobs. Your collection is amazing and I'd be pleased as punch at a party if I had one half as nice. You are clever-clever by far!

  2. I've had these two jars of buttons for eons. I bought one of them at a flea market years ago, and amassed the other one myself so I could use them as bookends. I think this is a pretty cool idea and with a little effort it works very well.