Sunday, March 12, 2017

wax seal for snail mail

While in New Orleans for a quick New Years trip back in December, H and I stumbled upon a writing supplies store while walking around the French Quarter, Papier Plume. Seeing different calligraphy inks in the window display obviously sucked me in immediately, and while perusing the store, I found an array of sealing wax and stamps. After seeing the sealing wax and stamp used in action during a demo at the store, I purchased them. Excited to finally use it, I sealed a wedding card envelope I recently sent to a friend.

The composition of sealing wax has changed over time. In the Middle Ages, it was largely composed of either beeswax or extract of the European Larch tree. Later, resin and shellac became more common. Unfortunately, by the mid-nineteenth century, pre-gummed envelopes made their debut and thus wax seals lost their appeal. Nonetheless, wax seals remain a timeless extra to personalized snail mail. I've put together a quick how-to if you want to try using your own wax and stamp to seal envelopes, letters, or ribbons.

Step 1: Light a candle. Dip the end of your sealing wax stick into the fire to melt some wax. When it looks like the surface of the tip has melted (should take less than 5 seconds), you're ready to place the wax on your paper. Be careful- leaving the wax in the fire too long will cause the wax to start dripping everywhere. 

Step 2: Place and very gently press the melted wax tip onto your desired stamp location. Hold it there for just as long as it takes to get a puddle of wax onto the paper.

Step 3: After removing the stick of wax, let the wax puddle sit for about 2-3 seconds and then press the stamp onto the wax. Hold the stamp firmly there for about 5 seconds. Remove stamp and you're done!


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