Blink your eyes not, because lo and behold, my very first wax seal!
Getting a wax seal has been in my mind for a long, long time. How long? I guess I started loving it from the day I saw a wax seal in use on TV. That must have been donkey years ago! The thought has probably been rolling around in the deep mud amidst all other murky and dark stuff at the back of my mind, until recently, when these so-called “archaic” thingums started resurfacing along with my “super-calligraphilistic-inky-alidocious” desires.
Why “archaic”, you might ask? Much as I don’t wish to admit it, calligraphy, beautiful lettering and handwriting are a thing that is going to be the past. DON’T EVER LET THAT HAPPEN. To what extent has this become? Here is an example: a friend has helped me to buy a fountain pen online last year (my Lamy Vista). When the parcel arrived, the father asked about its contents. She told him it was a fountain pen for me. He said, “Wow, who is your friend? Who uses fountain pens in this time and age?” Already it has been implied that I and my hobbies are archaic. Today we were joking about it again when I showed the same friend pictures of sealing wax and explained to her how it works. “My father is gonna comment about your archaic tendencies again,” she said.
Oh well, archaic if you wish, but I totally love a nice wax seal. I don’t know how to judge whether a seal is good or not yet, but this being my first, I found it incredibly interesting to play with. Why I decided to get it today: I was watching a video by Brian Goulet on Ink Nouveau on wax seals, afterwhich I happened to be at Ngee Ann City Level 4 with a friend. No, the meetup location wasn’t intentional. Really. Okay, fine I admit, it WAS intentional.
It cost S$17.90 per set at Art Friend, and I don’t know whether this is considered cheap or expensive. I got the “M” because it is the initial of my given name (duh, why would I need a “Z” or a “J”?). My first impression (no pun intended) was that the engraving of the seal did not look very deep, and I wondered if it would really make a nice seal or not. But I decided to try it out anyway, and I virtually rushed home after that.
The diameter of the seal measures about 19mm (almost 2cm) and the original wax stick measures about 10cm long. After dripping enough wax to make about 7 thin seals, I am left with approximately 8cm. That should extrapolate to about 35 thin seals from the full stick, or perhaps 20 if you prefer thicker seals.
I think the design on the brass is really nice, and the result on the wax is also prominent. However I am less excited about the dark red colour and I’ll be looking for other colours (especially pearlescent and metallic ones) in future! I noticed the wax seems to be more viscous than normal candle wax, and decided to search Wikipedia about it.
Formulas vary, but there was a major shift after European trade with the Indies opened. In the Middle Ages sealing wax was typically made of beeswax and ‘Venice turpentine’, a greenish-yellow resinous extract of the European Larch tree. The earliest such wax was uncoloured; later the wax was coloured red with vermilion. From the 16th century it was compounded of various proportions of shellac, turpentine, resin, chalk or plaster, and colouring matter (often vermilion, or red lead), but not necessarily beeswax. The proportion of chalk varied; coarser grades are used to seal wine bottles and fruit preserves, finer grades for documents. In some situations, such as large seals on public documents, beeswax was used. On occasion, sealing wax has historically been perfumed by ambergris, musk and other scents. SOURCE
The dried string on the right was caused by the wax drying too fast before it fully dripped onto the paper. But I don’t remember normal candle wax to be so stringy. I’m wondering what is causing the stringiness of the wax. If you don’t know what “stringiness” means, think mucus from the nose. Okay, shall not elaborate.
I also tried peeling off the seal from the paper. It holds pretty fast but comes off easily too – along with some paper. There is also a coloured spot left behind on the paper where the wax has been. It’s a good thing – gives a warning of “RED ALERT if seal has been tampered”.
While normal candle wax seems to leave a waxy residual feeling on the fingers, I don’t perceive such a feeling when I touch sealing wax. Sealing wax is smooth. Also, while candle was is brittle and scratches off easily, sealing wax is FLEXIBLE! At the same time, it can also be torn apart, especially when you are breaking it to open up a letter. I don’t have a picture of this because I haven’t finished admiring my nice work yet.
Next step is probably to find a way to customize my own design on a brass seal!
(Anticipates a big spending again)