Raiding the button jar: How to make your own wax seal

Guest post by Liz Gubernatis

Wax Seal made from a knight and a viking ship button

Wax seals lend a hand-made touch to invitations, place cards, and other paper-crafted pieces of a wedding. They're also a simple but gorgeous way to seal your handwritten vows until ceremony time, or to close a love letter for your significant other, all super-romantic-like. Beautiful seals are available commercially and from various vendors on Etsy, but here's a trick to making your very own at home with a small handful of supplies.

Materials and Tools:

  • One shank button with raised design, preferably made of metal, though thick plastic will also work in a pinch. (A shank button is one without those handy stich holes, and with a shank or ring on the back you would use to stitch it onto your item, instead.)
  • An old chess piece: bishops, kings, queens, rooks, all work well for this.
  • Epoxy
  • Nail polish remover

Special Note Regarding Buttons: The flatter your button, the easier it is to get a good imprint in the wax. Rounded buttons will work, but may require more wax or a finessed impression technique to see the whole image. Raid your local button jar, garage sales, or thrift shops for buttons with fabulous imagery, or if you're looking for something specific, try local yarn and quilt shops for a wide selection of awesome finds.

Procedure

Step 1: Clean your old chess piece. Peel off any felt on the bottom and use a dap of nail polish remover to clean any gunk off the wood's surface. (Yes, you can use plastic or glass pieces for this, too – I had an old wood set laying around missing a pawn, so that's what I've used here.)

Three Seals to Be

Step 2: Clean and dry your button, paying particular attention to the shank side. If it is possible to remove the ring at the back, go ahead and do so. If it's part of the button, leave it be.

Step 3: Knead your epoxy together according to the instructions on your product. I use enough to make a small marble. This lets me flatten it into a disc that covers the bottom of the chess piece with enough depth to seat the shank of the button. I like Wonder Putty because it's quick-setting and holds forever, and if I'm too impatient with my application, it's also easily sanded down to fix any goopy weird globs.

Mixing and applying the epoxy

Step 4: Use the epoxy to set the shank side of the button into the bottom of the chess piece. Try to keep this as even as possible. Let set/dry according to instructions. This is the hardest part. If you get greedy you'll have to start over when your button sticks in the wax and your handle comes off because you just couldn't wait. Don't let it happen to you!

Finished Wax Seals

Step 5: TaDa! Time to test your new seal. Melt your sealing wax using a torch and allow a few drops spill onto your testing paper. When a small pool has formed, wait about 10-20 seconds to let it begin to cool. Press your seal into the wax gently but firmly, and lift straight up. Voila!

Testing the wax seal on envelope

Applications:

Just about any paper product can be sealed with this, though you should always test on scrap first to see how the wax and your paper play together.

Seal ribbons on gifts, but avoid synthetic ribbons, which may smolder when wax is applied. Silk ribbons are best for this application.

Tips:

If your seal begins to stick to the wax when making impressions, it's probably getting too warm. Best way to fix this is to put it on ice between impressions — not directly, as the water would get messy, too, but fill a plastic baggy with ice (or grab a bag of peas) and let the metal part of the seal sit on it to cool — should lift clean away as you keep stamping.

If wax sticks to the button or seal, cool it off then use a toothpick to pick at any bits that are stubborn. If there is still some residual wax left, it can normally be removed with nail polish remover.

Niche links:

How can you make this your own offbeat item? Choosing your button puts the design decision in your hands. Here are a few ideas:

Your turn! Will you make yourself one of these? Please comment below telling us how you plan to use your bad ass wax seal.

Comments on Raiding the button jar: How to make your own wax seal

  1. YEAH LIZ!
    Good post, too.
    I’ll be making one of these for J….I see a valentines day present in the near future….

  2. This is my favourite idea! We were trying to get custom initial ones made, but it was way out of our budget. I am definitely going to try making these this weekend!

    • Fantastic! I tried to make an initial – but buttons turn into reversed seals, so only those letters that are symmetrical work for this. There are SO many pretty buttons out there, though! Would love to see what you come up with!

  3. I saw this post and almost cried! My fiancé and I just had a family crest done, I’m going to look for a button that’s similar in some way and have this done!! Thanks so much!

  4. Rubber stamps will work for this, too. And if you want to use a letter for your seal, like for a monogram, a rubber stamp won’t reverse the letter when you press it into the wax. 🙂

  5. When we used seals we found that you can get the wax at stores like Papersource ready to put into a glue gun. This made everything go a LOT faster.

  6. PERFECT! I have always wanted a wax seal but so was too expensive! You solved long-standing problem! My wedding guests will get an even snazzier invite now!

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