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.

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

  1. Silly question… does putting a wax seal on the outside of an envelope you are putting through the mail work, or is it only practical for inner envelopes? And if used (whether for inner or outer envelopes), is it likely to increase postage?

  2. i’m so in love with wax seals and dip pens and nice heavy paper but i have no reason to ever use them besides the occasional scrapbook page. anyone i would write a pretty letter to, i talk to online so often it makes snail mail redundant and silly. anyone have a good excuse to use lovely stationary?

  3. I find many excuses to use lovely stationery, but one of the best is to make a habit of sending thank-you notes. sending a paper note says something email and phone calls don’t and people love to get them – especially moms and grandmothers. I love to send thank-you notes at Thanksgiving to people who have contributed to my life in some way throughout the year.
    another good use is love letters and even quick notes to your sweetie – tucked into a lunch, or other unexpected place, a note is a lovely thing to find.

    • The viking ship has come into regular use in our house for sneaky love notes when one of us is going to be gone overnight somewhere else… it’s a fun extra touch to handwritten notes just because, and has led me to writing more “snail mail” for an excuse to use it – and who doesn’t love snail mail?

  4. This is brilliant! I can use this technique in scrapbooking pages too! Great tutorial!

  5. I was in an actual button store! I bought a wolf, a crest, and an anchor for less than $2! I have some sealing wax for practice but I can’t get it to work, I think I’m gonna cheat and buy the wax for glue guns. So excited.

  6. Hey this is a great idea. I have a cute button which I would love to use as a seal for my cute nephew. I am going to try this idea right away and hope it turns out fine. As I am going to try this for the first time, I am excited and happy.

  7. Initially I was apprehensive but I followed step by step mentioned on this post and it turned out excellent. These wax seals are not only economical,attractive but also easy to make with minimal raw material.I will use them on my husband’s company’s letterhead.

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