Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ink Nouveau #04: How many wax seals from one stick?

On J. Herbin's literature, they state 7 seals per stick of supple wax, but I noticed I was getting more than that. I'm using a J. Herbin brass letter "G" (for Goulet!), which is probably average-small for all of the seals out there.

I had a bunch of letters I was writing and I thought I'd grab the camera and time lapse the sealing I was doing to prove how many I could do. Well...I did 17 and only got through about half a stick. I used the J. Herbin H331/04 gold wax, to match the seal on the front of the new 1670 anniversary ink I just got in! Since I was writing with the ink, it was very complementary!

Doing that many seals in a row, it was helpful (and kinda critical) to use an ice pack to keep the brass seal cool. I gave this tip before in my other post about the seals.

This is a new stick next to the stick after 17 seals:

In the end, it took me 33 (close to 34) seals to finish out that stick! With 4 sticks in a pack, that's over 120 seals (at least the way I do it!). Not bad! Of course it'll vary, but since my experience is so much different than what the literature claims, I thought it was worth sharing!

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.


  1. You melt the stick and rub it on the paper. I thought you were supposed to drip the wax onto the paper. Dripping the wax would result in a thicker seal and use more wax. Maybe using the dripping method is how Herbin came up with seven seals per stick.

  2. I liked the time lapse and banjo music.

  3. I suppose....but does rubbing it on the paper really use 5 times less wax? Could be I suppose. Maybe I should try another test with dripping the wax....more banjo music!!

  4. Sorry to chime in so late but I just discovered your blog from Rhodia Drive.

    I find I get 2 seals for each 3 "ribs" on a stick which works out to 36 seals per stick, which is pretty close to your results. I cut mine from the stick with a knife and melt the wax in a spoon, keeping 2 or 3 old spoons with wax residue so I lose less since I usually do only one seal at a time.

    My usual seal is an old family seal that is roughly a 15mm circle, but I get the same result from some other circles and ovals of about the same size.

  5. I liked the time lapse and banjo music.

  6. You are making very thin seals! When I make a seal I make it to form a closure. Let's say I have written a short letter using 3 sheets of paper - I fold them and where I make the seal I have to use enough wax to hold those three sheets down firmly so that someone has to break the wax to open the letter. I need the wax to hold the last few millimetres of each page individually and firmly (so that no-one can slip sheets out from the letter). To do this I need a lot more wax than you are using here!

    I use a standard 25 millimetre seal and get 8, maybe 9, nice deep wax seals from a ten centimetre stick. A standard crest seal of 38 millimetres diameter will produce four seals from a ten centimetre stick and 7 from a "Bank of England" wax stick.

    I was brought up on the "spoon" method of making a seal (use a tea-light if you don't have an Aga) - first spoonful of wax seals and forms the closure you need to protect your letter, second spoonful of wax is applied before the first has fully cooled and is the one into which you make your impression. It is vital the first wax deposit has not fully solidified before the second is laid down - I learnt to be quick because my grandmother would belt me over the knuckles with a steel rule if I were too slow!

  7. I suppose my seals are a bit thin, but that's because they are really just aesthetic. They aren't actually 'sealing' anything. You can use as much wax as you want, but what I wanted to show was how far you can go with one stick to get a good 'looking' seal using a J. Herbin brass seal. The amount of wax will vary based on your individual usage, of course.


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