My sister-in-law, Rebekah Goldman, has had fine writing thrust upon her as a lifestyle simply by being related to me ;) No seriously though, she’s a photographer who wanted to include classy, handwritten notes to her clients. She told me about some of her struggles getting started with wax seals, and it was perfect to share with all of you. Many of you know I’m seriously afflicted with the wax seal addiction, having done some 1,300+ seals by now (since I started in April). Rebekah brings to light some of the ‘struggles’ a wax seal newbie can face! All of the mistakes she made here are fixable, so I think a ‘wax seal salvage’ video may be in my future! Oh, and a shameless plug, check out her blog and definitely hire her if you’re in need of a wedding/family photographer in the DC Metro area! ;) ~ Brian Goulet

I’m always finding ways to stand out to my clients, do something different and personal.  I’m a professional photographer and few days ago one of my engagement couples ordered some prints from me.  I don’t sell prints as often as I’d like so I really wanted to roll out the red carpet for them.  After “accidentally” eating the lollypop the printing company sent, I realized I needed to do something special.  I had just purchased some fancy G. Lalo paper and envelopes for writing letters, as well as a few sticks of wax and a brass seal with a fancy letter “R” from my brother-in-law.  You might have heard of him, probably not – his name is Brian.  Anyway, I had just finished up a great run with Diamine Marine (probably my favorite color) and decided to go PINK with a sample of Caran d’Ache Sunset.  I was ready to write my thank you letter to my client.

After getting my pen all set up, I tested the ink to make sure it was running smoothly (I’m still really messy at that) and began to write my note.  I started small at the top and it went something like this:

Katie and Alex,
I had a wonderful time with you guys the other weekend.  I hope you enjoy your prints!  Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you!

That’s it?  I had barely filled up a quarter of the page!  Maybe I need to write bigger next time.  I added my signature at the bottom as big as I could without it being too obvious that I was just trying to fill space to look cool.  I grabbed an envelope, wrote their names of the front, and proceeded downstairs to find a lighter.

I went everywhere and couldn’t find one anywhere.  Although Brian told me not to, I attempted to use a match.  Luckily I didn’t burn any fingers off, but after holding it there for the duration of the light, I barely got one drop of wax.  After more searching, I finally found the cool clicky lighter thing and began to heat up my wax.  I waited… waited… and finally it began dripping.  I had practiced this before, doing demonstrations at the DC Supershow, so I felt like a pro.  I made sure the brass seal was clean, and even blew on it like I’ve seen Brian do.  I watched the wax drip… drip… drip.  Finally, I felt like there was enough, put the lighter down, and began swirling.  I was confident this was the perfect amount of wax – I had even centered the drippings right in the middle of the envelope fold and was ready to seal.  I put the lighter and the wax down, grabbed the seal handle, and pressed firmly in the middle.  I beamed as I witnessed wax spreading all around the brass seal – I knew this was a good one.  I couldn’t wait to see the finished result.  I slowly pulled the seal away and…

…it was upside down.  How could I have missed this?  I spent so much time preparing and making sure every detail was accounted for, and I forgot so little as to LOOK at the brass seal before I pressed it down?  How stupid can I be?

After failing to pull the previous wax seal off, I went to my room to grab another G. Lalo envelope.  Sigh… these things are expensive.  But, being the perfectionist I am, I had to get it right.  I went back for round two, made sure everything was set up correctly, and even placed my seal handle in a position that I would grab it right-side-up.  I started up the lighter, watched the wax drip, drip, drip… and began swirling.  As I grabbed for my seal I double and triple checked that it would be right-side-up.  I pushed the seal into the wax and… nothing.  The wax didn’t move.  It didn’t do that cool thingy where it comes oozing out the sides.  Did I mess up again?  I pulled the seal away only to reveal that I had not used enough wax.

Again?  Ugh.  To some people, this could be acceptable, but I’m going for a 16th century look – I want a real, genuine wax seal.  I had to try one more time.

Each step I took up the stairs to my room to grab yet another G. Lalo envelope felt like ripping dollar bills out of my wallet.  These things are expensive, and yet I was so determined to get it right.  I went back for round three, made sure there was PLENTY of wax, did the seal, and BAM!  Perfection.

I couldn’t be happier.  I can’t believe it took me this long, but I guess having the pressure of a real letter inside that envelope made me forget to check all the details.  Wax seals are fun – I love playing with fire and melting things, and using it in a cool-looking way is such a bonus.  I guess it could’ve been worse – I easily could have burnt a hole in my letter or even burnt myself.  Although I made mistakes, no one was hurt during the making of this seal… only a slightly crushed ego.

Take it from me – all you need to do is use plenty of wax and check the seal to make sure it isn’t upside down.  That way, you won’t burn through three G. Lalo envelopes for a tiny little client letter!

– Rebekah Goldman
Rebekah Goldman Photography