Monday, December 1, 2014

Review of J. Herbin's Supple Sealing Wax #JHerbin #Exaclair #Giveaway

Today, I'm reviewing the 4 pack of J. Herbin's Supple Sealing Wax.  Exaclair, Inc. has kindly  agreed to give packs to five (5) lucky winners.  Giveaway Now Closed!



Specs
Stick Size: 3 3/8 x 3/8 x 3/8”
Pack Size: 4 sticks
Available in 10 colors (this review is on Copper colored sticks)
Each stick produces 15-20 seals
Sold in packs of 4 sticks per color

Look and Feel
The supple sealing wax comes in packs of four sticks.  Each stick is smooth on three sides with the J. Herbin logo and ridges on the fourth side.






The wax feels slick but not quite slippery, pretty much like other sealing waxes, but there is a specific difference between this type of wax and traditional sealing wax.

  • There is no wick.
  • The wax is flexible, both in the original stick form, and after it has melted and hardened.

The wax is called 'supple', meaning flexible, and as you can see from the photo below, I was able to bend one of the sticks considerably before it started breaking.  If you do want to break it, applying pressure at both ends with a sudden snap does the trick.  The wax can also be cut, easily.



Melting the Wax
Since this supple wax doesn't have a wick, melting it becomes a little more difficult.  When you have a wick, you can light it with one match, and the stick will continue melting until you blow out the flame.  With this supple wax you need another heat source that will continue to melt the wax.

J. Herbin has some tips and techniques on their page 'How to Use Sealing Wax' page.  I tried several things myself--some not recommended by J. Herbin because I wanted to see what happened.  I'm sorry there are no photos for some of my experiments, but I just couldn't spare a hand for the camera when playing with matches!

My experiments and their outcomes:


  • Matches
    • Fingers got hot too soon
    • Couldn't light new match quick enough for a smooth transition
  • Fireplace Matches
    • Flame was too powerful
    • Soot got into the wax from matchstick
    • Wax sparked, carrying flame to paper
The spark always went out immediately when it hit the paper, but I found it startling, and quit using those matches, immediately.
  • Cigarette lighter
    • On-switch was too close to flame.  Fingers quickly got hot.
    • My arthritic hands found it painful to keep the lighter on.
    • Melted wax well. No sparks.
  • Candle-lighter
    • Manufacturer recommends leaving on no longer than 30 seconds at a time.
    • Flame very large.
    • My arthritic hands found it painful to keep the lighter on.
    • Wax sparked, carrying flame to paper
Any of these methods worked to a degree, but I found them cumbersome, uncomfortable and possibly dangerous.  I didn't like those sparks.

I never melted enough stick to get a stub, but it was obvious that when the wax stick got too short, there would be no way to hold onto it while melting it.  J. Herbin recommends heating the short stick and sticking it onto a new stick.  Eventually, you'd still have the stub of one stick left, though.

So I decided to do what I had planned all along--use my Ranger Art Melting Pot to melt the wax down and pour it.  Then I remembered that I had given my Melting Pot away because I'd never used it in the year I had it. Lol. What's that line about Necessity being the mother of invention?

People have been using double-boilers forever--you stick one pan over a pan filled with boiling water.  I didn't have any pans that I wanted to commit to my crafts, so I looked for an alternative.

I decided to try melting the wax in a spoon.  After breaking off a piece of wax and putting it in the spoon, I used the candle-lighter underneath.  The wax melted nicely and was easy to pour out.  The downside?  Soot built up on the spoon, and it got into the wax.  I kind of liked the black streaks in the copper, but it wouldn't be a good look for every color.

The spoon would work for one or two melts, but the spoon would be ruined (and I wouldn't use the spoon for eating with, even if you didn't get the soot build-up).  If you were only melting the wax once in a great while, this would be an acceptable method.



You can see the bits of soot in the photo below.



I wanted to get away from the soot, and it still hurt my fingers trying to keep the candle-lighter going. I went to a method closer to my double-boiler idea.  I put the wax into a metal lid that came off an old tin of tea leaves.  I poured boiling water into a mug, set the lid into it, and then covered it with an Amazing Mold Putty mold that I had on hand.



This worked well.  I did need to wipe the water off the bottom of the lid before pouring so it didn't drip into the wax.  The wax cools fairly quickly, so you still need to keep your projects fairly small.  Any wax not used can be left in the lid and remelted for other projects.

Later, I switched to a Tupperware bowl for my water.  It was larger than the mug and the tin floated in the water, instead of sitting above it.  The wax into melted faster.  There was a greater chance of getting water into the wax, though.

Stamping & Molding the Wax
The most traditional use of sealing wax is to seal an envelope, and then stamp the wax with a seal stamp.  Originally, this was to ensure that the recipient would know if the envelope had been opened--the wax seal would be broken.  The purpose of this particular blend of J. Herbin sealing wax is to provide a seal that will bend rather than break during the rough and tumble of modern mail delivery.

I felt I should put that to the test.

Today, the Post Office prefers you do not use sealing wax, but they don't forbid it.  They do ask that it be on the opposite side from the address and stamp.

I don't have a sealing wax stamp, so I poured some wax onto an envelope and used a rubber stamp. The stamped image is poor, but that was my fault--more on that later. After addressing the envelope to myself, I mailed it off.  It came back a few days later with the seal intact and unblemished.



For the stamped image above, I grabbed the first rubber stamp I could find.  It was unmounted--just a flat piece of rubber.  After I melted a puddle of wax, I couldn't find the stamp immediately and the wax had cooled a bit.  I hastily pushed the stamp in and then pulled it out.  Because the stamp was so flat, I ended up smearing the wax a bit with my fingers. Bad stamping technique.

I then read the J. Herbin's techniques and discovered that you should stamp into the wax and LEAVE the stamp there until the wax cools completely.

For my second try, I used a wood mounted stamp, so I'd have more control, Much better results all around!



For my next experiment I decided to try molding the wax instead of stamping it.  I used some Amazing ReMelt (a mold product that you melt and pour to create a mold, and then remelt afterwards for other projects) to mold some candy alphabet characters and a button.


I wasn't unhappy with the results, but the wax doesn't pick up all the detail.  Part of the trouble was that the wax cools so quickly.  If I didn't get the mold filled quickly, the wax would cool and wouldn't pick up the impressions.



 I discovered that the copper color was hiding some of the detail, as well.  After I buffed my wax piece with a colored bees-wax product more detail showed up.

I like the results well enough that I'll mold more of the wax, but you'll get the best impressions from stamping.


I like free-style abstract stuff.  During one of my experiments, I got distracted and let the wax cool too much before pouring.  The wax started getting stringy.  It didn't fill the mold properly, but created this cool stringy texture.  Although very thin in places, it hasn't broken yet.


I decided to try splattering some wax onto one of my abstract mixed media pieces.


And for one of my Journal52 art journal spreads, I poured the wax into the words 'Thinking of You' onto a napkin, cut them out and glued it onto the pages.  Then I used some E6000 glue to glue down some of the molded pieces I made.  The background here is decopauged white napkins rubbed with colored beeswax, so it all makes for a faux encaustic piece.

I think I need something better than my tin lid if I'm going to do much writing, lol!  Something with a spout would have given me much better control.


J. Herbin's Supple Sealing Wax will break, so I won't recommend using it a journal as I have done here.  On the other hand, I did this three weeks ago and I've deliberately been throwing the book around, using a band to hold the book closed tightly, and piling heavy books on it.  So far, none of the wax has broken, chipped or slivered.  Not even the stringy bits.

It is tough stuff.

Overall
Having a wick would definitely make this wax easier to use.  I like the strength of it though.  I'll probably get another melting pot for future use, but until I do my double-boiler method suits me.

Because it is necessary to use open flame or boiling water (unless you have an electric melting pot) extra caution should be used, and I wouldn't recommend this for younger children.

The extra strength and flexibilty of the wax makes it a good choice for the traditional envelope seal, as well as being suitable for other projects.  I used up about one and half sticks in creating these samples and experimenting.  While, I think it works best for small stampings and molds, refinement of the melting methods might make it more suitable for larger projects.

J. Herbin offers many kinds of sealing wax.  For the full list of their sealing wax products, check out the J. Herbin site. For more tips and recommendations concerning the use of  J. Herbin's Supple Sealing Wax, check out their How to Use Sealing Wax page.

Giveaway Closed

Disclaimer:  I received my pack of J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax from Exaclair Inc. specifically for this review and giveaway.  I was allowed to choose the item to be given away.  I'm excited about hosting this giveaway, but tried not to let it influence my opinion, and all opinions are my own.  I received no other compensation.

Handmade Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor journal #StonehengeAqua #Watercolor #LegionPaper

I have several watercolor journals, both bought and handmade, that I'm working in at the moment, and have absolutely no need for another...