This post is inconclusive, but we’re stuck on the topic and want to attract some help.
We want to learn how to use wax on handmade paper (see specifically what we want to learn below.)
We can’t find anything useful on the web. There’s plenty on how to make your paper look like it’s encased in wax.
We’re publishing this post about what little we’ve learned, hoping that a like minded papermaker or craftsman (woodworkers’ wax polish recipes have provided the most helpful leads) might find it and offer some insight.
We will add additional info as we get or develop some and photos would be nice.
to avoid the results we’re getting now:
the look of greasy french fries wrappers
paper that looks wet or darker or as if it’s been petrified in wax
to get the results we want for abaca and cotton sheets:
enhance the translucence of well beaten abaca
remove the white, dried out look that partially restraint dried abaca can take on
for cotton, reduce the dried, almost dusty, pastel look of light colors and bring up the chroma some.
wax goes on paper easily with a cloth, brush or nitryl gloved finger
desired effect is attained by applying wax on just one side since for us it’s often not possible to reach the other side
no heat is required to apply, level or set the wax
excess wax can be removed without pilling or removing too much wax with a cloth, brush or dauber.
The best formula so far?
beeswax, poppy oil, odorless mineral spirits
equal parts by volume -
bleached white beeswax (pellets, Jacquard)
Gamblin poppy oil
odorless mineral spirits by Klean Strip.
At room temperature, resulting mixture is white with some translucence and the consistency of chilled margarine. We put it on liberally, but not “have a little abaca with our wax.” If at room temperature, leave it on a couple of hours, then wipe off. Next day, brush or buff more aggressively to get the effect you want.
On a restraint-dried abaca object made of single sheets (single or double couched), the recipe brings up translucence with some darkening but little greasiness or waxiness. However, for abaca objects of more than one sheet thick especially where there is some shrinkage, the wax does not penetrate and does nothing for translucence. It does take whiteness away and accentuates color temperature on the side applied.
On light colored cotton linters, lightly beaten, there was little difference. Neglible darkening, no change in color richness
NOTE: Since toxic and/or flammable chemicals are used and we don’t claim any expertise in their use, we will only specify our ingredients. Use this post for general ideas and only proceed with a recipe when you’re fully versed in how any materials chosen may be safely used together.
By all means, tell us if we are appear to be doing or suggesting something dangerous.
previous best formula - same as above plus 1 part paraffin wax (pellet, Jacquard)
What materials have we tried or hope to try?
mixtures: Renaissance Wax, Dorlands Wax Medium
Both seem possible solutions though they each need something else - oil or solvent - to help with penetration. Ren Wax looks wet and shows some yellowing.
waxes: beeswax, paraffin, soy, carnuba
first 3 are from Jacquard while carnuba is from Oslove and is T1 food grade. Beeswax and paraffin work together, but we think beeswax is better alone. Paraffin alone seems to whiten and cake a bit. Though it can pill and flake off, it will still leave a useable patina of wax on the surface. Carnuba wax is yellow, so may work, but only for dark colors.
oils: safflower oil, poppy oil
Poppy and safflower are supposed to be the least colored (ie, least yellowing) of the drying oils commonly used as artist mediums. The safflower oil used was grocery store kind. It does not dry. oops! Poppy oil is from Gamblin $20 for 8.5 oz. Medical/beauty quality poppy oil is a lot cheaper, but we haven’t tried it since the photos at various sites show a range of color from an almost colorless yellow paleness to strong translucent yellow.. IOW, don’t buy sight unseen.
solvents: odorless mineral spirits, xylene (from crude oil), turpentine (from tree sap), smelly paint thinner (all Klean Strip from the hardware store)
other: water and borax to make an emulsifying wax (No good for paper, but if you’d like some really, really thick and white face cream, you’d be covered.)
DISCLAIMER: Our understanding of and patience with scientific method is on par with that of a fourth grader.