This post is what we've learned about using wax on handmade paper to enhance its look, translucence, chroma, value.
The basic recipe we're currently (July 2019) settled on is -
beeswax, poppy oil and paint thinner (1:1:2) (see below for other ingredients tried)
We've tried this mix on abaca and cotton papers. The best results are with medium value cotton papers (rag or linters and short to long beating times.) The color is only moderately darker, but richer. Darker cottons go much darker and look wet. The effect on lighter papers is faint.
The current fav mix doesn't increase well beaten abaca's translucence, but it does remove the whitish look that abaca gets when not fully constrained. Color is also deepened without darkening much.
We've learned a lot, but we're not satisfied. We hope by publishing where we've gotten to, we'll attract some input from others on their solutions or experiences with wax on paper.
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. Woodworkers’ wax polish recipes have provided the most helpful leads.
We will add additional info as we get or develop some. Yes, we know: more and better photos would be nice.
What we specifically want to do:
avoid the results we’re getting now, such as:
the look of greasy french fries wrappers
yellowing from wax or oil used
paper that looks wet or much darker
paper that looks it’s been encased in wax like a glazed donut or a bug in amber
get the results we want for abaca sheets:
enhance the translucence of restraint dried, well beaten abaca
remove the white, dried out look that partially restraint dried abaca can take on
get the results we want for cotton sheets:
reduce the dried, almost dusty, pastel look of light pigmented colors and bring up the chroma in all colors
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 on the paper
excess wax can be removed without pilling or removing too much wax with a cloth, brush or dauber within the first few hours after application
The best formula so far?
Best RECIPE: as of July 23 2019
(parts by volume)
1 part beeswax (bleached white pellets, Jacquard)
1 part poppy oil (Gamblin artist medium)
2 parts paint thinner (Klean Strip, hardware store brand)
At room temperature, the resulting mixture is white with some translucence and the consistency of warm margarine. With good ventilation and a fan on high aimed at us, we put it on the paper samples liberally and wiped away extra after about half an hour. Allow to dry with ventilation. Wear protective gloves such as nitrile.
The sample looks wet and dark when first put on, but generally, as the days go by, the effect becomes more subtle as the solvent evaporates and the oil dries. nearby show 1-1-2 works best even when comparing a day old sample to ones several days older. The 1 beeswax-1 poppy oil-2 paint thinner formula is already more subtle, richer and lighter after a few hours than the 3 mixtures to the left done a few days prior. (The safflower oil is the drying kind from Gamblin)
NOTE: Since toxic and/or flammable chemicals are used and we don’t claim any expertise in their use or handling, 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 mixed together.
By all means, tell us if we are appear to be doing or suggesting something dangerous.
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, but haven’t tried it. It be worth trying on 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 first safflower oil used was grocery store kind. It does not dry. oops! The kind that does dry and the Poppy oil are from Gamblin $20 for 8.5 oz. Medical/beauty quality poppy oil is a lot cheaper, but we haven’t tried it since it is also may be a non-drying formulation. The photos at various sites also 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 emulsified beeswax
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.