Last weekend I went to a craft show, and amongst the ridiculous amounts of dies I noticed a dip pen and wax seal stand. Wax seals have a sense of class, of authenticity, of originality, even in the electronic age. And I’ve wanted my own for ages (my faux ones still didn’t quite hit the mark), along with some of the gorgeous pens. But where would be the originality be in a mass produced metal wax seal stamp? It was at that point I thought – I could make my own, couldn’t I? Thus started another steep learning curve (in between doing all the glass etching).
I designed my seal using Adobe Illustrator, initially working in a 2.5cm diameter seal size. I used my Wacom graphic tablet to add my initials, converted everything to outlines and then used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the design from card. That didn’t work terribly well as the card frayed and didn’t cut cleanly at such a small size. Increasing the diameter of the artwork to 3.2cm/1¼” and cutting from layers of acetate worked better. I layered up the acetate using Glossy Accents to stick them together – the small outer lettering was two layers thick, the initials four layers thick and a filled circle at the top to keep it all in place.
I pressed it into the terracotta air dry clay to make the impression, made the clay dam and tidied the edges. I left it overnight and then in the sun to dry. The instructions on the pewter kit (Creativ Company) underlined it needed to be 100% dry… and the first one wasn’t, causing the part-molten cast to ‘pop’ out, flip over and land back into the now fractured mould – lesson learnt, and injury narrowly avoided. The second mould was air dryed initially for 10 hours in the sun, then in a warm oven for two hours and latterly in a desiccator at 70 degrees for two hours – and worked perfectly.
Whilst the metal was still molten, I held a screw (more or less) vertically with the head submerged, but not touching the bottom, until the metal solidified again (note – I used tweezers to hold the screw…). It was onto this I screwed a stripped down mini-blending tool to make my handle and complete my seal. I tested it with bona fide sealing wax, and gilded the set seal with a little Cosmic Shimmer Gilded Light Metallic Gilding Wax.
So labour intensive – but pleasing, and a half decent result. I’ll probably adapt the technique sometime next year once I have my 3D printer and can make more precise prototypes to take my mould from.