Kay Collier, founder of Kathryn Hastings & Co, has been collecting antique wax seals for years and now curates and sells modern and antique wax seals, and also offers classes in using wax seals.

Sealing wax, once the realm of royalty, monks, and governments, used to protect and authenticate documents and correspondence, is back with an artistic vengeance. Wax seals have morphed from utilitarian to decorative, a way to add a personal touch to invitations, handmade cards, gift packaging, even corporate correspondence.

“There are so many ways people use sealing wax today,” says Janine Fraumeni, president of Freund-Mayer & Co., Inc/Nostalgic Impressions, which has been making stationery products since 1945. “Sealing wax is very ‘gifty’.”

Adding a personal touch

The popularity of wax seals as decorative elements has, ahem, waxed and waned over the years, but Fraumeni has seen an uptick in demand for upscale stationery, particularly for weddings, where seals are used not just on invitations, but on menus, place cards, gift bags and other party accoutrements. Nostalgic Impressions also does a big business in making family crests and other personalized seals.

“Wax seals add a personal touch,” explains Fraumeni, who took over the company reins this year when her mother retired. “They add style and flair. There’s a tremendous craft and talent aspect to it. It’s a fun, cool medium.”

Spellbinders Paper Arts introduced a line of wax seal related products in 2022 and found it so successful, they added a wax seal of the month subscription kit to their other subscription boxes.
The start of Nostalgic Impressions began in 1945, founded by German immigrant Harold Mayer, who imported fine stationery products into the American market. The company introduced sealing wax and wax seal stamps in the 1950s.
Betsy Goodman of The Letter Box, creates unique wax seals by embedding dried flowers in wax.

Slowing down and appreciating the moment

When the computer revolution struck, Fraumeni says her company worried that the digital age would kill the letter-writing business. But, she says, “it turned out to be the opposite. (People) like to go back and find comfort in the way things used to be.”

Whether creating seals by melting wax pellets over a tea light, dripping wax from a stick, or using wax in a glue gun, making wax seals “forces you to slow down and enjoy the process; there is no hurrying allowed,” which is part of the appeal, explains Kim Kesti, director, marketing & education at Spellbinders Paper Arts, a long time maker of paper crafting supplies.

Melting and pouring are therapeutic

In 2022, Spellbinders introduced a line of seal-related products, including stamps, dies, melting tools and wax beads. The collection was such a hit that Spellbinders added a seal-of-the-month kit to its line of nine other paper craft subscription boxes.

“Wax seals,” Kesti explains, “have the appeal of a time-honored tradition, but used in a fresh, modern way.”

Indeed, there are artists who create beautiful, tiny works of art by melting and pouring small amounts of colored wax into the seal crevasses, scraping off the excess, pouring another color, and repeating the process until they have a unique, detailed, multicolored wax design. And some found a business.

Rita Madsen of Strictly Rita has been playing with paper since she was a child so when she found wax seal videos from Kathryn Hastings & Co, she was “mesmerized.”

The melting and pouring of wax is “therapeutic and so relaxing. It hit all my buttons. Seals are like tiny works of art.”

But, she adds, “I never planned on turning this into a business.”

Honey Bee Stamps found sealing wax supplies a good addition to their stamp and die line. And if you want the look of a wax seal but not the bulk, try the photopolymer stamps with matching dies to create the look from paper.

In February 2002, Madsen started posting Instagram videos of herself making seals. Viewers began clamoring for the seals she was using, and in February 2023, she opened an online store “with all of my favorites.”

With her husband’s encouragement, Madsen placed a wholesale order, which she immediately regretted “when I realized everything that had to be done before opening a shop.”  She learned to build a website, take well-lit photos and videos, manage social media, send out emails, and figure out shipping. “I filed for my business licenses and tax ID numbers all by myself, and for a stay-at-home mom of six children, this was really empowering. There were bumps in the road, but solving problems and learning has been really fulfilling.”

            Her Instagram posts show her wax artistry and helped her business grow. “Adding new items was key,” she says. “Figuring out the right balance (between new items and old favorites) is important. You don’t want too much inventory, but you also want to have the inventory there when customers want it.”

Rita Madsen of Strictly Rita became entranced with sealing wax while watching videos of the process, but never thought it would become a business until people started clamoring for the seals she showed on her own videos.
Goodman, who started The Letter Box to sell lettering stationery kits, added wax seals to her line of subscription boxes. Making wax seals, she says, is very satisfying.

A top selling product

When Betsy Goodman started The Lettering Box six years ago, offering subscription boxes with stationery, lettering workbooks, etc., seals were not part of the package. But one Valentine’s Day she decided that including a few wax seals in that box “would be really cute.”

When she couldn’t find pre-made seals she liked, she made her own and started adding them to her other subscription sets. She also packaged some leftover seals for a craft fair where, much to her surprise, they quickly sold out, far outpacing her lettering kits. So she made more. And more, and “changed my business to revolve around wax seals, which is now the main part.”

“Wax seals are easy and satisfying to make and make a big impact on a card or gift,” says Goodman, who is on Instagram @bgoods.lettering.  “You just melt the wax, push in a seal, and it makes these beautiful things. And appeals to all ages.”

More paper crafting companies are adding wax supplies to their shops or even mimicking the look with stamps and dies.

“Wax seals are the perfect finishing touch to a card or to seal an envelope, and are so satisfying to make,” notes Kelley Kohout, customer care manager and content creator for Honey Bee Stamps, which offers seal-making supplies and stamps and dies for similar looks.  

“The history and nostalgia of wax seals, used for ages on paper, makes this a natural fit for our customers,” Kohout says. “Wax seals are easy to add to any project and the variety of colors and seal designs make it versatile for paper crafters. They add that little finishing touch that tells the recipient, ‘This is something special’.”

Honey Bee’s stamp and die set, Kahout adds, “gives customers who may be a little nervous about trying wax, a quick way to recreate that look.”

Spellbinders also has stamps and dies that offer a wax seal look, and sets that complement seals, such as long-stemmed floral dies for every season.

Wax seals, once an old-world addition for sealing, protecting, and authenticating documents and letters. But today they can be found on cards and invitations, place cards, menus, gift wrap and tags, art projects, packaging, party favors, and more.

The importance of writing letters

Kay Collier, founder of Kathryn Hastings & Co., takes the art of letter writing very seriously. She collects, curates, and sells modern and antique wax seals along with other writing supplies, posts about the importance of letter writing, and her videos and knowledge were cited by others as inspiration. “To me, letter writing is one of the most luxurious experiences on earth,” she says.

Collier, who finds “solace and tranquility” in letter writing, often uses antique seals from the 1300s-1800s to make her unique products, noting that “the symbolism of a wax seal could communicate hidden messages to the reader.”

While wax seals may have ancient origins, they are very modern. “If you have that good crafting imagination,” says Fraumeni, “it’s endless what you can do with sealing wax.”

Tips and advice for working with wax seals:

  • Sealing wax is not the same as candle wax.
  • Watch out for cheap imitations. Inferior wax, for example, may contain too much paraffin, which can bubble when melting, has a duller appearance, and won’t hold up as well in mailing. Inexpensive seal heads often have shallower impressions and less detail. So-called fire lacquer seals may include an alloy and wax may stick more to the head.
  • If using wax seals on the outside of envelopes to be mailed, they may require a postage surcharge, or may need to be hand-canceled instead of going through the postal machine. To further protect the seal, you can also put your “sealed” envelope in another envelope for mailing.
  • You can make seals directly on paper or other materials, but you can also make them ahead of time using a silicon or other non-stick surface and use a high-quality adhesive to attach them.
  • If you are new to seal making, practice. “It can take one or two tries to get a feel for how the wax moves when you press,” says Betsy Goodman. Kathryn Hastings & Co has an excellent informational video.
  • Antique seals may be made of brass, silver or stone, or even of semi-precious stones such as citrine, agate and amethyst, says Kay Collier. For more information about using antique seals, check out her antique seal course.
  • Don’t want to DIY it? Several companies offer premade self-adhesive seals.
Roberta G. Wax

Roberta G. Wax


Roberta Wax is an award-winning journalist and imperfect crafter. A former news reporter, her freelance articles and projects have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, from the Los Angeles Times and Emmy magazine to Cloth Paper Scissors, Somerset Studio, Craftideas, Belle Armoire, etc. She has also designed for craft companies. Although she has no art background she was a crafty Girl Scout leader. www.creativeunblock.com