View Full Version : Waxing Alternative Prints?

19-May-2018, 12:17
My advise is don't. I ordered a small can of Renaissance wax and applied it very softly with a clean and soft lintless cloth on two Kallitype prints that I had dry mounted on museum board. A small amount of the sentizer/toner came off on the cloth leaving two small but unsightly "smudges" in the otherwise dark sheen of a running stream of one print necessitating a reprinting of the negative. Although a tiny amount came off on the second print it is not discernable in the print. There is a slight increase in the dmax but not enough alone to warrant the risk. I applied the wax shortly after dry mounting the print so it is possible, I imagine, that the molecules were in a state of flux from the heat although I waited until the board had cooled down. I did test it on a much older throw-away print before applying it to the mounted prints and although a small amount of chemistry was deposited in the cloth no degradation of the print was noticed. The paper was Hahn Rag.


Jim Noel
19-May-2018, 15:57
Why do you dry mount Kallitypes, or other alt process prints? I think you will find most experienced workers never do so, I am one of them. I have only been doing alternative prints since about 1950 when I was making paltinum , not palladium prints.

Tracy Storer
19-May-2018, 16:26
I waxed salt prints in a workshop at George Eastman Museum last summer, the combination was beeswax with a little bit of lavender oil. It increased Dmax and added a depth that put the surface sheen somewhere between an unwaxed salt print and an Albumen print. You have to get the consistency right, too much oil and it just soaks the paper, not enough and you abrade the surface of the print.
We were shown 19th C salted paper prints from the collection that had been waxed or otherwise coated when made, the wax helps prevent degradation from atmospheric contaminants.

19-May-2018, 16:31
You would think dust would adhere to the wax making a gunk that can't be removed. And you lose the texture and finish of the paper.

19-May-2018, 16:32
I sometimes wax my prints with a genetic furniture wax. As Tracey noted, dmax increases a bit. A few more layers and I get a gloss that is somewhat similar to an air dried gloss fiber print after polishing it a bit. It can be useful, and indeed I can imagine waxing helps to seal the print and thereby increase its longevity. I don't particularly care much for the more glossy look, though, so I rarely do it. However, I never had any damage to the prints.

bob carnie
20-May-2018, 07:27
I bought wax once in the early 80's thinking it was a magic bullet... used it once or twice and decided that I would be happy with the surface each process gives.

Back then every lab that produced portraits was using a product called pro texture, this product was sprayed on and created nothing short of a spectacular finish for colour C prints... As time moved forward this protector actually
created nightmares for the image below and I have not seen people doing this since the early to late 90's

Today we see people face mounting to plexi, as well putting on cold laminates to inkjet prints. One of the most respected Gallerys in Canada will not accept any work done this way in their exhibits.
For me these after effects are good for contemporary work that is meant to hang on walls and be enjoyed by the general public. This work if fading in 30 years has done its job and pleased a lot of people
which is one of the great aspects of photography we love.

For collectable prints , I think no wax, no laminate nothing on the surface of the print is the best... I really like the way a multiple tri gum or gum over Palladium looks, on bigger prints the surface has a lovely matt surface and the combined thickness of the watercolour paper, Hahnemulhle Rag, or Arches Platine plus the soaked in gum arabic with pigment mixtures needs no mounting like larger silver gelatin prints.

So I say no Wax Please....

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
20-May-2018, 10:01
About 10 years ago I ran a few comparisons, and found that kallitypes with beeswax and lavender oil produced a more attractive surface and more dmax than Renaissance wax. Certain papers worked better with waxing than others. I can't recall all the specific papers now, but I do remember that Rising Stonehenge was beautiful waxed.

21-May-2018, 07:11
you might google encaustic painting - it have some insight if you want to pursue wax...


21-May-2018, 07:38
This may be off base. Decades ago, the 70's, I was reading an article about how old timers used to wax their prints. Not having any wax, I tried using Pledge, a furniture spray wax/polish on an old crap print. It was SW and all crumpled up. I sprayed the print and in seconds, the print straightened out and Dmax increased. I tried it out on a bunch of prints with the same results. After decades long hiatus from photography, I started back up, the prints still look good. This time I didn't have any Pledge, but I did have granite spray polish/wax, same results.

What I would like to know, will this harm the prints. Will this help anyone:)?

Ken Lee
23-May-2018, 03:40
I tried a number of waxes and discarded the notion when I realized that there is no guarantee against future cracking, flaking, fading or discoloration. I hung a few waxed image up on a wall and waited a few years to see how they fared... not too well.

Like Bob I ended up "happy with the surface each process gives". Once properly behind glass, matte images are closer in dMax to glossy images and are protected from the elements. Expectations beyond that, may be unreasonable and unwise.

23-May-2018, 09:06
This is the image with the waxing defect:


The smudge appeared in the extreme lower left corner which is in the shadow from the trees. IIRC there was a grittiness in that spot when I started waxing.


Drew Wiley
23-May-2018, 11:20
Sooner or later wax is going to attract dust n dirt. Renaissance Wax is better than beeswax; I've tested it on scrap prints. I test all kinds of things, and have come to the conclusion it's a bad idea in the long run. Pledge isn't a wax at all, but a vodoo mix of hydrocarbons containing silicone, and VERY bad for even wood. True print lacquers start to yellow and craze in a decade or two. Acrylic print sprays also have a down side on paper due to different expansion/contraction coefficients. That is the kind of problem oil painters are supposed to learn up front. I don't know why it takes photographers a century to figure it out!