I receive a lot of questions about how to waterproof paper (and, more importantly, the calligraphy written on it!), so I thought I’d address a couple of ways to go about it in this blog post! Today, you’ll learn a couple of different ways to waterproof paper/envelopes; and we’ll also discuss whether waterproofing is vital to your envelope calligraphy endeavors.
Is It Necessary to Waterproof Paper and Envelopes?
Truthfully, I very rarely waterproof the envelopes I send out. I know that a lot of people are worried about sending envelopes that have addresses written in water soluble inks, but the truth is that the envelope would need to get very wet for the address to run. For example, check out the Beth Style and Sans Serif envelope below; it was written using the watercolor calligraphy technique. I put a few droplets of water on it to emulate rain.
I let the water droplets run down the envelope.
What I discovered was that the envelope displayed very minimal smearing. You can see that the “E” in “CENTRAL” has something just a little bit weird going on due to the water exposure, but it would need to be pointed out to notice it.
The envelope actually fared very well against the water droplets, despite the fact I did not waterproof the paper.
In short, it’s my opinion that you don’t need to worry about your envelopes getting ruined by moisture. I mean, if they get soaked enough that the ink runs, then you’ve probably got bigger problems, like a damaged inside. There are probably people out there who have had bad experiences with ink or watercolor running, but I, personally, have never experienced any issues with sending non-waterproofed envelopes. That said, I do think it is important to know how to waterproof paper if you want to give it some extra protection! To that end, we’ll talk about two ways to go about it: Microglaze and a spray fixative.
Using Microglaze to Waterproof Paper and Envelopes
Have you ever heard of Microglaze? It’s kind of a weird, Vaseline-y type substance, but it’s also super-effective in making sure your calligraphy is impervious to all forms of moisture. As you can see in the photo above, the droplets of water are just sitting on the surface of the (Microglaze waterproofed) envelope. As you will shortly see in the demonstration video a few paragraphs down, if you tilt the envelope, the water rolls off, no big deal.
I always apply Microglaze with my finger, though I suppose you could use a cloth instead. Basically, you’ll coat your index finger with a little bit of Microglaze, as shown in the photo below.
Next, rub the Microglaze all over the surface of the envelope. The goal is to get a very thin coating of Microglaze all over the envelope; if you apply too much, the Microglaze will make the paper look shiny. As a side note, you’ll want to make sure your calligraphy is completely dry before you apply the Microglaze — otherwise, it will smudge!
Once you are finished applying the Microglaze, you will notice that that paper has taken on a bit of a glossy sheen when held in the light. This sheen will lessen as the Microglaze has a chance to dry, but it will never completely go away; that’s something to keep in mind.
That said, it’s easy to forgive the sheen when you realize just how well the Microglaze manages to waterproof paper! Check out the water droplets on the Amy Style envelope below; that water is no match for Microglaze!
I know that the concept of Microglaze is a little bit strange, so I made a video to show you how to use it and how water interacts with it!
Using a Spray Fixative to Waterproof Paper and Envelopes
From the condition of the can pictured above, you can see that I’ve had my spray fixative for a long time! I use it every now and again to protect artwork and calligraphy, but I don’t use it often. To be honest, the warnings on the back scare me a little bit; most fixatives are extremely toxic, and you need to apply them in a well-ventilated area (preferably outdoors). The plus side of using spray fixatives, however, is that you can waterproof a lot of envelopes at once. The envelopes will smell a little funky for a day or two after applying fixative, but after that, they’ll be fine and ready to send out!
I applied fixative to the Kaitlin Style return address below, then I dropped water onto it as an experiment.
The spray fixative did a great job of protecting the lettering from smudging due to the moisture!
While spray fixative is great for protecting lettering, I do have to say that it doesn’t give the envelope the same “water rolls right off” super powers that Microglaze does. At that same time, a spray fixative doesn’t compromise the sheen of the envelope — which is definitely a good thing!
I do want to add a disclaimer here that, in rare cases, spray fixative can change the color of envelopes. Before you use a fixative on a lot of envelopes, especially if they are for a client, you’ll need to test the fixative on one envelope to make sure the fixative is compatible with the paper.
While this blog post shows you two ways to protect your calligraphy from water, I want to emphasize that in many cases, waterproofing your envelope calligraphy is not necessary. If it makes you sleep better at night, then by all means, waterproof your calligraphy! Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it. 🙂
If you have any questions or input, please don’t hesitate to comment! I hope you learned something from today’s post, and I really appreciate you reading TPK. Have a great weekend!