Sealing a watercolour painting with cold wax medium – an experiment


I just spent a few hours this weekend experimenting with cold wax medium (by Gamblin) as a way to seal my watercolour painting.

I heard and read about this technique as an alternative to framing a watercolour painting which is traditionally framed and mounted under glass which is a costly undertaking.

After doing some quick research online, I was happy to see that it’s not a very difficult technique.

I first mounted my watercolour painting to a standard 1/4 inch hardboard (masonite-type) using the matte medium. I let that dry completely.

I recommend using heavy books as weights so that your paper adheres evenly and flat to your support of choice. Oh, and if you do that, please be sure not to have any matte medium going past your watercolour paper. You’ll definitely destroy the book cover jacket and the medium will probably not take the cold wax medium the same way and it will show in the final result. If your paper and hardboard are the same sizes that’s great 🙂 or simply cut your painting to fit the surface.

Next, I made sure to work in a dust-free environment. Although, that’s pretty impossible I tried nonetheless.  With a disposable latex glove, I simply spread a thin coating of the cold wax medium over my watercolour painting as evenly as possible. This time I spread the medium over the frame as well (not the sides – only the top surface). Again, if your paper fits exactly to your board, that’s great! I made sure I coated the entire painting (use a bright light to be able to see if you have missed any areas).

I then let this dry for a few hours but now I know overnight is best. When the wax isn’t tacky anymore, it’s time to buff the painting surface with a soft (again dust-free) cloth. I used a polyester type cloth and that seemed to work well. I’ll try others in the future.

Now, I used long even strokes but I suppose you can buff in a circular motion. I’m not yet sure if that makes a difference. I guess it’s up to you as to how much texture you want to see in the final result. More experimentation!

Here are some images of the final result. I do see some tiny specs of dust which is disappointing but heck, dust is everywhere 😦

I quite like the subtle shine and the texture it brings.

I think it was a success overall!

A close-up view of the cold wax medium result – I, unfortunately, don’t live in a vacuum chamber, hence the tiny specks of dust.
The experiment is done and I am happy!




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