View Full Version : Help!! SERIOUS wax bloom issue!!

12-30-2007, 01:11 PM
I just got back from my best customer's house, and saw that on a few of the pieces...but not all...that I did for him 2 years ago, have wax bloom..terrible.

I spray all of my pieces 3 times. I think the difference must be in the brand. Of course, I can't remember what I used when, I did his pieces over a period of months.

Anyone with pieces that developed wax bloom after spraying?

12-30-2007, 02:23 PM
Yes. The only thing you can do is take the picture apart, rub with a soft cloth, and then reframe them. It is very frustrating.

But your work is so good, that I can't see how the piece would dare develop wax bloom.

12-30-2007, 02:50 PM
Ha, ha!!! Thanks, Midge, you are so sweet!! What's scary is that I have more than a hundred commissions all over the country, I hate to think that they are wax blooming! I have pieces here that I won't part with that are 5 years old and they aren't blooming. I know I used Krylon uv on them.

Underneath the bloom, the colors were fine, they hadn't faded at all, btw, and one of them we took out of the frame because he wanted me to fix something that wasn't quite right.

So the bloom is the only issue. If I figure it out, I'm going to email all my "old" customers and offer to clean/respray them.

12-30-2007, 03:12 PM
maybe a silly question.

But what is 'wax blooming"
and what can be the reason?

Is it the same as oil paint 'cracking'

12-30-2007, 03:27 PM
I use Prismacolor Final Fixative (Matte) and have had good results so far. Have not experieced any additional wax bloom after spraying even after a couple of years. I have one piece I did in 2004 and it is still good.

dhara: Wax Bloom is a milky white haze that appears on the surface when you use wax based pencils such as Prismacolor especially in a heavy layer such as burnishing. It is mainly noticable on darker colors. Time and temperatures cause the wax in the layers of pencil you have applied to rise to the surface of the drawing and form a haze. You can use fixative to correct this during and at the end of the drawing, and you will notice that the haze disapears once you spray with the fixative and let dry. Oil based pencils do not produce this wax bloom.

12-30-2007, 04:40 PM
Robin, I couldn't believe you posted a thread with the word "Help" in it! All kidding aside...do you spray with workable fixative during the work, then spray with permanent fixative (laquer) when it is finished? It is hard to believe after 3 layers that there would be wax bloom.

Are all Prismacolors wax based? I'll have to check to see if mine says wax or oil based. I have not seen Prismacolor matte fixative, but I will have to look for it.

Thanks for the education about wax bloom, Ittybit. Thanks for sharing your problem with us, Robin, so that we all can learn how to avoid it, too.


12-30-2007, 06:47 PM
Oh, Char, we are all here to help each other, I hope!!

Yes, Prismas are wax based, and I burnish everything. What was funny was that not all of them "bloomed" even though they were done within weeks of each other. (I've done portraits of every dog this fellow has ever had, including the 2 I just finished, bring the total to 9!)

I don't remember if I sprayed workable fixative in between. I don't often. I do recall that around that time, I tried some of the fixatives folks here suggested, because there was criticism of krylon at the time. Maybe it was one of those experiments. But I think maybe I'll switch to the prismacolor one, maybe since it's made by prismas, it will work best?

12-30-2007, 07:41 PM
Robin, it seems like your problem might have been more with the fixative than with wax bloom. From what I've read, under certain conditions uv coatings can cause a "milky" or "hazy" appearance that could look like wax bloom.

I usually spray between layers with workable fixative to set the pigment and refresh the surface for further work, but I give the finished drawing only a light spray, if any.

12-30-2007, 08:29 PM
hmm if i read this i might get some better fixating stuff as well.

I use just simple hairspray to fixate parts of my drawing during my work process. I do not fixate at the end.
Sounds like not such a good idea to use hairspray since i do not know what it does with the wax.

Although the drawings 'smells' very nice :D

12-30-2007, 08:30 PM
A friend of mine had trouble with wax bloom. The culprits were the reds from prismacolor. She had sprayed hers at least three times. She had to take it out of the frame to respray. so far the bloom has not returned but she really resprayed it a number of times.

12-30-2007, 10:58 PM
Thanks everyone...I actually removed one of them from the frame. It's definitely wax bloom, I rubbed it right off. It was all over. But again, it was only a few of the ones I did. I always burnish, I'm sure that makes it more likely to bloom. I didn't use red on any of them, but did use a lot of the reddish browns.

01-01-2008, 09:42 AM
Question -- do those of you who use drafting film spray those pieces?


01-01-2008, 12:43 PM
I was wondering about spraying film, too - and would the spray change any film areas left bare?

Robin, thanks for starting this thread - and glad you were able to fix the bloom! - did you find any fading in your pieces?


01-01-2008, 01:36 PM
I always spray my portraits with workable fixative when finished, and sometimes, in between layers. After hearing that I should be using permanent fixative, I have used that on my last couple of portraits. (I'm going to buy some Prismacolor fixative, too). I am going to try the drafting film soon, so I would be interested in the answer to Linda and Holly's question about spraying film.


01-01-2008, 01:52 PM
If one wanted to test their pencils for propensity to bloom, do you think it could be done by making dense swatches and then putting the sheets in a warm oven for a few hours?

01-01-2008, 03:19 PM
If the white haze was caused by fixative, it would have showed up when you sprayed it or minutes after.

Burnished pieces made with prismacolors bloom... I have a piece I did in college YEARS ago and despite the fact that it has been wiped and resprayed several times, the bloom comes back.

This is a big reason why I started varnishing my pieces... and don't use prismas much anymore.

01-01-2008, 04:02 PM
Nicole, no, you are right...the bloom definitely was not caused by the spray, because I can wipe it off...Plus, I saw them in person at the "opening" he had to unveil them, and some of them were a month or so old at that time. It's the passage of years. And what exactly is the varnish you use? Is it a spray? I burnish EVERYTHING, just about. I am sick about this. Can I varnish over them even if they were originally sprayed? Do you think the varnish would protect even prismacolors?

Mahla, the one I unframed wasn't fading, and he has lights shining right on them.

Marie, I am not sure of the chemistry of it...if dry heat would speed it up. But for sure, it's prismacolors which are wax based.

Thanks everyone. I don't know anything about drafting film, but maybe not if they are fewer/thinner layers?.

01-01-2008, 05:43 PM
Well there are problems with varnish too... it can change colors of some pencils.

You can definitely spray varnish over fixative - actually that is what I would recommend. I always spray a couple coats of Lascaux Fixative and then spray a couple of coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish.

How it will hold up over the years though I don't know yet. As I just started using the method. It seems to completely stop wax bloom though.

01-01-2008, 08:18 PM
Thanks, Nicole. Lascaux is one of the brands I've used, maybe those were the ones that didn't bloom.

01-02-2008, 08:37 AM
Rating this thread... lots of good info.

About fixing on drafting film-- everything I've read/seen advises against it. And the few test swatches I did early on spraying with a workable fixative didn't go terribly well. It flaked off, taking some of the coating on the film with it. I'd be curious if a final fixative/varnish would do the same sort of thing... Since I'm using FC polys on the film (I like how they behave on it better than prismas), so wax bloom with it isn't an issue for me.

Nicole-- if you aren't using prismas much anymore, what pencils have you switched over to? (nice to "see" you here, btw~~ I've missed seeing your wip's :wave: )


01-02-2008, 11:46 AM
I'm primarily a painter and relatively new to CP's - I don't burnish and use Polychromos and Lyra - are they likely to 'bloom' with time?

I don't fix at all (I rarely fix pastels too as I like the finish unfixed so sort of carried on with the same way of working)

I often work over watercolour

bearded bob
01-02-2008, 11:51 AM
Interesting thread Robin. I have never heard of wax bloom after spraying, and repeated wax bloom some years after. How much pencil do you get on the paper?? I cannot see any bloom on my pics, some of which are 5 years old now.

As for mylar (drafting film over here) I cannot see that you will ever get enough layers onto it for wax bloom to be a problem. I would be very wary of spraying it as the solvents in the fixative could well attack the mylar and dissolve it. You should test this out first.

And as for hairspray - it yellows badly as it ages, so cannot recommend that.

Vivien, Lyra and Faber Castell are oil based, using a vegetable oil in place of wax, so you will not have a problem with these.

01-02-2008, 01:23 PM
thanks Bob :) I'll stick to them then

01-02-2008, 02:14 PM
You know Bob, *that* raises an interesting question - will the vegetable oil interact with the coating on film over time? I don't mean to overthink all this - it just seems that the stablity/life of cp work may also hamper its being taken 'seriously' if it isn't sorted out.

Nicole, thank you - I learned about Lascaux from you, and it's worked well so far.

01-02-2008, 03:46 PM
\How much pencil do you get on the paper??

Haha! Lots!

Hi Tess! I've been using a lot of Derwent Coloursoft (they work amazingly on sanded paper) and I'm experimenting with more!

I have some Caran D'Ache Pablo and Polychromos since Christmas!

Great Mahle! Ranjini put me onto it and I like the product too!

01-02-2008, 04:52 PM
I've always used Lascaux fixative, since the Krylon products are not available over here. Never had any problems with it.

Also, I prefer the Caran d'ache Pablos, Faber-Castell Polychromos & Lyra Rembrandts, over the Prismas or the Derwent Coloursofts now ... on paper or on drafting film.

IMO, there's so little layering on the film I can't imagine there would be much problem with the oil-based pencils, since there's also so little oil in them...

01-02-2008, 08:06 PM
Bob, on most of my pieces, I have no tooth left when I'm done. I don't do as many light layers as some people, on some parts I'm pretty heavy handed. But regardless, except for things like a cushion where I want some easy texture and therefore only do a few light layers, there's virtually no tooth left, so lots on the paper, with no specks of paper showing through.

I also have some old pieces that are here at home, with zero wax bloom or fade. I know I used the krylon uv on them. I just wonder if I was lazy and didn't make sure they were coated well, or in a hurry, which is more likely, that I didn't make sure to get a nice heavy layer on?

I think to be on the safe side, I'll get some oil based. By the way, one of them I used baby oil to blend the background, it worked great and that one does not have any bloom.

01-03-2008, 03:59 AM
Robin,this is such a great post.A lot of questions have been answered for me here.Very informative,Thanks for the post.