I am not generally a product-driven artist. I use whatever, as long as it gets the art where it needs to go. But there is one that I really love, and that is Polyvine Varnishing Wax. I first learned about it when my mom and I traveled to Great Britain with a group of fellow needleworkers led by Gail Harker several years ago. One artist Gail brought to us for a lecture had used acrylic wax on some abaca tissue paper to make something that looked like an old oiled map. Sadly, I do not remember the artist's name, but I do remember vividly that little ping of epiphany that went off in my head when I saw what one could do with that stuff, and when we returned home, I set about finding it. That proved to be a bit challenging. All the coolest artists were using acrylic wax over there, but here, I could only find it on websites catering to faux finishers and woodworkers-- which is, after all, its intended customer base. Ha! Silly them.
So here is the low-down on this product: first of all, Polyvine Varnishing Wax is not a wax. It is a water-based clear coat that has a silky, waxy look resembling beeswax when it dries. When dry, you can burnish it to a lovely shine with cloth or very fine steel wool. It is not as tough as a regular poly varnish and will scratch, but this is not a problem unless one is using it for a table top varnish, which I am most definitely not doing.
It can be added to other water-based varnishes to impart a silky feel. You can add it to metallic paint (water-based) for the same reason. It does make any solid color more transparent, more like a glaze.
If you add it 50/50 to flat latex paint, it allows the paint to be sanded down with water to reveal the base color for distressing techniques. You know how latex paint has a tendency to roll up and crumble when you try to sand through it? This addition makes the paint stay put and you are able to sand it down to a feather edge.
So what do I do with acrylic wax? I love to use it to strengthen paper and to make it look translucent. I coated the pages of the book below with it to seal the drawings and collage. I also coated the cover with multiple coats of acrylic wax to secure the sewing and give it a nice finish. In the photo above, I am preparing "fabric paper" for the cover of a book I am currently constructing, using the acrylic wax to adhere paper to fabric, and decorative elements to paper. I don't use it for everything I do, but it is one of my staples for sure.
(click on photos for bigger view)