Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Twelve Days of Christmas Crafts: Day 2, Easy Upcyled Crayons
I've been meaning to do something about our unwieldy stash of crayons for some time. Now that the holidays are upon me, and I've been needing some gift ideas for a few of the littler people in my life, it seemed like a good time to spruce up our supply of crayons, and pass some of them along to friends.
First the kids helped me to sort the crayons into color families, and tear off the labels. We put them into plastic tubs, then the kids got bored and ran away from the table to pretend to go shoot each other, which for them was much more interesting that day than making crayons was.
Next I dug out some molds. The penguin ice cube trays you see above were pretty good, as were the flower molds I had left over from Charlie's birthday party when we made chocolate lollipops. The former are silicon and can go into the oven, the latter are thin plastic and cannot. You can choose molds of pretty much any shape, as long as you keep in mind a couple of things. First, think about shapes that will produce a crayon that is comfortable for little hands (or whichever size hands your crayon recipient has) to hold. Second, choose molds that are fairly simply shaped, so that when you attempt to pop out the crayon it doesn't break apart into lots of useless bits. Similarly, it needs to withstand the pressure of coloring without breaking into many useless bits. Hence our attempts at making crayons from these cool robot ice cube molds was a total bust.
For the molds that cannot withstand the heat of the oven, I put broken up bits of crayon in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I won't suggest times or settings because our microwave is so tiny and meek that it took five minutes on high power to melt about 10 broken crayons in a jar. I think a normal microwave would take about 2 minutes to do the same job, but who knows.
Using an oven mitt to remove the very hot glass jar from the microwave, I then just poured the melted wax into the molds and let them cool in the refrigerator. The downside of the melt and pour technique is that regardless of how many different shades of a crayon you melt, the color will blend and you won't get any of that swirly effect you can achieve when you melt in molds in the oven. Our robots looked very cool (before they fell apart coming out of the molds) because you could see the various shades of pink we used, and they would've colored in a cool, variegated way.
So here are a few of the solid colored crayons we wound up with:
Once you've melted and poured and cooled, you are done. Now you need to come up with some simple packaging. I opted for plain muslin wrap. I'm giving this batch of crayons to Michael's friend Leela. Usually they have play dates in the grocery store where her mom and I shop together (its more fun than it sounds), but sometimes they might want to color together.
Along with the crayons I'm giving her a little coloring book that my friend Karina makes and sells in her Etsy shop Windows of Agate. Check it out, she's got lots of adorable baby and kid gifts. You can also gift the crayons with a little Moleskin notebook (my kids each have their own to draw in-its kind of nice to get to draw on decent paper once in a while, even if you're only four), or a bunch of cut up scrap paper wrapped in a ribbon, or whatever else you can think of.