After travelling with the kids and getting those mini-crayon packs at restaurants, I started taking them home. I didn’t really want them, but the one-time disposable use of the crayons was bugging me and seemed so wasteful. My unintentional collection, added to a bag of crayons that my sister-in-law (with older kids) handed to me, prompted some hunting for crafting with crayons.
It turns out that if you’re not afraid of a little heat, there are some really fun crafts you can make with crayons. Our first project was to make Melted Crayon Rocks. First, collect some rocks. I have a friend who bought perfect white ones from a store, but I’m a hunter-gatherer type myself, and had picked up some smooth stones from our local beach. You can find a more fulsome explanation here, from the lovely Artful Parent (who we recently talked about here). But basically we heated up the stones in our oven until they were hot, placed them in aluminum pans which then went on a padded surface, and then drew away with our crayons. The heat from the stones melts the crayon upon contact, so the crayon glides right over the rock, and it feels more akin to painting than drawing on the rocks. We even had some crayons with glitter on them, which predictably made glittery rocks. Lots of easy fun.
Our next project was to make more crayons, but this time they’re Circular Swirly Melted Crayons. This is a particularly good way to use up bits of old crayon that would otherwise be thrown away. We had such a surplus of full-size crayons, that we broke up these for our craft. But we couldn’t really wait for natural crayon demise – we had two birthday parties coming up and wanted to make presents.
For this craft, you remove the paper from the crayons, place bits of broken crayon in a muffin tray (preferably one that you don’t want to use for muffins anymore – they’re hard to clean), and melt them in the oven. I think I put them in at 300 degrees for 25 minutes because I forgot to take them out after the intended 10 minutes. But this is not a precise matter: when they cool, they became beautiful new circular crayons, with mixed swirls of colour.
Finally, we made Melted Crayon Art Canvasses. This was so much fun. With our glue gun, we attached crayons to the tops of our canvasses. I had these lying around from some other undone craft project, but you could also use thick cardstock. Then we ran out of glue sticks. Happily, we had craft glue and that did the job just as well. Then we propped our canvas upright, set a hair dryer to a medium setting and applied the hot air to the crayons until they melted and dripped downward.
Both of my sons (6 and 4) who did this just loved it. They seemed fascinated with the way the crayons melted and blended into streams of new colours. At first, my four year old didn’t want to participate, but when he saw his older brother’s project melt into being, he quickly changed his mind, and then worked on his canvas for even longer than his older brother did.
There are so many tutorials on this last project that I no longer remember which ones I referred to, but there are a couple of things worth noting about this otherwise straightforward project. The first is that you should keep the paper on the crayons – it prevents the crayon from melting too quickly and losing its shape. The second and most important tip is to set your hair dryer on the lowest setting that will melt the crayons well. The higher the setting, the more chances there are for splattering the melted crayon around and off the canvas, especially at the sides. The third, related tip is to do this somewhere that can take some mess. I did this craft on our back porch for this reason; if you’re doing it inside, cover the wall and floor surface around your canvas. It’s not particularly messy, but hardened wax isn’t easy to clean up.
You can organize your colours into groups; I like the melted crayon projects I saw that looked like rainbows. But my boys weren’t interested in patterning, so they placed the crayons randomly, which still made for vibrant projects. And if you need an outward sign of approval to give this a try, you should know that when I wasn’t looking, my husband hung them up in our hallway.