Full disclosure: While I do have a Pinterest account, I’ve poked around just three times. That’s right; I haven’t succumbed to the addiction of pinning. Quite frankly I’m not sure when I’d find the time.
One afternoon my farm princess lost her grip on her basket of crayons. It crashed to the ground, crayons rolling haphazardly into every room- crayons dating back to preschool days, glittered crayons, skinny Crayola Twistables, fat crayons and those off-brand packs handed out like candy at restaurants.
The enormity of her collection was rather shocking, so I turned to Pinterest for a a solution to this Crayola crisis. This was my third venture into the DIY world.
“What to do with old crayons?” I typed. Up popped thousands of pretty pictures of molded crayons, swirled colored crayons, crayon candles, canvases splashed with melted crayons, window art. Every craft promised fun for the whole family. Great kids’ craft!
I believed every ideal line, picturing my farm princess and me crafting a day of winter break away, laughing, bonding, oohing and ahhing over our creations. Maybe the farm boy would even pitch in. We would gift our fun, too-cute, Pinterest worthy creations to all the kids’ cousins. Bonus!
Day of one Christmas break dawned early. My farm princess and I cleared the breakfast dishes, brought out the crayon basket and began to sort by color. That seemed logical until we quickly realized that “sweet corn” was not an exact match to “parakeet” and “robin’s egg” was more purple than blue-ish. Which pile does that belong to?
With the crayons sorted, we did a quick grab of the best ones to keep for the kids’ home projects and began to peel the wrappers off the crayons. Not five minutes in, my farm princess begged for a break. The reality of ‘great kids’ craft!’ and ‘fun for the whole family’ came crashing in.
Folks, kids’ crafts require prep time. The prettier the Pinterest picture, the less a kid was probably involved. I’ve discovered working with my 4-H Cloverbuds and teaching students Ag in the Classroom lessons, a craft should take five to fifteen minutes with no wait time for the final result. Making old crayons into new sounds like a great idea, but this takes time that no kid has to give.
In an effort to spare another mother the fallout from a pretty Pinterest picture, I offer my guide to How To Make Old Crayons New with commentary.
- Old crayons, peeled and broken into pieces. Smaller pieces melt faster!
- 3 oz. Dixie cups or paper cups of similar size. Don’t use the ones with the waxy coating.
- Paper plate
- Candy molds and or cookie cutters (stars, diamonds, flowers, hearts; nothing to intricate)
- A lot of time!
1) Prep time. You must expend the time to prep the craft before inviting the kids to the table. Of course, the amount of time you spend prepping depends on the size of the project. If you’re just doing a few crayons, invite the kids in from the get-go. If you plan to mass produce (as I did), prepare first.
2) Sort crayons by color. Just throw all the yellow-orange in the orange pile and the blue-violets in the purple pile. We’ve got crayons that are blue to the eye, but purple to the paper and I’m sure its that violet hue showing through.
3) Peel off the crayon wrappers. Breaking the crayon first tears the wrapper and gives you something to rip. Otherwise, it can be a frustrating process particularly for kids. By this step, I had already lost my farm princess to a dance party.
4) Break each crayon into smaller pieces. The smaller the piece the faster the melt.
5) Melt. There are several options for this step. Some suggest filling muffin cups with the pieces and popping that right in the oven to melt. Or use a double-boiler on the stovetop and then pour the melted wax into candy molds.
The method I choose was to melt the crayons in Dixie cups in the microwave. Place three to four cups on a paper plate and start with one minute. Then work in 30 second intervals until every piece is melted.
The speed at which crayons melt depends on the wax used to make them. Did I figure out which wax melts the fastest? No. We did discover the color orange melted in less than 2 minutes versus some others that took close to five. Melting is another step in which you’ll lose the kids.
Melt like colors in the same cup. Swirled colored crayons are not made in the melting stage. Do not mix yellow with black. You’ll end up with black. Do not mix green and red for a festive Christmas mix. You’ll get brown.
5) Mold. We tried cookie cutters and candy molds. For cookie cutters, cover a cookie sheet with foil. As you pour the wax into the cutter, press the cutter firmly into the foil. Some of our well-used cutters were bent and the wax seeped right out the sides leaving us with a pancake crayon instead of a heart. The wax does cool quickly, so keep that firm press for a few seconds before letting up.
6) Cool the wax in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes. Anything less and you’ll be right back to crayon pieces. The refrigerator works too, just add 10 minutes to the cooling time.
7) Pop the crayons out of the cutters and or molds, melt wax of the next color and repeat.
My farm princess and I started this project at 7:30 a.m. and I was pulling the last of the molds from the freezer about 5 p.m. Of course, the day was interrupted by meal preparations, farmer-shuffling and cousin entertaining. I should have known those pretty Pinterest pictures couldn’t be made in an hour.