Monday, July 6, 2015

Love this Idea!

I like to use repurposed materials in my art classes. Often these materials are accessible and inexpensive. Over the past few years I have used clean garbage to make musical instruments, dried beans to make mosaics and this year pieces of discarded crayons were used to make these charming heart shaped crayons. 

Last summer I had an enormous amount of old crayons that needed to be repurposed. My students had fun experimenting with melting crayons. They each selected around 20 crayons and hot glued gunned them to a cotton canvas board. The crayon colors varied from person to person. One student chose all blues, another rainbow colors and still another chose earth tones. All the students had fun manipulating the melting crayon with a hair dryer. The results were fantastic. This summer I expanded their experimentation with melting crayons by adding a crayon made from a heart shape mold and by drawing with a crayon on top of a hot plate. Traditionally a hot plate is used to keep food warm. In this experiment put a piece of drawing paper on the surface of the hot plate then press down on a crayon as it moves around the paper. The heat of the hot plate (no hotter than a heating pad) makes the crayon glide across the paper. The results can vary depending on the user but I observed that the crayon looks like paint. 
Crayon drawing using a hot plate
One girl exclaimed that it looked like "liquid." Remember to always take precautions when using a hot plate with children. Safety is important and students should be aware that this is a hot surface.

The crayon hearts are easy to make. You will need a Silicone heart shaped mold or a mini-muffin tin. Take little bits of old crayon that are no longer useful and put them into the mold. Fill the mold shape up for desired thickness. The more crayon you add the thicker the heart. Use a variety of colored crayon bits. Put the Silicone mold or mini-muffin tin in the oven at 350 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. The crayons can go in the freezer if you would like to speed up the hardening time. When the crayon has become completely hard you can remove them from the mold. I think you will be surprised by all the fun you will have with your new heart crayon. As you crayon the colors change depending on how many colors you put in the mold. The color variations are endless! I learned how to make the heart shaped crayon from a teacher at the preschool where I work during the school year. She was kind enough to share these instructions with me. 

The three different types of melting crayon activities described above work well together. All of the them involve melting crayons using different methods - hot plate, oven and hair dryer - and the final results are all unique. It might be interesting to ask your students before they start each activity what they think will happen to the crayon and record their responses. Then after they have completed each activity ask them what they observed. Compare their before and after remarks.