Wednesday, December 10, 2014

personalized crayons.


This year, I made (or at least semi-made) all of my Christmas presents. How have I found the time, you didn't ask? Well, I haven't. I still have a ton more presents to make, but here's one of the finished products I have so far. (And in case you're wondering, I'm not so worried about ruining the surprise since these lucky little kiddos already got to open these during my family's early Christmas celebration.)

I usually tend to go for some type of theme, and this year, I did book gift sets. I read stories to Makai every night, and I know the importance of reading to your child at least once a day, so I thought books for the kids may be a parent pleasing and child friendly gift. But since kids don't usually get too excited about books, I thought I could throw a little something in for them. 

Makai and I recently started reading The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and I thought some of his similarly aged cousins might like it as well. Super fun/funny story that helps me reinforce learning his colors. For the young'ns, I found this adorable Mix It Up book by Herve Tullet (same author as Press Here) and thought it'd be cute alternative. Then to make it more of a set, I made little crayons in the shape of letters that spell out the kids names. Cute, right?? Crayon molding has been something I've been meaning to do anyway, so I thought now was as good of a time as any to make something more productive out of those broken bits laying around.


There's a couple of different ways that you can melt crayons down and mold into shapes (like here), but I decided to keep it pretty old school and use the oven. 

To do it my way, here's what you'll need:
  • crayons (obvi)
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • silicone mold of your choice (for letters, I used this, but recommend this)  
  • baking sheet 
  • toothpick (possibly)

And here's my step by step:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 225°F
  2. Cut and peel all wrapping off of crayons
  3. Using the knife, chop crayons into small pea-sized bits for even melting 
    • If you plan on doing this craft as a family affair with your kids, I would recommend pre-chopping the crayons and separating the colors out into separate cups (using a muffin tin or cupcake cups would be perfect). Then kids can use this to do step 4.
  4. Place bits into mold, mixing colors as you like. I prefer to keep them pretty simple with 2 colors each, but feel free to get as wild and crazy as you like and mix them all up! Just keep in mind that crayons have a tendency to mix and swirl a lot when melted. 
    • For this step, I recommend completely filling/slightly overfilling mold to get a good thickness at the end. If crayons end up too thin, it may be harder to separate from the mold without cracking
  5. Place mold onto baking sheet (for stability) and place into the oven for 10-20 minutes, until completely melted. I recommend checking on them at 10 minutes, and 5 minute intervals afterward. You want them just melted as opposed to sitting in there melting, mixing, and separating wax layers.
    • During the melting process, feel free to poke at them with a toothpick if you see any big chunks you want to push down.
  6. Once melted, pull out of the oven and allow to cool about 15-20 minutes at room temp. (Some people recommend putting them in the freezer for faster time, but I'd rather just keep them still to prevent over-mixing and just wait the 15 minutes. But hey, you're the boss here. Do both if you want!)
  7. Once completely cooled, slowly peel away sides of the silicone mold from the edges of your new crayon (some letters are a little trickier than others). When loose enough, push out the finished product and admire your handiwork :]
    • If you accidentally cracked a piece on the way out, don't you fret! I had to remelt a couple of mine for just that reason, and it seemed to have no real effect on the outcome! I just kept the cracked pieces in place, put them back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, and tried to remove again once cooled.


    Now if your wondering why I used a silicone mold but recommend a different one, it's because some genius decided to create the mold the wrong way. The idiot that I am didn't catch that until after I had already made my first batch of crayons and crayoned these suckers up. I just assumed that mold makers would know to make these backwards so that molded items come out the correct way. Plus, this was the highest rated alphabet silicone mold on Amazon! Not a single review commented on the fact that these were made the wrong way! blergh. That's what I get for assuming.

    So as beautiful as my finished product looks, I'm haunted by this backwards Z. UGH!

    So was it crazy messy? Not too bad. The key is to wipe up any crayon residue while melted. For surfaces, you can use a hairdryer to melt down any messes and just wipe clean with a paper towel. To clean out the silicone molds, place molds in the microwave for 1-5 minutes (depending on how stained) and while the molds are still hot and residue is all melty, wash thoroughly with soap and water. This should make them as good as new and free to use for any other crafts (including food related!).

    In general, I'd venture to say that crayon molding was a piece of cake and I ended up with a cute gift that I was pretty proud of :]

    So keep those broken crayon bits, or stock up on crayons during those school events and get to meltin'!

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