Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Heat Is On: Melted Crayon Art

I know I said I was taking a blogging break.... and really, believe me.. I am...... BUT we did this yesterday and I have been flooded with so many questions and comments about it, it will seriously take me much less time to blog about it than answer everyone individually.... So here goes... and then, I'm back to my break ;).

I was inspired by a lot of posts on pinterest and even some videos out there for this. I love the idea of crayon melting down on a canvas, but what I didn't like about it was how structured the process was. It was way to product orientated, and you know me.... I like a good product, but the process for children is SO much more important! 

During a recent training, I shared this idea with some other early childhood professionals, where you could glue the crayons anywhere you wanted before starting the blow dryer. Yesterday, we took the step of gluing the crayons away.....
The only reason you need the crayons to be held in place is to allow the heat from the blow dryer to concentrate enough in one spot to get the crayons to melt. So, instead of gluing them down we used a screwdriver to hold it in place. You could use all sorts of different things, but we have a lot of screwdrivers, and they were handy, so that's what we chose to use. We only had the screwdriver there until the crayon started to melt.  Here is a video- a couple minutes long, but so worth the watch! Be careful, the giggles are contagious:
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As you can see, providing the children with the opportunity to add colors where they want and to allow the melting crayons to roll make this a much more child centered activity, the process is so much fun! One of my little ones spent 1 1/2 hours perfecting this process yesterday!!!! AND we are going to try some more this afternoon by adding more blow dryers to the mix!

We also tried this on a spinner....
We had to adapt our spinner to hold a larger canvas. So, we took an industrial sized toilet paper tube and taped it to our spinner with duct tape. Then, we set the canvas on top.
It was hard to keep the crayon in place, even with a screwdriver.... Perhaps if you use this method, the glue would be best. However, know that you will have a glue spot remaining when all of the wax crayon melts and moves!  In this experiment, the children decided to add some markers and some colored water to the mix. (Again, let them explore, add different medias.... remove as many limits as you can!)
Some of the most common questions I have had in regard to this process:

1) How hot does the wax get? Well, hot enough to melt. It is the combination of the heat and the force that cause the wax to move. It does not get hot enough to burn you.

2) What kind of crayons did you use?  We used all kinds of odds and ends of crayons, no particular brand. You will notice that different brands of crayons melt differently. That is all part of the fun and exploration!

3) Is it a regular blow dryer? Yes! I only own a blow dryer because there are so many cool projects you can do with them ;).

4) What kind of paper did you use? We used canvas. I bought them in a 3-pack from Walmart for about $9.00. We initially did this as a group project, so it wasn't too expensive to do. You could also use a hard card stock, or recycle cardboard.

5) Will regular paper work? I don't know. We didn't try it. The only way to know is to try. My guess is no. The reason behind it is that children will want to keep adding color and I don't think regular paper is strong enough to stand up to the weight of the crayon and the force of the blow dryer. Our canvas has spots where the melted crayon is somewhere between 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

This is the one that I played with, and because the wax will resist water based paints.... when I was done, I added a variety of yellow paints to the edges and wiped down the wax!  There are so many possibilities with mixed medias!

I can almost guarantee you that the blow dryers are going to be one of our favorite tools of choice when it comes to art! I bet different kinds of paint would be really fun to blow around too!!!!

Stop by our Facebook page to check out more of our photos!

Happy painting.... and now, I'm going back to my break! I have some research to catch up on!

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Laura said...

Oh I really like your take on the melted crayon art. I think these turned out really pretty.

Play for Life said...

I would need to take break from my break to show this idea off too Amy ... It's very cool indeed. And you're right ... Your way is so much more child oriented. I LOVE IT!
Donna :) :)


That was a QUICK break!
The wax crayon melt on paper looks wonderful! What sort of paper did you use? Would a heavier paper be better so the waxed surface, once the work is complete, will not be cracked when the paper is moved?
Thank you Amy, for all your endless inspirational ideas with kids!!!
Cathy Turner

Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

Thanks Laura and Donna :).

Cathy- I would recommend canvas or heavy cardboard. The wax does tend to get quite thick, and I think regular paper would probably tear. You might even be able to use scraps of wood.

Brooke said...

I love the spinning!

Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree said...

This sooo Great! You really pushed the boundaries with this! I wonder what else can be done with this idea? Thanks for sharing your experience!

katepickle said...

this is WAY cool!!

Unknown said...

That is fantastic!! We tried a similar experiment recently where we melted crayons on our george forman
here's a link that may or may not work...
I'll try this method out and send you a link to it when it's up :)

Sarah said...

Those look really neat!

Scrap-Happy Mama said...

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing! Will be giving this a go with my little guys and possibly an art class in the future. :)

beanersaurus said...

My bf Matt and I make custom melted crayon artwork. If you'd like to check it out, here's a link: - Thank you! :)

Rebecca said...

excellent it

Shawna said...

Ran across your site while researching stepping stone creation info - thank you VERY much for that, by the way, I'll be linking up once we have our project underway...

And discovered this page, and thought I'd mention, in case you hadn't tried it - years ago, when my kidlets were in daycare, one of the projects they did were to use the large, flat, electric griddles - the kind that have the wide, non-heated plastic sides - with aluminum foil taped down on them. And the kids colored/drew/melted crayons onto them. Simple, reasonably safe with careful one-on-one supervision, and the kids *loved* it.

It never grows old... there's just this fascination with melting crayons that kids love... lol.

I made the "mistake" of mentioning it not too long ago, and came home to multiple artworks and the smell of hot crayon, and mine are now 10, 12, 14, and 16!!!

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 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...