By LISA HENSLEY
If you’re like me, having kids gives you a really good excuse to buy things like markers, fingerpaints, watercolors, coloring books and crayons. Coloring is really very soothing to me, especially when my boys have gotten too wound up and we all need a quiet activity to do together. (If you guessed that we must color a lot, you guessed right. At least I do, anyway.)
Anyway, if you’ve bought more than one box of crayons, you’ve probably accumulated assorted crayons that still have some life left, but aren’t necessarily in their prime. And by ‘prime’ I mean worn down to rounded nubs only good for scribbling or broken into hopelessly small pieces. Why throw them away? You can repurpose them into new crayons that frankly, are works of art in their own right.
To start, you’ll need at least 5 or 6 crayons of different colors—the more, the merrier. You’ll also need a mold of some kind. I used some silicone muffin cups that I bought long ago, but stopped using after realizing it was easier to clean the muffin tin than ridges in the silicone cups. You could also use glass votive holders, as long as they have straight sides or are wider at the top than the bottom.
Next, you’ll need to strip all those less-than-perfect crayons of their paper jackets. Unless your crayons are the jumbo-sized ones, the bulk of this task will probably fall to you—my kids made it through approximately two crayons before giving up. Plus it kinda takes someone with fingernails to at least get the unwrapping started. Once the crayons are unwrapped, have your kids sort them into piles of similar colors. Always look for the learning opportunities, right??
Choose 3-5 crayon pieces per cup, depending on the size of your container. You can get crazy with your colors, or stick to similar tones. You won’t want to combine too many different colors though, in case they all run together and make a weird brownish mess.
Warm up your oven to 350 and place your melting containers in the spaces of a muffin tin or on a metal baking sheet. Pop them in the oven and watch through the window. You’ll want to get them warm enough that they lose their shape, but not warm enough to completely mix the colors. Five to 7 minutes should do the trick.
Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely. We let ours sit for about an hour. If you use glass candle holders, pop them in the freezer for about 30 minutes (cool them completely first!!), then turn them upside down to release them.
The finished product is almost too lovely to color with, all swirly colors and smooth surfaces. I’m considering putting our handiwork on display in a shadowbox…oooh, art supplies as art! Would that just complete the repurposing cycle?!?
Lisa Hensley is a mostly-native Montanan, living in Missoula with her husband, two young boys, two cats (boys), one tiny dog (a girl!) and 4 fish (probably boys). She spent more than 10 years in the Marketing and creative field, but is now Director of Household Operations for the Hensley group. When she’s not herding kids or doing laundry, she’s shooting photos, gardening, baking, reading or taking classes—sometimes all at once. She serves on the Board of Directors for Home ReSource, which fits in nicely with her tendency to repurpose pretty much anything.