"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Melted Crayon Art

Okay, I'm just going to come right out here and say it: this is by far the coolest craft I've ever done. It's just as easy as you'd think it would be. I am seriously proud of these finished products.

So if you're on Pinterest (if you're not, what the heck is wrong with you??) you have seen these crayon art pictures being repinned for quite some time now. I finally looked at one of the tutorials and decided "Yeah I could totally do that." And lucky you, I'm going to include a lot more instruction and helpful hints that I sure wish someone had told me before I started spraying colored wax all over the dining room.

Step 1: Procure Crayola crayons, canvas and a hot glue gun. How many crayons do you need? Turns out about half of what we bought haha. My good-sized canvas only needed about 75. Brian's littler one about 40ish.

Done and done.

Vivienne, overseer of craft time. "You're doing it wrong human!!"
Alternatively, "I hate those colors!!!"

Step 2: Lay out the crayons in the color order you want. I am neurotic and a little fixated on rainbow order so that's what I went for. However, I also wanted to make sure that each color was a gradient from dark to light: THIS TOOK FOREVER. And even after I thought I had it pretty well laid out, I decided to go back through each color family and color on a piece of paper to see if I truly had them in dark to light order.

Really annoying, but if you're OCD, a must.

I also suggest laying them against your canvas so you know if you have the right number.

Step 3: Hot glue the crayons to the canvas with the flat end of the crayon flush against the top of the canvas. It's up to you if you want the Crayola logo out or hidden. I think it personally gives the piece a more methodical, uniform look at the top above the craziness of melted color. If you choose this method, a strip of hot glue down the seam to the crayon wrapper will be perfect placement. Another tip: adhere the crayons from the side. So instead of looking straight on to the canvas, turn it to the side so it's like you're stacking the crayons on top up each other up the canvas. This will help you keep them straight (as long as that first one is on straight!). The first canvas I did I was looking straight on and a few are just ever-so-slightly crooked. This makes me twitch a little but besides BRIAN who so helpfully pointed out the slant, I'm sure nobody will notice.

Add crayons from this end!

Step 4: Rig up a way to keep your canvas upright so you have both hands free. Lay down some garbage bags if you're inside. Here's a tip: melted crayons splatter. My one garbage bag was NOT enough. I would basically suggest that if you have a garage or unfinished basement: use it!! Our dining room came out of this project unscathed by the skin of my teeth (and probably some magic).

Brian can be very creative when he wants to get out of doing something...

Step 5: Get an apron (did I mention that the melted wax will spray?) and a hairdryer and put it on high. At times I tried a more medium speed but it's honestly just not hot enough to really get the crayon flowing. Holding the hair dryer an inch or so from the crayons worked well.

I suggest keeping the hairdryer as perpendicular to the canvas as possible.

Hard at work. This is really not an appropriate place for this project...
Some tips: 

When you hold the hair dryer that close to the crayons, the air is pushed all over the place. Feel where the air is going so that you know what will be melting. I was surprised at first that when I would have the heat directly on the blues the greens would be melting like crazy. By feeling where the air is you can kind of direct what is melting. Pretty cool.

Another thing about the direction of the air: you can create some cool splatters across the canvas. These were unintentional (and slightly alarming!) at first, but it's a very cool effect.

As the wax starts to build up and cool (this happens very quickly), you can heat that buildup of wax back up and have it travel further down the canvas.

You are really using VERY little of the crayons so heat away for awhile! You're not going to run out.

An interesting technique I realized at the end: If you slowly move the hair dryer across ALL the crayons back and forth (over and over) you can create a really steady stream of wax that doesn't build up all that close to the crayons. Once there is a buildup you can heat that line and have it travel even further down the canvas.

Sometimes when you have the hairdryer directly on a section you can see it melting but because of the air flow it's all getting pushed upwards. Sometimes I would let the hairdryer sit on a section for a couple seconds then pull it away and all the melted wax would run down.

And finally the finished product!

Except it wasn't REALLY the finished product. 

After looking at a couple other pictures of these online today I realized that I really didn't melt the wax far enough. I thought some white space would add some artistic, interesting dimension to it, but I was wrong. So today I got it back out (cut up two more garbage bags for good measure) and reheated the built up line and more of the crayons from the top. THEN, I got a beautiful finished product that I am just so happy with!!!


I was so excited I made one for Brian too, with blacks/grays and greens for my Cavalier. :)

He wanted his vertical and REALLY melty.

I really felt like I got the hang of this with Brian's. See how there's quite a bit of distance before the build up starts? That's because I started going back and forth across slowly and steadily.

The other cool thing about these is they're pretty much ready to hang immediately. The canvas might be warm for a minute but the wax is hardened and cool in seconds. Ours are above our desks right now as a source of constant crafty, creative inspiration.

So here's some good news: Michael's is having a 40% off sale on all their canvases this week! So if you want to do this at some point in the future now is the time to go get some canvas. If you go to their website you can also download a 40% off coupon to help with the cost of crayons.

Total project for two canvas and a ton of leftover crayons: $60. (Total cost of artwork I originally wanted above my desk? At least twice that hahaha)

And, if I may, I would like to discuss crayon colors for one second. I was ASTOUNDED to learn that there are about 1,000,000 colors of crayons now. What happened to "purple" and "orange"? Now there are things like "Purple Heart" and "Macaroni and Cheese." Seriously? I was also annoyed by "Shadow" and "Manatee"--it's called GRAY people!!

P.S. I also as a matter of principle didn't use Cornflower Blue--the most awful blue ever created. You think you've picked up a nice dark blue and it ends up being that ridiculous super waxy light blue that barely leaves any color behind. It felt wonderful to finally put that crayon in its place by excluding it from my cool wall art.

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