Holiday Crafting: Recycled Crayons

December 3, 2010

A few years ago, after purchasing a box of crayons only to discover that everyone of them was missing a tip, I learned how to recycle them. The idea of melting down a crayon is actually, when you think about it, rather practical and ingenious.

The first time I ever tried to do it I apparently melted down colors that, when blended together, formed the ugliest shade of brown. After a few more tries, and a lot of fun, the colors started to improve and the kids had a ball collecting old pieces and watching them transform into new life. As simple as recycled crayons are, they do teach a great lesson to young children about the power of reusing something that has not yet reached the end of it’s usefulness and viability. 
I try, as much as possible, to not limit my children’s joy of the holidays. Even though I often feel caught up in the chaotic pace of this time of year, I also remember the amount of joy that my parents created for me each season, and I know that there is much happiness to be found amidst the frenzy. One thing that I do hold to be important is that the boys make their own gifts. As of yet the conversation of shopping for a present has not come up, which I am eternally grateful for, but I know the day is coming. 
This year, the boys decided on recycled crayons in the shapes of evergreen trees and snowflakes, and gingerbread people and stockings as gifts. They each wanted to put together a few “art kits” that included the crayons, handmade sketch books or puzzle books (more on this later), and paper that, as we speak, is drying on the dining room table. 
Over the Thanksgiving holiday the boy’s were delighted to have their cousins visiting from Maryland. Savannah, Jacob and Elwood spent many an hour creating in my kitchen, and the large autumn crayons that they made were a hit with everyone. Using Wilton molds that I found buried deep in my pantry (have you ever had a situation where your shelves were so crowded that you climbed up to get something, everything fell and hit you in the head, and then something that you never thought you would use all of a sudden has a purpose? These are my silicone molds), we made crayons in the shapes of pumpkins and leaves. The colors came out awesome, the molds make popping the crayons out a blast, and they are easy to clean up. 
We moved on to the holiday molds soon after, and now we have everything ready to give as gifts to all of the boy’s friends. The crayons have been packaged in muslin bags and hand stamped for some flair, and the kits will be tied together and delivered in the coming weeks. I made sure that we made enough to have some left over to use for holiday fun, and I hope that it is okay to admit that I enjoy coloring with them as much as the boys do. 
As a bit of a secret (this is probably a very commonly used trick, but humor me in thinking that I came up with something cool), these crayons are wonderful in creating background on paper. The flat surface of the crayon provides a smooth look to the paper, and does not come out too dark. The boys love the multi-colored effect that it has, and they used the crayons to create many of the “blank” pages in their journals. 
It is an easy craft, a fun way to spend an afternoon cleaning out your art closet or basket, and a great lesson in sustainability. Really, is there much more that we could ask for in a holiday gift? 
Stephanie from Somewhat Simple published a how-to on recycled crayons in the Autumn edition of Rhythm of The Home, and Ginny of Small Things has a great tutorial for painting with melted crayons for a bit more fun. 


Happy Friday! 

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Home Baked December 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Your crayons are beautiful! I really like the holiday shapes. What a great gift!

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pomegranategrl December 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm

They are FANTASTIC gifts! They are what I am working on for Christmas as well! I got 160 crayons melted down so far.
http://www.thepomegranatechronicles.com/handmade-

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Luisa December 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm

That is awesome! Oh we have all seen the crayon melts but not like this! I never thought of different shapes to make it more festive. How creative. I may try this eventually. I have done crayon molds to give with a clipboard as a birhday gift like this http://thislittlekitchen.blogspot.com/2010/02/cra…. Sorry for that plug.
I'll probably link your post on my Monday list.
Happy Friday!

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MamaBird December 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Your crayons are beautiful! We made heart-shaped ones for Valentine's Day last year… I'm feeling very inspired to make holiday ones now. And I love the idea of making a little art kit for a complete gift. Thanks for sharing!

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GinnySheller December 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Heather, we did this yesterday! My older kids made a set of heart shaped crayons for Bea for Christmas. So a very similar bunch of photos will be appearing soon on my blog :)

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Andrea December 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm

These are so cute and fun! I'll have to keep my eyes out for 2nd-hand molds. I think the idea of children creating the gifts they give is wonderful–I only started it with them last year, but I hope their enthusiasm (and mine) for making handmade continues through the years.

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Grace December 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I love this idea and when my little neice is old enough, we will definitely have some creative time together trying this out! Leo at Zen Habits just wrote a brilliant article called "The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents". Your values seem to mirror his ideas, so I thought you might be interested in checking it out. http://zenhabits.net/ Happy Holidays!

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Angela December 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Your crayons turned out wonderfully. So far mine have been duds. I like how you use your silicone molds. I have that exact same tree mold! My kiddies are older and they go to a public school so I have to hear all about people buying gifts etc. I do have them making things for each other. Now if I could just get the outside world to slow down so that we can be home for more than an hour at a time. Hopefully this weekend . . . . Peace, Angela

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Lisa Q December 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm

what a fun project…and so giftable. I love it. I'll need to dig through my cupboards to find my sillicone molds now! Thanks Heather!

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Its_Lily December 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Heather – what a nice way to put those darned silicone molds to use (I refuse to use them for baking), use up some of the bajillions of crayons we have in the box, but mostly it's a wonderful gift for the littles to give to their cousins. Kids love crayons and they love the novelties. Perfect gift…thank you.

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Anna December 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Ok, first of all thank you for the chuckle as I picture you getting into a cupboard and having everything fall out. Glad I'm not the only one that happens to! Now you have me wanting some cute silicon molds. I've melted the crayons before, but just using the boring muffin cups. Now I need some cute shapes because yours turned out so pretty I want to be able to give gifts just like that.

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samthehamsmom December 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Great idea! So cute and cool!

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Michelle December 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm

How lovely! What a great Mama you are too.

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Natalie December 4, 2010 at 12:53 am

Fantastic! We now have a few dozen "new" circular crayons!

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kyndale December 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I love the shapes you chose! : )

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Susan December 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I've made them before too, and they turn out so cute. One thing I've always wondered and have never seen anyone mention is do you think it's safe to use the silicone molds for baking things to eat after you use them for the crayons? Thanks – I look forward to all the other ideas!

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kendra December 6, 2010 at 10:57 pm

ooo, all the shapes are so fun! happy third trimester mama!!!

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agambroult December 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Those are too cute, and yes, quite fun to make. We made them a few years ago and our first batch we let the colors mixed and ended up with 12 brown heart-shaped crayons. no fun. We got the hang of it eventually :) I love all the shapes you used.

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sheena December 9, 2010 at 1:26 am

love love love this!!! they are so cute–my kids would LOVE to do this!

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kaylovesvintage December 9, 2010 at 9:52 pm

amazing , I really like it

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valarie December 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm

We are crazy crayon fanatics around here. Every year the kids and I make them for their friends at school and in the neighborhood. For myself, I used caran d'ache watercolor crayons mix with normal crayons to see what would happen. Watercolor crazy crayons. Does life get any better? I think not.
Your crayons are gorgeous. I love their shapes and colors. Just wonderful.

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Molly December 13, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Love these. Saw them on small things blog too. When we tried it, a layer of translucent wax floated to the top. Did this happen to yours too? I couldn't tell from the photos. Maybe a lower heat… hmm. Thanks for the post!

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Shivayamama December 17, 2010 at 6:26 am

I didn't get a layer of wax, but the temp issue might be it. We used a real low temp, and let them melt slowly. It is such a fun project to do with the kiddos :).
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