“new” crayons from old ones

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i’d seen the idea of recuperating all those little broken pieces of crayons, melting them in molds, making new crayons with all different colors in them. what fun! then i found another version of this project, but putting the molds inside a hot car. genius!

we also had a frightening amount of broken crayons. so sofia and i picked out the pieces that were too small to use well, peeled off the papers and got to work cutting them up.

then sofia chose which pieces to put in fish-shaped silicone ice cube trays. i’d stopped using them when i discovered colored ice in our water. apparently the crappy plastic was leaching dye (and god knows what else) into the water in it. yuck!

she chose to make some monochrome (all green, all pink…) but mostly mixed colors. we could only fit in about half of the cut pieces. i put the molds on a baking sheet (just to be able to carry them better) and brought it out onto the sunny balcony.

yes, we did this in the summer. now that winter is on its way and the days are getting shorter and colder, the sun would never be hot enough to melt them. but believe me, it was plenty hot in july when we did this. i needed potholders to pick up the boiling hot tray, go figure.

we got excited seeing how they melted. but we soon realized that not all the crayons were melting the same way. take a look at the pink ones in the center above.

and not much later, i noticed something strange: the pigment was sinking and the uncolored wax floating. you can see it pretty well in the center fish above. i tried mixing the color and was of one fish with a toothpick, but it made a hideous uniform color without those colored streaks. i let them melt the rest of the day and almost all of them melted. i was hoping for a miracle as they hardened, that the wax would’ve gotten mixed up better with the pigment. obviously that didn’t happen.

i got pretty annoyed and so the crayons ended up living on our living room piano for months. then i finally got sick of seeing them there and wondered how it was possible that i kept seeing posts by people who successfully did this project. i wondered: who knows if it works better in the oven? so last week i put the blue mold in the oven. but it was exactly as on the sunny balcony. i put them in the freezer, hoping again for a miracle. after they hardened, we took them out from the molds (with considerable difficulty). on one side they were nice and colorful…

…and on the other side there was a thick layer of uncolored wax. and as you can see here, there were still pieces of crayons that didn’t melt at all! that pink one never melted even a bit.

and, as if it weren’t enough, almost all of the tails broke.

you can see a nice cross section in this broken tail: half colored, half uncolored and whole unmelted crayons inside.

the colored sides have the same consistency as those more professional crayons, the ones that leave color all over your hands. and on the molds. that the blue mold got destroyed because i fused a bit to the crayons in the oven.

i was pretty bummed that they didn’t work out. other people’s melted crayons looked so cool, i didn’t know where i’d gone wrong. the only thing that i can think of is that some of the original crayons weren’t of the best quality, and already hadn’t colored very well from the beginning. but the kids didn’t care one bit about the quality of the new crayons. they got right to work together, sofia drawing the way her brother does. obviously they could only draw with the fish’s colored sides.

while i was taping their drawing to the wall, i mentioned to sofia that they’d managed to make a wonderful drawing despite the crayons not being any good. her answer? “but, mamma, they’re perfect! why are you saying that they’re no good?” kids can be so much wiser than we big people, with our preconceived ideas of how things ought to be. i feel so lucky every time my kids remind me of it! (but if anyone has any idea of where i went wrong, please let me know… i still have another bag of crayon bits!)

11 thoughts on ““new” crayons from old ones”

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