Monday, October 3, 2011

Make Fall Leaves with Broken Crayons and a Hair Dryer! {#Craft}

I saw a really cool idea for making autumn leaf sun catchers in a catalog the other day. It had the leaves outlined with colored construction paper, then the centers had tissue paper glued to acetate. I really wanted to do this project with the kids. Alas, my stores of tissue paper didn't have any of the right colors. I guess I could have gone with pink, blue, and yellow leaves but it just wasn't the "autumn" look I wanted to go for. That's when Little Guy asked to use the crayons in his "Umi box". I keep different levels of crayons in different boxes: the newest stay in their original box, the slightly used, yet still pretty good ones go into an old wipes box, and then the broken ones that no one wants to use go into the Umi shoe box. As we were coloring, I had that light bulb go on. What if we used melted crayons instead of tissue paper?

You know how certain colors of crayons tend to get used the most, while others just get broken? Well, it seems that yellow, orange, red, and brown are not the most popular crayons in the box. Most had just been broken and peeled - hardly used. So, as he colored, I took an old paring knife and shaved the crayons into different cups. I've found that a knife or vegetable peeler work so much better (and are easier to clean) than a cheese grater for this. Once we had our crayon shaving, I just needed to get a few more things:
  • Waxed paper
  • Hair dryer
  • Spoon
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A stick
  • Ribbon
  • Needle & Thread
Now, if your kids are pretty good with scissors, then let them have a go at cutting leaf shapes out of folded construction paper. I had the oldest cut the leaf outlines, then I cut out the middles. Why folded paper?  That way you can be sure to have two leaves that are exactly the same. You'll need two for each sun catcher you plan to make.

Then, it was time for some fun for Little Guy. I had originally planned to use an iron set on low to do this, but realized that it would still be too hot for him to help. The hair dryer, set to high, and a very close Mama's eye were the perfect alternative. We sprinkled some of the crayon shavings onto a piece of waxed paper, folded it over, then turned on the dryer. It took a while to melt the crayons, but we helped a little with a spoon. One of us was the "Dryer Foreman" and the other was the "Spooner". The dryer foreman, of course, held the dryer rather close to the folded waxed paper and melted it and the crayons. The spooner's job was to use the back of the spoon to spread the melted wax around inside the paper. The spooner also squished some of the larger crayon chunks that just refused to melt. We used one small piece of waxed paper for each color of crayon shavings.

We let the melted wax papers cool, then I had Little guy take one of the leaf outlines and decide where we should cut the wax paper so our leaves would be beautiful. Once he decided, I used a pencil to lightly outline both the outside and inside of the leaf. Then, I cut the waxed paper between the two lines. We applied glue to the bottom outline, set the waxed crayon paper on top, added a little more glue, then sandwiched the waxed paper with the second outline. (I hope that makes sense. It was a little sticky, so I didn't get any pictures.)
Once the glue dried, I took some invisible thread (it's like really light fishing line) and the needle and threaded them together. Then, I tied them onto the stick, used the ribbon to make a hanger, and...
I know this isn't completely in focus, but I love the colors. Little guy must have found a couple of stray shavings and tossed them onto the waxed paper when my back was turned. Great surprise!

I learned a couple of things while doing this that may help you if you decide to try it out:

  1. If you have a little one, cut the leaves out and shave the crayons before you tell them you're doing a project. The cut-outs take time and the knife for the crayons is dangerous to a little one who wants to help. Next time, I'll do the preliminaries while he's sleeping!
  2. Always put something under the waxed paper/crayons before turning on the dryer! Little Guy's high chair tray now has a permanent spot of pink right in the middle from this project. No big deal for us - the high chair is almost exclusively used for crafts, anyway. But, you might actually want to keep yours looking nice! 
  3. Make sure your dryer's body stays cool. Mine does, but some get pretty darn hot! If you don't have a safe dryer, you might want to try a marble cutting board. Just set a pan of very hot water on it to heat it up. Even a heating pad would work - it would just take a little while - might make a nice surprise. "Let's put the waxed paper with these shavings on this piece of newspaper, then we'll put another paper on top. Next we'll put the heating pad on top of it. I wonder what will happen to the crayons while we have our snack?" Could even be educational!
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A Mom From The Burbs said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This is a really cute idea. I think I'll try it with my kiddos.

Thanks for sharing.

OneMommy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Beautiful use of old crayons!

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

these are gorgeous! thanks for linking to the Sunday Showcase & I shared this on Facebook as well! LOVE it!


Paula Wethington said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I remember doing that in grade school! It would have probably been grade 5 or 6 but yes, that's the technique.

I was at a small private school at the time that didn't have much of an art budget. The teachers were incredibly creative about what could be done with crayons.

Emily Reviews said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This is really neat! They turned out really nicely. Love it & stumbled it for ya.

Aimee from Classified: Mom said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

These are awesome Alicia! Thanks for linking up with us!