Introduction: Giant 4 X 4' Melted Crayon Painting Art
There are a LOT of tutorials out there for this project. What makes me any different? I have done every version and variety of it that you can think of.
I have messed it up more times than I can count. And even though that makes me a stubborn crafter who thinks that she knows how to do it better than what a blogger says, I know exactly what happens when you do and DON'T do this correctly.
Basically, I have the perfect formula for the perfect end product. And I know exactly WHY you shouldn't do it any other way! I am going to save you a lot of frustration.
The project that is featured in the video is done on a 4x4' canvas that I trash picked while walking the dog one night. I also used the million of crayons sitting around in my house from when my mother used to be a girl scout leader. Everything can be purchased new as well if you want to invest in it! The final product still hangs in my basement! I even screwed up this one a little bit... but it ends up being relatively harmless. You'll see ;)
Step 1: Step One: the Right Tools
You first have to gather your supplies.
#0 - Time & Money.
This project takes patience. It also isn't the least expensive thing to do. Even though kids would probably love this, I don't really recommend it for anyone under 15 years old. My final product is worth $150 or more, but you can scale down the size to make it more economical!
#1 - What will you canvas be?
Luckily, a variety of "canvases" can be used. The easiest thing to use that turns out looking the most professional is a gallery wrapped canvas that you would purchase from an art store. No additional work is needed to prepare it, so it is incredibly convenient.
The other, less expensive choice is ply wood. Go to Home Depot, get a piece of the stuff, have the staff cut it for you (while looking incredibly clueless and out of place if you are like me), and take it home. I usually got a big piece and had it cut into four equal pieces. You also must must must sand the wood when you get it home. Either staining the wood or spray painting it makes it into a suitable background for the melted crayons.
Short version: Use a canvas from AC Moore/Michaels/Art Store ($$), or prepare ply wood ($)
#2 - Crayola Crayons.
Yes the HAVE to be Crayola. I am not biased for the company, they just somehow are the only common crayon company out there who use very high quality wax for their crayons. Don't be tempted by Roseart or that dollar pack of crayons. Once you melt them, they become clear and thin, showing right through to the canvas. Crayola is a little expensive (especially if you have to fill 4 feet of canvas), but it is the ONLY way to go! Depending on the size of your canvas, I recommend buying 3 or more of the 150 packs of crayons. Bring your coupons. Thats one thing I learned from my mom- never go to AC Moore without your coupons.
#3 - Box cutter or small non-seraded knife.
#4 - Heat gun.
Not a blowdryer. The blowdryer causes splatter, and unless thats the look you're going for (read: messy) then I suggest investing in a heat gun. You can also use it for Embossing stationary! It's usually about $20 with a coupon at the craft store.
#5 Leather Gloves. Ill explain in a minute.
#6 - Elmer's Glue.
Do NOT use a Glue gun! It melts the crayons way before you want them to be that way...
Step 2: Step Two: Prepare the Crayons
If you are not spray painting your canvas, this is the first real step towards your beautiful, colorful crayon art. I have to warn you, this part is the most frustrating part of the project. It is especially difficult if you have tendonitis... If you have little kids, challenge them to take off the wrappers without using the sharp object! They actually kind of enjoy doing it.
You will need the box cutter/knife and your packs of crayons for this step. Leaving the label on the crayons leaves the melted crayons looking a little sad. It looks much nicer hanging on the wall without them, and is less of a Crayola advertisement instillation (unless that is what you are going for).
*** The crayons are attached to the paper wrapping labels with a tiny bit of glue that is placed along the seam where the paper meets itself. You can see it in the photo shown for this step. I usually cut the paper along lengthwise on the crayon on the opposite side of this seam. It gives you kind of a running start when you are ripping off the part with the glue. While using the box cutter, put on those leather gloves. I made myself bleed quite a few times cutting crayon labels, and when you have over 100 to do, a little protection is nice. ***
Hang in there! The worst part is over.
Step 3: Step Three: Glue and Wait
The photo for this step might be a little confusing, but there is a reason I put it here. When I did this project, I was SO excited to get started that I began melting the crayons before the glue was truly dry. It WILL run down the canvas if you don't give it time. It doesn't ruin the project, but it's a little annoying to cover up.
Gluing the crayons is pretty intuitive, but I will offer some advice.
First line up your crayons in the order you want them glued in. You don't want to be scrambling around to find the right color while the glue is already on the canvas.
You also need to do this in a completely flat space. I did it in the unfinished side of my basement because no one would bother the canvas in there while the glue was drying.
You do not have to do a single line of glue for each crayon! If you have that patience you deserve some type of trophy, but it can be done with less work (and I am a BIG fan of less work). Work with a foot of space at a time with the crayons right next to where you are gluing. Spread a layer of glue across this foot of space (enough so that there are still some completely white spots of glue, but not a super thick layer where you can't see the canvas beneath the wet glue).
Place the crayons with the points facing down the canvas (or in whatever direction you want them to melt). If you do it the other way, the drips of liquid wax do not fall directly beneath each crayon and it ends up looking more "spotted" than a liquid stream of color.
Lay each crayon closely nestled to its neighbor. They form a support group kind of, and the lack of space between the crayons makes the final product look very neat and tidy. It also ensures the crayons are all straightened.
Side note - You definitely don't need to put the exact same colors next to each other! I did in this project just by choice. It actually looks nice if you do a slow transition from one color to another, shuffling some of the crayon colors during the progression. I wouldn't recommend putting, say, blue next to orange or purple next to green (mixed these combos make brown), but definitely get creative if you want to.
Once the crayons are all set on the canvas, leave them to dry for 36 hours. If you put a larger amount of glue (which honestly is never a bad idea if you aren't in a hurry), wait up to three days. Keeping the crayons attached to the canvas is quite important....
Side Story - My experience with crayons that weren't properly attached is both adorable and annoying. Kittens (one of them shown above) were staying in my friends room, who I had made a crayon painting for. The finished painting was on his desk. I ended up sleeping on his futon one night with the kittens in the same room. at about 6 am, I am awoken to meek meows and a crash. I knew that it had to be that stupid painting.... the cuteness had knocked half of the crayons off of the canvas. We ended up cutting the wood to make up for the lost crayons, but it was disheartening. I don't even like cats that much. Moral of the story: glue the crap out of the crayons if time isn't an issue for you.
Step 4: Step Four - Melting (THE FUN PART)
This part is so fascinating and fun, I would do it 3 times a week if I could. Watching them melt and being in such control over it is calming and exhilarating at the same time.
So your crayons have officially dried to the canvas/wood. Push into the crayons in the middle to make sure no glue oozes out, and you are ready to begin.
Warnings about the heat gun:
This thing runs at 400 degrees F. A child should definitely not be using it, and an adult still needs to be quite careful where he or she points it when it is running. I also did this part of the project in the unfinished side of my basement, where there wouldn't be distractions, and the dog wouldn't be around to possibly get in the line of fire of the heat gun. Do not point it towards any living thing please. It could even kill your plants.
Hold the gun at an angle that points mostly down the canvas, almost parallel to it. You want to start melting the crayons from the side , not the tip. As the wax runs down the crayon and reaches the canvas, follow it with the gun! The more you follow it, the faster it travels and the further down the wax goes. The project looks the best if you end up with layers upon layers of melted wax streams from the same or similar colored crayons running on top of each other! The video in the intro of the instructable shows some examples of this. Really, this part is all about your creativity.
Be careful not to melt any individual crayon too much. It kind of turns into a skeleton and separates from the neighboring crayons if you melt too much of the wax. Again, it doesn't ruin the project but if you are a perfectionist, try to spread out the wealth when it comes to which crayon you melt.
This is the end! See?! Not that bad. Just a little bit of patience and that babysitting money.
Step 5: Some Final Words of Advice...
When you are happy with the way your painting looks, it is always nice to give it a nice shiny coating. I use a clear glossy spray (found in the spray paint section of an art store or a hardware store). It preserves the wax (keeps dust and dirt from attaching itself permanently) and makes it look like a finished piece of work.
If you have any questions (or have any additional words of wisdom about crayon melting), please feel free to comment or message me!