Creating a Sekkaboku Rubbing Crayon





Introduction: Creating a Sekkaboku Rubbing Crayon

Rubbings are fun and offer an easy reward. Images of all kinds can be made. I primarily do rubbings of metalwork in my area. I visit demolition sites where there are all kinds of interesting metal objects. The pictures in this instructable are of manhole covers that I did rubbings of. I also find interestingly formed metal. For instance, pop cans embedded in the pavement. The possiblities are basically endless for you. This is a way to make the basic crayon tool for doing the rubbings.

Sekkaboku is the crayon molded to different shapes used in Japan to rub the images found on the metal of the sword. The shape is key. The original crayons that I bought were broad and tapered at the end to make a higher quality rubbing. The crayons need to be similar to sekkaboku, with a shape to make the rubbing easier and better. I believe that sekkaboku are made with compressed india ink. That might be a follow-up instructable.

Step 1: Tools to Make the Tool

1. Extremely well-ventialted area. Outside preferably. Hopefully you will be trying to melt different crayons so you never know what fumes will happen.
2. Empty metal cans. (SomArtMama recommends pop cans with the tops cut off and crimped.)
3. Water
3. An old pot.
4. Forms in an appropriate shape that the melted crayons can be poured into. (use your judgement.) I use seashells or different shaped tins. Make sure that the melted shape can be easily taken or popped out of the form.

You want a shape that will make rubbing easy and expertly done. The original sekkaboku that I used was a bell-shaped wedge. (picture). Literally a bell shape, like, a traditional bell with Japanese characters on it. So far I have round that a small tin of snus tobacco from Camel (picture) works will too. You want to be able to get the solid crayon out whole so figure it out.

5. A small razor or knife. This is used to make shaving of the crayon so it will melt more easily.
6. A camping stove with fuel.
7. Matches
8. New or old crayons that can be melted without burning or creating fumes.

Step 2: Melting and Pouring

Do the first couple meltings outdoors or in an extremely well-ventilates area.

Bring a shallow level of water to boil in pot on stove.

Break crayons into reasonable pieces and place in metal tin. To mix colors in a marbling way, you might melt colors in separate tins and then pour them together into the same mold.

Once the crayons have melted in the tins, find a safe way to pour them into the mold.

Step 3: Cooling the Shape

The crayon needs to cool. Let it cool enough before you take it out.

One step that I have tried is placing the shape in cold water. This cools it faster and my pull the crayon away from the mold.

Step 4: Pop It Out

Pop the shape out of the mold and there you have it.

Now find some good paper and hard image and see what art you can make from rubbings.



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    What is a Sekkaboku rubbing crayon? I think it looks interesting but I'm not sure what it is or what you do with it..

    2 replies

    Did you bother reading past the second paragraph? Where it says plain as day in black and white that It is a crayon used to make rubbings (copies) or impressions of inscriptions found on metal objects like swords or manhole covers etc? I'm not trying to be mean but Its sort of insulting to ask a question like that basically shouting " i didn't bother reading this Instructable or even looking @ the pictures but I will bother the rest of the Instructables community by asking for the answers to extremely obvious questions

    I agree with the previous poster. The instructions have you pop out the mold out of containers... but skips the whole rubbing part. Some use Pelon, some use tracing paper, etc.

    New Orleans is another awesome place to do rubbings! I took pictures of all sorts of awesome textures, but I didn't think of rubbings until reading this post. And photos never show the textures as well as I want.

    I went to Japan last year and look how cool their man hole covers are, I wish I had known about this technique then. Great idea.

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    5 replies

    that is so cool!!!

    I went to Obuse a while ago, and they had some really nice ones too. I regrettably have no photos of them, though, as my camera decided to corrupt my memory card that day :| Japan has lots of neat things like this, lots of partly-random green spaces everywhere. I'd love to go back, and spend some more time.

    These ARE great. They'd be perfect for rubbings. They are a little different from the images that I usually put together. I wonder what the one-color rubbing would look like picking up only the metal surfaces. Any other interesting shapes, designed or unintentional that you found?

    Just more man hole covers, I was so intrigued with them. I love Japan, the energy and the asethetic were so inspiring. I would go back in a heart beat except I try to go to different places when I travel.

    Those are awesome!

    These are super cool. We did rubbings of heiroglyphs when I was a kid and then I moved onto plywood with the organic patterns embedded within the wood. But I've never used crayons. Will try. Very inspiring

    I use mulberry paper that is thin but strong.

    Thank you for the paper suggestion as well as this instructable - I have to admit that since reading your posting, I've spent more time noticing manhole covers and other objects and thinking about making my own rubbings - thanks!

    Outstanding. Thanks for the beautiful images and the simple technique.

    when i was a kid we used to make these in muffin pans in a oven.. they are great

    What sort of crayons work best? L