Introduction: Wax Canvas Art

Picture of Wax Canvas Art

You know that old bin of mismatched broken crayons you have lying around? I'm going to show you how you can have fun with them again, while turning them into an awesome customized decoration or gift.

The idea for melting crayons onto canvas is not my original idea, but I did want to take something simple into a more complex direction. The instructable below gave me a good idea of where to start!

If you enjoy this, please consider voting for me in the Wax Contest and Remix Contest!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Heres what you'll need.

- A canvas (I used 11"x14")

- a sheet of cardstock or an old cereal box

- a heat source (heat gun, hair dryer, lighter, candle, whatever you want!)

- a silhouette image of what you want to immortalize in wax

- crayons, candles, or any other type of colored wax

- an exacto knife or scissors

- pliers

- a working surface you can spill some wax on

- painter's tape

Step 2: Cut Out Your Shape

Picture of Cut Out Your Shape

The first thing you'll want to do is print out your shape onto a piece of card stock. If you don't have any cardstock you can use normal paper and trace it onto a cereal box and cut it out from there. I don't recommend using regular paper for this. If you want to go with a really simple shape like the heart in the first step, you can just draw right onto your card stock and skip printing altogether. Try to keep the paper in tact, it will help you later on if you need to clean up the final product.

Step 3: Place and Tape

Picture of Place and Tape

After you have your shape cut out, position it on the canvas where you want it to be. Then tape down all the edges except for a small piece. This is where you will start. But first, you need wax.

Step 4: Select Your Colors

Picture of Select Your Colors

When sorting through old crayons, its very difficult to tell what the colors are. Test them first on a piece of paper and develop a palette of 2 or 3 colors you want to use, separating the ones that you don't want from the ones you're going to keep. The amount of wax you need will vary, but estimate between 10-20 crayons. This number can vary widely, depending on how much of your canvas you'd like to cover, and on how many layers of colors you want. I like to do at least 3 colors. Don't forget to peel the paper off.

Step 5: Turn Up the Heat

Picture of Turn Up the Heat

Now that your canvas is ready and you have all your wax, grab a crayon with your pliers and apply heat with your heat gun on low. Point it so that the heat blows across the crayon and is NOT pointing at your canvas. This is extremely important, you don't want to melt the wax that's already on the canvas. The wax should slowly run down the crayon and drip onto the canvas. Be sure to drip some wax onto the edge where your stencil and your canvas meet. You want the wax to pin the stencil to the canvas but not seep under the edge of the stencil. Keep your setting on low. If you turn it too high the wax will blow and splatter everywhere.


Some commenters have asked whether a heat gun needs to be used. The answer is no. This would work just fine with a hair dryer, a candle, even a lighter if that's all you have to work with. Using a lighter is a great way to get just a drop of wax in an area you might want to fill in. One excellent suggestion was to try using a crayon inside a hot glue gun. This will wreck your hot glue gun but would give you a lot of control over your design.

Step 6: Details and Practice

Picture of Details and Practice

There are a lot of different looks you can get from this technique. Try tilting your canvas at a steep angle to get the raised thick drip patterns seen in the first photo. Tilt the canvas at a shallow angle and the drips will look more like the second photo, flatter and soaked into the fibers of the canvas.

Step 7: Keep Going

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Slowly drip wax all the way around your taped edges, peeling the tape as you go and rotating the canvas so the drips go in the direction you want. Be random and don't worry about trying to fix "mistakes". People have a really difficult time trying to make random patterns, we have a tendency to want to space things out evenly. Resist that urge. Keep peeling away the tape until its all gone and your stencil is held completely in place by the wax.

This is the time to make one or two more laps around using some different colors.

Step 8: Peel It! Carefully...

Picture of Peel It! Carefully...

Now it's time to reveal your masterpiece! Hit the wax sealed stencil quickly with the heat and find an exposed edge to slowly pull the stencil up. If it's not coming up, use a little more heat. Using too much will melt all your hard work, or at the very least change its appearance.

Step 9: Clean It Up

Picture of Clean It Up

After you first peel the stencil off, you might have a perfect shape! But more likely than not, you'll find a few spots where the wax made it under your stencil. If this happens, don't panic. Grab your blade and start to clean up the dirty edges. This is where keeping that original shape will help you out. Lay it over the top and you'll be able to see exactly what you need to clean up. You can see plenty of messy edges on mine. You can save yourself some time if you avoid as much of this step as possible. My girlfriend and I finished this one in about an hour.

Step 10: Done!

Picture of Done!

Hang your new art on the wall, give it to a friend, sell it on Etsy, whatever!

If you enjoyed this, please consider voting for me in the Wax Contest!

Thank you!


liamrocks1111 (author)2016-12-07

hmmmm suspiciously similar to

Yes it is, you may notice its a winner in the Remix 2.0 contest. A contest where you base your instructable off a similar one that's inspired you.

MelodyP7 (author)2015-10-28

Many thanks I will give this a go.

NoahH4 (author)2015-08-16

I voted you for both. Very nice execution, and I liked how you have a few options for each of the steps.

gravityisweak (author)NoahH42015-08-20

Thanks so much! I appreciate both the votes, and the feedback!

jeanniel1 (author)2015-08-19

Wow, spectacular! Reminds me of doing Van Gogh-like "paintings" with melted crayons as brush strokes.

persia111 (author)2015-08-14

I eventually became so annoyed with the wax getting through the stencil that I traced tape everywhere (basically made the stencil out of tape) xD It took a while even for a more simple design, probably too hard for a more complex one like the seahorse, but it's still an option

Give this a try - on a sheet of parchment paper large enough for your stencil, lay overlapping strips of masking tape. What you're making is a sheet of masking tape. Cut out your stencil shape. Then peel off of the parchment and put your stencil onto the canvas. When using paint, this works for both positive and negative stencils.

That's a good idea, that could work well. The only problem I found was that the heat tended to make the tape lift. That problem could probably be solved by using an old hot glue gun to melt the crayons.

jeane.d.allison (author)2015-08-13

This is so pretty. How about using freezer paper for the stencil. You could then iron it shiny-side-down onto the canvas. Wax probably wouldn't go under the edges. Fabric paint doesn't. Great Instructable.


JulianAzz (author)2015-08-14

Gravity, would you mind if I use the same idea to make a batman one with black and yellow? This idea is mind blowing, amazing, I cant get my eyes off it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gravityisweak (author)JulianAzz2015-08-14

Please do! I hope you try the black canvas! I saw them at Michael's last time I was there. Share pics when you do it!!

JulianAzz (author)gravityisweak2015-08-16

ok thx a lot!

Kevichino 42 (author)2015-08-15

I have made something like this except with a styrofoam head. Turned out really cool but took a lot more time.

dragonrising (author)2015-08-14

Very well done! I love the nautical theme of the seahorse and the anchor. What kind of canvas did you use? Was it just one that you find at the craft store, not a special kind?

Just a regular canvas from a craft store like Michaels or AC Moore. Even Ocean State Job Lot sells them.

persia111 made it! (author)2015-08-14

I made this before I saw this instructable but I thought it could give someone else an idea. I used white paint for correction

gravityisweak (author)persia1112015-08-14

That's awesome! Thanks for sharing it. Did you use crayons too?

amnartist (author)2015-08-13

Since the canvas has stretch to it, what keeps the crayon from cracking and falling off? My daughter-in-love tried this about a year ago and had that problem.

gravityisweak (author)amnartist2015-08-14

I haven't had a problem with that. Handling it by the wood frame seems to be enough to keep any of it from falling off. Peeling the stencil would be the most likely time for it to crack, and that has to be done with some carefully applied heat.

JulianAzz (author)2015-08-14

I love this. Im going to try and make batman one with yellow and black!

gravityisweak (author)JulianAzz2015-08-14

I'd love to see how that comes out, post a picture if you do it! There are black canvases that I've been wanting to try and that would be the perfect thing.

kimberley.vaughan.7 (author)2015-08-13

Totally gorgeous.

CyborgGold (author)2015-08-13

I just had a thought that might help keep your edges looking sharp! Before you start with your colors, get a white crayon and heat it to almost dripping and apply it to the stencil. This would seal the edges from the color, and if the white seeps between the stencil area and the drippings area it won't show as well, so you will have to scrape less. Great Ible! I might do this one this weekend with my daughter!

gravityisweak (author)CyborgGold2015-08-13

Oh man! That's a really good one! I'll definitely try that next time. Surprisingly though my crayon bucket had almost no white crayons.

HandiGirl (author)2015-08-13

This is so beautiful, it takes my breath away. Who would ever believe a very creative way to use up all those crayons lying in the corner of a desk drawer. Thankyou so very much for are crafty .......carry on.

DIY Micah (author)2015-08-13

This is amazing! One thing you could do once you clean up the inside you could try to hit it with a couple coats of white acrylic or even gesso to really make the white inside pop and look really clean. Great job!

gravityisweak (author)DIY Micah2015-08-13

Thank you! That is a great idea. If you look closely you can probably see faint spots where the wax used to be. Its very noticeable on the anchor I made. I kind of liked the effect, but I'm sure some people would rather have the shape really pop out, and that would be a great way to do it. I was also curious about a chemical that might remove wax, or toying with the idea of reheating just the middle and wiping it off. More experimentation ideas.

Now that I think of it, you could forget that altogether and fill your white space with a solid color. Maybe even using solid white wax.... endless variations.

omcquarrie (author)2015-08-13

So, say you don't have a heat gun, are there alternatives to using one? Like a barbecue lighter or something? That might be a little bit of a pain, but just wondering!! Looks really cool!

gravityisweak (author)omcquarrie2015-08-13

Yes! Absolutely.You can really use just about anything that gets hot enough to melt a crayon, which is really not very hot. You really could use a barbecue lighter, and it would give you a huge amount of control. In fact I sometimes use one if I need to add just a single drop of wax somewhere. Sometimes you accidentally pop a piece of wax off the canvas when handling it or you realize after you pull the stencil off that you missed a little spot and need to fill in.

CrystalG3 (author)2015-08-13

Rather than fooling with tape, why not use some photo mount spray on the back of the shape being excluded from the wax? No chance of moving the edge of the shape as you remove tape.

catherene.avery (author)2015-08-13

Love the simplicity of this. My husband has a hard time with doing anything that deals with fine motor skills but this looks like he would be able to do this. Thanks for sharing.

onemoroni1 (author)2015-08-13

Very cool and child and inner child friendly.

MonkiMan (author)2015-08-13

Now this is one my favourite things i've seen on instructables, totally trying this =)

Tinglynips (author)2015-08-12

Might I suggest using crayons in a hot glue gun

gravityisweak (author)Tinglynips2015-08-13

That's a great suggestion! For people who don't have a heat gun, they could try a hot glue gun, a hair dryer, even a lighter or a colored candle would probably work. I'd be really interested to see the different looks you could achieve. I will update the instructable to add more variations.

mariaoshun (author)2015-08-12

Nice beautiful Art work

zaphodd42 (author)2015-08-12

Very cool! I remember leaving crayons in the car on a hot day as a kid and returning to "one big crayon". I love the seahorse! If i ever buy a beach house, Ill hang that on a wall.

sabu.dawdy (author)2015-08-12

Good one

FreckledR (author)2015-08-12

Wow, this looks really cool! Can't wait to try it out!

SCHLEPIC (author)2015-08-12

Great idea and execution!

agis68 (author)2015-08-12

brilliant very creativity

TiaRiaa (author)2015-08-12

your welcome

xxlauraxx (author)2015-08-12

Cool technique! This is fun, thanks for sharing.

ralema69 (author)2015-08-12

I will be making these for my son and his friends for sure this Christmas! I have the perfect idea now!

TiaRiaa (author)2015-08-12

i voted for you . your amazing designs are beautiful . LOVE IT!!!!!!

:) :D

gravityisweak (author)TiaRiaa2015-08-12

Thanks so much!

ArianaSLabus (author)2015-08-12

Wow! What a way to channel your inner Jackson Pollock! Love it!

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