Introduction: How to Make Not So Sh... Bad Crayons

I was procrastinating with this project up to the last day of Colors of the Rainbow, and now, Yay!, it didn't work. Initial idea was to make wax pencils for drawing on glass. I've got this idea after finding the recipe in one old magazine for kids, but since I made a few deviations from the original, the resulting product turned out being pretty much useless. It draws well neitheo on glass not paper.

Since the whole project turned out to be a fail, I decided to post it here, so that you people be able to learn on my mistakes. But also I'm going to try this project one more time, hopefully making it work, and if I'll succeed, I'll post the results in my next instructable.


I have added one more step at the end recently where I shared my second attempt with this project. Some minor changes were applied, so that now you can get usable product with this instructable.

Step 1:

So, the first thing I changed in the original recipe was the pigment. I decided to use some leftovers from old gouache paint. I'll tell why exactly it didn't work a bit later but now I'm going to show, how I processed the paint to create pigments.

This technique can be used for other projects and pigments can perform well with different binders.. And the first thing to do is to open the paint containers to let paint dry. It'll dry faster though if transfered out into wider dishes.

Step 2:

Now pigments are to be powdered. I tryed a few different approaches for grinding the pigments. Since they really didn't want o dry completelly (after few days on the sun) they resembled a bit moist clay in consistancy and tendet to compact into chuncs undes preassure, This is why not all grinding methods worked equally well.

The siplest method of folding dryed paint into sheeth of paper and pounding it with hammer didn't work at all.

Mortar and pestle did a bit better job on grinding the pigment but there sill were some chunks.

Advanced Soviet technology was involved as well. The grinder produced nice fine powder but a lot of pigmebt has left inside and was compacted into dence chunks. Cleaning was needed.

Old electric coffee grinder produced the best result: fine powder and no clumps. This is what I would recommend. Start with most lightely toned pigments and mowe to darker ones, while cleaning the grinder with a brush from remaining powder after each pigment. This way you'll awoid constantly washing and drying it without notacibly crosscontaminating colors.

Blankly stareing at paint does nothing.

Step 3:

Before melting the wax I've made a bunch of paper tube using a pencil as a mandrel.

Since I have a set of hole punches I cut a bunch of round pegs out of wine corkto plug the tubes. As alternative I can suggest using paper binders the way, shown on the picture.

Step 4:

Now for the wax part. The original recipe calls for natural bees wax combined with rendered pork fat.

While I have bought bees wax at market beforehand it wasn't refined very well and had almost brown color to it, so I decided to use some white candles instead. The thing is candles nowadays are usually made of parafin wax, which has different consistansy and more crumbly than natural wax (although different additives are usually applied to alternate it to some extend, like, for example stearine). I tryed to get most flexible candles though.

I had no problems with finding pork fat. I believe, beef tallow can be used as weel. And for the vegan version palm oil can be used, I think.

So, now the proportions. I ignored them... for few reasons. Firstly, I wasn't using bees wax. Secondly, I'have found a similar recipe in other source that was calling for different proportions. And third reason is that the battery on kitchen scales has died and I decided to buy some beer instead of replacing it.

Eventually I jast eyeballed everything and when ewerything melted together I made a small test chunk on the go to test the consistancy of the mix. It was fine.

I used a water bath to melt fat-wax mixture.

Step 5:

When the wax mixture was melted I set it aside without taking it off the hot water.

I placed a pan on fire and then placed silicone cups with pigments ontop of it. Then I poured equal amount of wax mixture into each cup. Just eyeballed a reasonable amount in comparition to the pigment. I steared everything up.

The hot pan will keep mixture in cups melted while you're pouring it into tubes.

Step 6:

Then I started to fill paper tubes with coloured mixture.

At this point I realized that my gouache pigments do'nt work very well. Only small ammount of powder particles was actually suspended in wax, while the rest just sunk down to the bottom. And this is where the original recipe has perfect sense, since it calls for using a lamp black as pigment. Particles of soot are really really small and will mix with wax evenly.

So very fine powder pigments are needed.

One thing I can suggest to try here is to melt already colored crayons and add some tallow to alter the consistansy. Then pour the mix into tubes. I have no idea how it's going to work though.

Step 7:

After the mix in tubes have solidified I tryed unwrap the paper. The best method is to cut the paper along side first and remove the pencil then.

Also the wax tends to shrink, while drying, and "hollow" cones are forming at the top side of the pencil, so if you want to make it propertly, concidere leaving some extra wax mixture to to fill the rest of the tube after solidifying.

I also tryed to leave paper on a couple of penciles and just sharpen it. The paper tubes were a bit to thick so the pencils didn't fit into pencil grinder. But sharp knife worked well.

Now... the pencils turned out to be a bit too soft (too much of fat) and a bit too crumbly (parafin wax instead of bees wax), but kind of usable,

Step 8:

Do they write on glass? No. Do they write on paper? Sort of. Was it a waste of time? Mmmm... I've learned a few things, and now I know how I can improve and, maybe make something usable next time.

Although the whol whole thing didn't work for me, I tryed provide as much details on the process as posible in hope that my experience would be usefull for someone, who is going to try making something similar. Also, I guess, after one more attempt I would be able to make the thing work for making crayons for drawing on paper, but this is not my goal, so I'm not goig there.

Step 9:

And a couple more thing to mention.

I tryed roll some remains of colored wax into a tube, but it turned out too crumbly to be useful.

I left wax remains in other cups to cool down, and after the wax solidified I took them out. The bottom part, where all the pigment concentrated looked wery good and was perfectly usable for drawing on paper. It wouls make a good pencil alas the mixture wass too thick to be poured into tube.

Anyway, this is it for now, thanks for your attention, and have a nice colors.

Also follow me on Facebook. Just in case it'll save your life someday. Quiet probably not though.

Step 10:

So I tryed once more and eventually I was able to get some satisfying results. I have added more wax to the mix and used bronze powder as a pigment (aluminium powder will also do). The pencil still doesn't write on glass but it gives nice thick strokes on paper, resembling oil pastels in coisistansy.

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