Friday, March 30, 2012

For the eggs

Just to get it out of the way... no, this is not about chicken eggs (or the lack thereof.) Our girls are back to laying their (near) daily eggs much to our pleasure. There are currenly 21 fresh eggs in the fridge. Borrow from us anytime!

This post is about the handmade treats we're putting in our Easter eggs this year. The annual hunt is approaching, and I just love an opportunity to do a little handmade for the masses. Last year I did some mini chalkboard necklaces, the year before there were painted wood pins, and before that some ribbon streamers on wood rings like these. I really do love coming up with the ideas, making them en masse, stuffing all those silly plastic eggs, and then watching the kids on their mad hunt and the ensuing cracking open of the found eggs to discover all the surprises inside. This year a lot more people are doing handmade treats, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what shows up.

It didn't seem, with all the art supplies around here, that the crayons were being used at all. So, I decided we'd try our hand at making multi-colored chunky crayons. I wanted them to be in Spring/Easter shapes, but was stumped by the plastic candy molds that wouldn't hold up to the oven-time required for melting the wax. I was happy with my solution.

After a torturous hunt with the boys through multiple craft stores for small Easter-shaped cookie cutters, I finally landed on a set of minis with some good shapes, an egg, a chick, a bunny, a couple flowers. Okay, good.

Then we peeled the wrappers off all those crayons, and took a break to watch that awesome Mr. Rogers video that shows how crayons are made.

I dumped all the peeled crayons on a parchment-lined, 1/4 sized, rimmed baking sheet and put it in a 250F oven for 15-20 minutes following the directions here. Actually, I probably left them in there for a good 10-15 minutes more to try to get more of them melted. From what I've read, Crayolas are the best for this, and I probably had some schwag crayons in the collection that messed with the timing/temp. Just keep an eye on it.

When you have a good, thorough melt, take it out carefully and let it cool/harden for a half hour or so. Then it's time to cut out your shapes. See, I had tried melting the crayons into a cookie cutter sitting on a lined pan, melting them into a cookie cutter with the bottom wrapped with foil, and melting them into one with a rock resting on top to hold the bottom down flush with the pan. None of these ideas worked all that well. They were messy. The wax leaked. Just a pain.

So, I decided to create a 1 inch thick sheet of melted crayon and then use cookie cutters and an iron to "hot knife" my way through the wax. I set 7 cutters close together on the wax, rested the iron (on high) on the tops of the cutters, and let it sit there under slight pressure as the iron heated up the metal and slowly cut through the crayon. It worked really well! The shapes were precise. The new crayons slid out of the cookie cutters quite easily. And we're left with a lot of random crayon monster shapes to keep with our art supplies. I think I'll be using crayons a lot more now that we have these.

And in honor of two great friends, Bear and Gatina, who passed away very recently, I did this drawing to test out the new product. Love how the line changes color oh so unpredictably!

Wow. I've never been finished with a product like this so far ahead of the deadline. This is weird. Well, I couldn't wait 'til Easter to share, so there you go. Thank you Easter Bunny! Bawk! Bawk!


Emira said...

So I followed your advice but had the plastic cookie cutters so I tried something a little different and just thought I would share! I put in oven (took maybe 10 minutes for me but all were crayola) took out let harden for maybe 15 minutes it was firm to touch but still soft and warm, I then put my cookie cutters in carefully and lifted them straight out, so it was pressed but not taken out of pan I did all the shapes I needed and used a knife to cut out the shapes i did not have, put it in the freezer for maybe 15 minutes till hard and then just popped them out! It was amazing THANX SO MUCH for the inspiration all the other methods looked easy to fail so I was happy this was easy on my first try!

rebecca said...

Emira, that was great problem solving, and probably SO much less time consuming than my method with the iron. Not to mention, you would have melted your plastic cookie cutters with my technique! I hope your ideas will be helpful to anyone else coming across this tutorial. Thanks for the comment. :)