This is the one project guaranteed to get my girlies excited again about their old, broken crayons! We've melted and remolded crayons so often that that's not really new anymore, and they both know that if they wheedle enough I'll hand them a brand-new box of crayons for their art activities, so you might guess that our tub of old crayons is a large tub, indeed.
Encaustic art is the art of dripping wax onto canvas. In other words--it uses up crayons! If your canvas is sturdy, if your work area is covered, if your hair isn't hanging in your face and your sleeves aren't drooping over your hands, if your crayons are long-ish and so is your candle, and if your children can follow simple instructions, then seriously, there is no reason on this earth not to hand the kiddos a lit candle and let them go to town.
First, you'll need to unwrap yourselves a goodly number of Crayola crayons:
Lay a canvas on your work table, and make sure that your child is at a comfortable height over the work table. Establish to your own level of comfort that your child will obey your instructions, will work calmly, will stop working if told to do so, and will not jerk away if you lay a guiding hand on her. If you're not sure that this will be the case, I'd suggest that you save encaustic art for another time. Go melt and remold your crayons instead!
Otherwise, tie your child's hair back, put her in short sleeves, and off you go!
Have your child comfortably hold a crayon in her dominant hand, keeping her hand at the very end of the crayon. Light a candle, and give it to the child to hold in her non-dominant hand. Your child should hold the candle and the crayon over her canvas and, keeping the candle and crayon either level or pointed slightly up (not down), should touch them together. The crayon will begin to melt and drip wax onto the canvas, and your child can begin to move the candle and crayon together to create her art:
Your child can switch colors whenever she chooses, to add to her artwork:
You don't want to let the crayon get too short, or the child's fingers will get too close to the flame.
Sydney is four, and so I hung out at her elbow for the entire two hours that she worked, intently focused on her art. Willow, however, is six, and has excellent form:
I didn't tell the girls that the majority of encaustic art is really about manipulating that wax once it's on the canvas, but Will nevertheless did some experimentation:
Willow fell in love with the sweet scent of the beeswax candles and covered canvas after canvas only in beeswax candle drippings, calling them her "Smell Paintings":