Team Project: Beeswax Art

Beeswax Painting

I still had a huge amount of old beeswax sitting around, leftover from way back when we made teacup candles.  Just blue, though.  Three shades of blue.

Beeswax Painting

I also had a 24″ x 24″ piece of hardboard that I bought back when I had a different sort of idea for the tree branch coat racks.

Beeswax Painting

Beeswax Painting

We can’t waste these things, right?  Well, here’s what the Pie and I came up with together, and I don’t think I would have been able to do this solo. This was our initial plan. A beeswax painting of an ocean scene, a fishing boat attached to a fishing net.

Beeswax Painting

Some hemp string will stand in for rope, and this onion bag will be our net.

Beeswax Painting

But first we had to prep our “canvas”. I took the board outside and sprayed it with Gesso.

Beeswax Painting

Then we needed to prep our supplies. We took the three colours of wax, ripped up the sheets, and jammed them into 3 large canning jars.

Beeswax Painting

Then we plopped them in our canner.

Beeswax Painting

Of course, being full of wax sheets, they floated and tipped over and some of them got some water inside them (which will actually be important later on). So we had to wedge them in place with other jars filled with water and a round wire rack on top.

Beeswax Painting

We brought the water to a simmer and slowly the wax began to melt. As it opened up more space in the jars, we tore up more wax and dropped it in.

Beeswax Painting

Beeswax Painting

And while we were working on that, we also laid out our work area with lots of newspaper.  And I mean several overlapping layers.

Beeswax Painting

Finally we were ready to pour some wax. We wrapped dish towels around the jars to protect our hands.

Beeswax Painting

The initial pour was a little nerve-wracking because we didn’t know what we were doing.

Beeswax Painting

The second one was a bit better, and we started trying to move the wax around a bit before it hardened.

Beeswax Painting

Eventually we ended up with a solid layer covering all the white stuff.

Beeswax Painting

We didn’t end up liking the texture we’d put into the wax with our hands, but we did discover two interesting side effects. We discovered that when we poured the wax at the same time we got these cool marble patterns.

Beeswax Painting

And remember that water that got into the wax? Well it showed up again when we were at the bottom of the jars, and resulted in these neat bubbles.

Beeswax Painting

We decided to do a second layer of wax, now that we kind of had an idea about how this was supposed to go. While we waited for it to melt, I laid out where I thought our fishing net and line would go. It was easy to warm up the wax with a hairdryer and then simply press the net into place.

Beeswax Painting

The original plan was to make the fishing boat out of origami and then just press it into the warm wax, but we changed our minds and decided on an aluminum boat — because many of them are made out of aluminum in reality. Fortunately we had a few tin cans in the recycling and a nice pair of tin snips.

Beeswax Painting

We elevated one side of the canvas so that the wax would flow in the same direction. Gren helped.

Beeswax Painting

Then we poured, using lighter wax up where the sky would be and darker wax in the deeper part of the ocean. We poured some over the net as well to make it look partially submerged.

Beeswax Painting

A close-up of the marbling and bubbles in the boat’s “wake.” Those bubbles are full of water, not air, so we needed to pop them and dry out the water.

Beeswax Painting

While the wax was still warm, we cut it away from the stuff that spilled over the edges of the canvas using a sharp knife and a hairdryer to keep the wax pliable.

Beeswax Painting

Then I heated up a section of the wax and pressed in our little aluminum boat.

Beeswax Painting

The finished piece.

Beeswax Painting

We will be spraying it with a sealant to protect it from scratches (there is already a corgi foot print at the top of it) and then we will mail it home in time for Christmas!

Beeswax Painting

Crayon Rainbows, on Canvas

Crayon Art

YARRRRRRR!  We be makin’ ARRRRRRRRT t’day, matey!  It’s also International Talk Like a Pirate Day for the Pastafarian religion, and I *may* have recently watched the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies in a row.  Also, I live in Newfoundland, where people tend to talk like pirates on a daily basis.  It’s also the anniversary of the night the Pie and I went on our first date.  Eight years have gone by since that night, and so much has changed in our lives.  Crazy.  Tonight we are going to make ourselves a nice dinner and cozy up with our favourite orange, black and white wedding present, the inimitable Grenadier St. James.

Gren in Motion

In the meantime, however, why don’t you sit down and make yourself some pretty?

I saw a picture on Flickr of my cousin and his son making this particular project, and I thought it was so cool that I should try it on my own.  Then I discovered that this stuff is ALLLLL over the internet, especially Etsy, these days.  I’m no trendsetter, obviously.  Even so, I’m going to add to the plethora of posts about it, so that you can see it, Ali-style.

Crayon Art

Now, I’m being a real keener and starting my DIY Christmas gifts really, really early this year.  So I’ve pretty much taken over the dining room as my craft central, especially as now there is a large bed in my former office work space.

Crayon Art

For this project you will need some crayons (go with Crayola, it seems they melt the best), some glue (I used hot glue), a blank canvas (I used two small 5″ x 7″ ones, stacked, but you can use cardboard or wood or whatever you have on hand), and a hairdryer or other focused heat source.  I hear tell of people using paint strippers for this, but you really don’t need anything that hot.  Oh, and you’ll need newspaper or a drop cloth or something to protect the surrounding area from flying hot wax.

Crayon Art

For my first attempt at this, I thought I would go with a straight rainbow, before I got too fancy.  Plus I know someone who really loves rainbows, and this would make a nice little present.

Crayon Art

I started with the basic colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, and I laid them out on my canvas.

Crayon Art

Then I filled in the gaps with other colours in the spectrum.

Crayon Art

If Crayola has colours called things like this:

Crayon Art

Then why are they still naming colours like this?

Crayon Art

Then the question was, should I lay them out with their colour names facing up, or the Crayola logo facing up?  The Pie told me to go with the logo, because after everything is melted it will be easier to see than the smaller names.

Crayon Art

Then we glue.  I used hot glue on the crayon, and I only put it on the top half.  I wasn’t sure how it would deal with the melting wax, and I figured that most of the melting was going to go down on the lower half of the crayon.

Crayon Art

Then I used hockey tape to temporary secure my two canvases together.

Crayon Art

And I leaned it up against a shoebox (full of stuff, for weight) on top of my drop cloth and newspaper.

Crayon Art

Then I started in with the hairdryer, on its hottest and highest setting, focusing pretty closely on the bottom ends of the crayons.

Crayon Art

You can see how the wax tends to fly a bit.

Crayon Art

It took a while to get them started, but once they got going, they really got going.

Crayon Art

I liked how the wax crept around the sides of the canvas, and I wish I’d had a bigger one to work with.

Crayon Art

Let the wax cool and harden.

Crayon Art

Then you can hang it up, any which way you would like!

Crayon Art

Teacup Candles

This is a cute waste-not idea from Martha Stewart, but it’s been done by many others as well.  Teacups are ideal for this particular trick as they are already designed to withstand high temperatures, but you can use canning jars and other heat-safe containers as well.For my DIY Christmas I spent a lot of time scrounging second-hand stores for things I could use, and one day my mother happened upon a large quantity of beeswax sheets just there for the picking.

And yes, I picked.  I also picked up some old teacups and had some that were missing their saucers donated by my parents.

I had to buy some wicking from Michaels, and I found these handy wicks that were pre-waxed and already had the sustainer attached to the bottom.All I had to do was stand them upright in the cup and I was set.  Easy-peasy.

So you take your old candles, or your beeswax, or whatever, and you chuck it in a double boiler.  I used the equivalent of two sheets of beeswax for each cup.  Just tear ’em up and let them melt!Be patient.  It takes a little while.Make sure it’s completely melted before removing from heat.Now, very carefully, pour the hot wax into the cup. Leave that to sit a while. See that little blip of wax on the side of the cup?  Fuhgeddabowdit.  You can just chip it off once it’s set.If you return your waxy bowl to the still-hot pot you can wipe out the excess wax with a paper towel.This will mean you can experiment with other colours of wax as well.Once your candles are set and cooled you can trim the wicks to an appropriate length and give ’em all away!

Knit This

Do you have knitters in your family?  I do.  I am one.  Though not a very good one.

In any case, knitting needles are a remarkably easy thing to make (according to Martha Stewart) and they make a great little gift.

You can get doweling of several different thicknesses at any hardware or craft store. 

Saw the dowel to the desired length (my dowels were all 36″, so I cut most of my needles to 12″ lengths, though I did make a set of four 9″ double-ended needles).  Use a pencil sharpener to create a point.

Sand the dowels down to create a smooth surface that won’t catch on the yarn.  Make sure as well to dull the points a bit.  It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.  You can rub the needles with a bit of warm beeswax, just to protect them and let the wool slide a bit easier.

Then all you have to do is use a glue gun to put colourful buttons at the ends. 

And there you have it.  Tie them with some pretty ribbon and give them all away!

Or keep some.  Your choice.

 

Vinegar is Awesome

I will say it again: vinegar is awesome.

Aside from making good pickles, pure white vinegar is cheap and cleans pretty much everything.

It’s eco-friendly, has no long-lasting odour, and cuts through grease like you wouldn’t believe.

Spray some on baking soda in your oven and cut through baked-on grease like you’re a superhero without having to fumigate your kitchen.

Dilute it with water to clean  your counters and floors.  No more fancy sprays containing bleach or wax or other harmful chemicals.

Mix it with baking soda to bring back the bling in your jewelry.

Boil it for super disinfecting power or to deodorize a room.

Add it to your laundry for extra freshness.

Wash windows in an ammonia-free environment.  It works better than Windex.

I have a 4L jug of it that I keep under my sink, and which replaces most other harsh chemical cleaning products.  I think the huge jug cost me about two dollars.

I keep smaller vinegar containers around for ease of use.  I just funnel in some more vinegar when they run empty.

VINEGAR.  IS.  AWESOME.

You should get some.

Really.