Saturday, August 22, 2009
Birthday Gifts You Can Make - Part Two - Crayon "Cakes"
Crayon "cakes" are the second craft we made for our friend Aven's third birthday. These are so simple and they help a child to reduce, reuse, and recycle because they can take all their crayon stumps and make them into a sort of super crayon.
These crayon cakes draw raves from both kids and adults a like. They do not roll so they are awesome for plane rides, car rides, going out to eat... And the top part of the cake ends up being wax that rises to the top and separates from the color in the wax, so when you put the cakes right side up the non color part of the cake is on the table, so they don't leave colored wax on whatever you set them on.
Sooooo, let's get started...
How To Make Crayon Cakes
You will need:
- Old crayons
I collect bags of crayons when I see them at the thrift store. I also take crayons home from restaurants that give each child a new package of three crayons when they come for dinner. Then, of course, there are the crayons we use at home. It is difficult to say how many you might need. It depends on how many finished cakes you want and the size of your crayon numbs. I would say you need about 18 one inch crayons pieces per muffin pan that makes 6 muffins, and maybe 12 one inch crayon pieces per muffin pan that makes 12 muffins. Just experiment the first time. Wax crayons are better than soy, and they say not to mix them, but I really don't pay any attention to what mine are made of and I have not had a problem.
- Silicon or metal muffin pans
My mother gave me a ton of silicon pans that are shaped (snowflakes, jack o lanterns, Christmas trees) and while I gave them a whirl for making muffins, they never cooked right and made the muffins taste like plastic... I was a bit leery of the thought of baking in silicon anyway. Since I like to find new uses for the things I own, I turned them into our crayon cake making pans. Metal pans work fine, too, and you can often find them in various shapes and sizes for a very reasonable prices at the thrift store. I would not use silicon pans for baking food after making crayon cakes in them, and I am not sure what to say about using metal ones for both purposes. I have a different set of metal pans I use for crayon cakes and non food molds. You do not need oil either type of pan. The cakes will pop right out when they have cooled and hardened.
- Baking sheet
- Cooling rack
Making the Cakes
1) Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
2) Gather your crayons and put them in a water proof container along with warm water (if the water is too hot the crayons will start to melt). After a minute or two you can pour out the water. The paper around the crayon should now come off very quickly with little effort (I wish I would have thought of this step the first few times I made these. It would have saved my husband, child, and I, a lot of peeling time!). Remove all the paper from your crayons.
3) Do not oil your pans. Break crayons into approximately one inch pieces. There is a lot of leeway here, so find your own way you like to do things. I tend to put many shades of the same color into each tin, so maybe 5 kinds of green, from hunter to seafoam, all in the same tin. You can also do something like all the primary colors together like red, blue, and yellow. Some colors seem to mix together and get muddy while others stay apart. In theory, if you let them melt and don't stir them or jostle them, they should stay separate. Just have fun and experiment. If using many colors, try to mix them so that all the pieces of one color are not together. Do not over fill the tin. Stop filling when the pieces are just below the top. They will melt down to a thickness of about half of the pan.
4) Put the pan on a baking sheet, just in case anything melts over. Put the pan and sheet in the oven and turn the heat off. Leave the pans in the oven and check the progress of the cakes melting. You do not need to watch over them. Just do what you like and check them occasionally. Once they look completely melted remove them from the oven and put the sheet on a cooling rack or trivet. Once the cakes have hardened you can pop them out of the pan.
5) Stack three cakes or more together and tie with a ribbon, jute, raffia, whatever you like. I save all the ribbon and decorations we get on gifts for this purpose. You can attach a little tag or include a recipe card with the gift that tells the recipient how to make their own crayon cakes.
You can make a coloring book out of computer paper to go with the cakes. You can trace over the images in coloring books using carbon paper or by holding the page and paper on the window like using a light box. Or you can draw simple line drawing by hand. Gather together your pages and cut a front and back cover from decorative paper. Using a hole punch, punch two holes on the left side on the top half of the page and two holes on the bottom half. Pass ribbon through the holes and tie. Yes, coloring books are cheap, but this way you can tailor the drawings to the little one's interests. And who would not like a special coloring book made just for them?
One last post on making birthday gifts to come... stay tuned. For the first project, Play Dough, click here.