Simple ways to make your own art supplies

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By: Jim PennucciCC BY 2.0

Offbeat Home‘s Cat recently shared a tutorial she found on Oh My! Handmade Goodness for making your own sidewalk chalk that tickled my insides — I never realized how easy it could be to do something like this!

The idea of making your own chalk had me scratching my head and wondering: if you can make chalk, what other kind of art supplies can you make? I love the idea of creating the means of another creation — that is, constructing the materials you and your kiddos will then use to create art. Here are a few of my favorite arty recipes, starting with the chalk.

Making handmade chalk

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h3>What you need

(note: this will make three tubes of chalk)

  • Toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Wax paper
  • Small bucket or disposable container to make the recipe
  • ¾ cup of warm water
  • 1 ½ cups Plaster of Paris
  • 2-3 tablespoons of tempera paint
  • Paper bag or a “mess mat”
Photo used with permission from Oh My! Handmade Goodness.

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h3>How you do it

  1. If you are using paper towel tubes, cut each tube in half, so it is roughly the length of a toilet paper roll tube.
  2. Cover one end of each tube with duct tape to hold the contents in.
  3. Cut as many pieces of wax paper as you have tubes. Roughly 6 inches by 6 inches. Roll the wax paper loosely and insert into the tubes so as to effectively line the tubes. The top of the wax paper will be higher than the tubes. The wax paper liner will keep the chalk mixture from sticking to the cardboard tubes and will eventually be peeled off.
  4. Pour the warm water into your bucket. Sprinkle the Plaster of Paris over the water and stir the mixture with a plastic spoon. The Plaster of Paris starts hardening roughly within 20-30 minutes, so you need to work fast so that it does not harden too quickly.
  5. Next you will want to pour the tempera paint into the Plaster of Paris mixture and stir so that it is mixed thoroughly. If you would like brighter colors, add more tempera paint into the mixture. We wanted to make a variety of colors of chalk, so we spooned about 1/2-3/4 cup of Plaster of Paris in each separate container and mixed in the different tempera paint colors into each bowl. We ended up making six different colors and next time might mix more.
  6. Stand each tube with the tape side down on a cookie sheet/flat baking dish/box lid to make the project easier to transport to a drying location. Pour or spoon the colored Plaster of Paris mixture into the wax paper-lined tubes. Lightly tap the sides of the tubes to release the air bubbles (so you do not have holes in your chalk). After you have poured the mixture into the tubes, start another color. When done, trim the excess wax paper so that it is closer to the cardboard tube.
  7. It took three days for our chalk to dry. On the last day, we peeled off the duct tape so that the underside could dry. When the chalk dries, peel off the paper tubes and wax paper. Your chalk is ready!

Recycling and reusing crayons

What you need

  • Old crayon stubs
  • Knife for chopping
  • Aluminum foil
  • Oven-safe pan
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How you do it

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°F (65.6°C). Remove the paper from around the crayons and chop them into 1/4-inch pieces. You can either sort the colors by color family, or mix them up into piles of contrasting hues.
  2. Line your baking tins — you can find tins with all kinds of novelty shapes these days — with tin foil or foil baking cups, and place your crayon pieces in the molds.
  3. Place the tins in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the crayons have melted. Take the tins out of the oven to cool.

Making beeswax crayons

(note: Beeswax crayons easily rub into clothing. If you want to avoid stains, a little bit of isopropyl alcohol will go a long way.)

What you need

  • Beeswax
  • Soap (we use goat milk soap from a nearby organic farm)
  • Dyes (you can use food coloring or home-made)
Photo used with permission from Becoming Sarah.

How you do it

  1. Grate the soap. All of it. As though it were cheese.
  2. Melt the beeswax. Keep an eye on it. When the wax is too hot, it froths and spills and hardens everywhere. I use a saucier over low heat on the stovetop. The saucier is great, but be ye warned: it’s a pain in the ass to pour out. It dribbles and drops and hardens everywhere.
  3. Mix in the desired amount of melted soap, not exceeding a 1:1 ratio. The more soap you add, the harder your crayons will be which is good because soft crayons leave big globs of wax everywhere. But the more soap you add, the stickier your crayons get, too. Then crayons of different colors stick together in your cabinet and your fingers are sticky after coloring.
  4. Stir in your dyes until the beeswax is the color you would like. Be quick like a cobra, though, because the wax will begin to harden as you stir.
  5. Shape the beeswax. If your beeswax is still very liquid, you can easily pour it into silicone ice cube trays or a muffin tin. Then when it is thoroughly dry, you can pop the crayons out. A few days of letting your crayons sit will help them harden. If you would like more familiar crayon shapes, allow the wax to slightly harden. During the hardening, beeswax goes through a stage during which it is playdough-like. When it reaches this shape, you can roll chunks of it into long crayons and let them harden in that shape.
  6. Enjoy!

You guys — this is truly the tip of the iceberg. You can scoot on over to KinderART to get more art supply ideas than you could make in a month!

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