It may not look like it, but this basket of worn-out crayon ends from the local thrift store (pictured right) was an incredible find. There are so many things you can make with these colorful little wax cylinders, apart from of course carefully coloring in those detailed drawings in a grown-up coloring book.
Repurpose crayons? Well – you could for example:
- Drop a candle wick in an old mason jar, melt down a handful of crayons, mix in a few drops of essential oil, and create a beautiful, fragrant candle.
- Melt the old ends of matching colors together by cooling the wax in the bottom of a muffin tin to make it round.
- Melt the wax and layer it to make rainbow crayons, cooling the wax in anything from ice cube trays to cookie mold tins to make unique shapes.
Your imagination is your palette. Color your world.
Repurpose with a purpose
The DIY idea project we’re doing today is one of my absolute favorites because it goes beyond the wax to use all that gorgeous color to dye fabric. Yes, it is OK to color on your clothes this time!
Today we’re going to outline how to repurpose an old scarf into a beautiful tapestry of colors using – you guessed it – crayons. It’s a fun fashion forward DIY idea project you can do at home. And, we’ve got lots of big, beautiful pictures to illustrate (sorry, we couldn’t resist) just how!
The Crayon-Dyed Scarf
This process is pretty much a take on batik fabric dying. By melting the wax and applying it to fabric, then removing the wax, we can create gorgeous patterns and breathe new life into old garments.
Take this scarf, for example.
I don’t do pink—or at least, not Pepto-Bismol pink—so before I dyed this, I gave it a quick bath in a color-removing solution, which you can find in the same section of the store as fabric dyes.
I used the stovetop method in the instructions on the package, which takes about half an hour. The result left a few little streaks of pink here and there, but since we were going to be dying the whole piece, I didn’t mind; I knew those streaks would blend in nicely.
Coloring Your Scarf: 2 Options
The next step can go one of two ways, depending on how detailed you want to get in your artwork:
- You can break your crayons up and sort by like colors in a muffin tin. Heat some water over the stove and float the muffin tin in it until the wax melts. Then, paint the melted wax onto your garment using disposable paint brushes or Q-tips. Since the wax tends to harden when taken away from the hot water, I just did my painting in the kitchen near the stove. However, if you have a crockpot, you can fill it about halfway with water and float your crayon wax muffin tin in that, instead, to keep the wax melted while you work.
- You can grate your crayons, sorting by like colors, and artfully arrange the granules on your garment. Once everything looks good, you can melt the crayon over the fabric by layering it between sheets of aluminum foil and either ironing it or using a blow dryer set on high heat.
TIP: If your pattern is rather “free,” like ours was, you can quickly do a light melt of the wax with a blow dryer or iron, then roll the scarf up tightly between sheets of aluminum foil and set the whole kit-and-kaboodle in the oven on warm (about 170 degrees) for five minutes until the wax is really melted.
Since my three-year-old was assisting me on this project, we decided to go for the second method so he could scatter the grated crayon over the scarf to his heart’s content.
If you don’t have the time to grate each crayon down to a melt-able size, you can do what I did and use the “shred” disk on your food processor, being sure to remove the paper wrappings on the crayons before you drop them in. The waxy leftovers come off the equipment after a good soak in some hot water, though it does dull down the blades just a touch.
Crackle? Up to you
The next two steps are entirely up to you. Unless you’re incredibly careful with your scarf, the cooling wax will break here and there, leaving little spider veins of the scarf’s original color in your final product. You can choose at this point to increase that crackle effect by scrunching up your scarf once the wax is dried, or just leaving it as is.
Dye the rest
If you want to dye the entire scarf instead of just adding color to it with your crayon work, you can finish the rest by dying the whole piece with fabric dye. Just follow the instructions that come with the dye, particularly paying attention to the fact that you only need to use hot water, not boiling water, for the dye process. Hot water shouldn’t affect the crayon wax while boiling water, might cause the wax to melt.
Remove the wax
Once the wax has cooled, it’s time to remove the dried-on wax to reveal the color underneath. To do this, grab a stack of newspapers or old paper bags, layering one underneath your garment to soak up any melting wax, and placing another piece on top. Slowly run an iron over the paper until the wax melts through, making sure any steam function is turned off.
Do this repeatedly until no more wax melts through the paper. For me, this took about nine sheets of paper per section, though I’ve done a couple garments that took up to 15, depending on how thick the wax is.
Once the fabric feels soft and wax-free, run it through the wash one time on its own just to make sure everything is set and you’re done! Wear your scarf proudly, knowing that you took something old (crayons) and something not-quite-your-taste and turned them into something wearable and lasting. And if you had a chance to do this fun project with a loved one, you not only have a lovely new scarf and the memories of time together, but a precious new keepsake, as well.
Ready to tackle another DIY idea project? Check out our colelction of other DIY ideas.
Kristin Hackler writes about fashion and upcycling for eBay, a great place to buy and sell used clothing to reduce your impact on the earth.