Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentines

...or How I Nearly Burned The Kitchen While Showing My Love In 7 Easy Sessions


I am a huge fan of homemade valentines and have been collecting ideas since LittleA was probably one. There is a file on my computer that I have added photo inspiration to for the past few years - waiting for this years Kindergarten Valentine Exchange. With the amount of crayons floating around our house - I knew when I saw the amazing heart crayons on goodknits that we would have to give them a try. Who knew it would be about seven tries...?


In short the project involves finding crayons - removing their wrappers - breaking them into smaller pieces - melting them in a heart shaped mold in a warm oven - let cool - enjoy beautifully colored tye-dye looking heart shape crayons. See simple enough! The best part was that I found the two pack of heart shaped silicone ice-cube trays at Target in the seasonal $1 bin.


We had lots of oil pastels around...so we gave that a go first....no good! Oil pastels were cheap and melted super quick into a muddled oily mess. Attempt two had us hunting through the house for crayons. We gathered them together. I used a knife to score the wrapper and LittleA pealed off the papers.


All lined up and ready to go. We were hoping to match up coordinating colors so that we did not end up with muddled colors again.


 We tried both a knife and a  meat tenderizer to break the crayons into bake-able bits. The knife made nice sized slices but hurt the hand after a bit. the meat tenderize did a great job making smaller bits when pounding on the crayons in a plastic bag. In the end though...we used the knife to create more uniform sized pieces that would melt a little slower.


We did a trial run...placed the silicone mold on my favorite old pan (great for crafting) for just in case spill over. Then I screwed up...turned the oven to 350. WAY TO HOT. This melted the crayon too quickly and also started to bake the mold. The kitchen smelled of nasty fumes. Windows and doors were flung open and the oven hood fan turned to high. Pan and mold were thrown out the back door into the snow to cool.


You can see the mold damage at the top of the mold shown on the left. So then I resorted to melting crayons in paper cups in the microwave. Once melted I would pour them into the mold to harden. This was really slow and at one point one of my paper cups turned brown and nearly started on fire.


After all that I had three whopping crayons...only 7 more hours of work to have enough for LittleA's 17 classmates. UGH!

So how about filling the molds - and then putting the mold in the microwave instead of the oven. Ahhh seemed a good idea...but no! The crayons along the edges heated faster then the middles so I had super hot wax in all four corners and no action in the middle. Eventually the one heart cavity gave out and a pool of wax oozed out a hole and covered the glass lazy susan in the microwave. Honest to goodness this was supposed to be an EASY project! On to my last ditch effort.


I was reluctant to use my good mini-muffin pan...but what is a desperate mom to do? I sprayed the heck out of the pan with pam in hopes that the crayons would pop right out when done. Into the oven they went...this time baked at 150 - 175 and I watched them closely so we could stop them when the colors were blended to our liking.


and what do you know...we finally found success. we gave up on the hearts but ended up with these nice little round crayon coins.


Here were some of the heart ones that did turn out...but the crayons solidified in weird stratified flaky layers they do not seem as nice or as shiny as the rounds. I give praise to the metal mold - it made all the difference.


Then we had to package them for class. I took inspiration from Chef Messy's monster valentines. I loved that her son took the time to write a thoughtful note about each of his classmates. I created a heart theme paper backer printed on cardstock. LittleA wrote each classmates name and signed her own name with a little heart.

We used double sided stick tape to adhere the crayons to the valentines. We had to use two pieces to get the right grip.

LittleA then took markers and made each crayon look like a little person. I added the thought bubbles complete with her own nice words about each classmate.


Some of my favorites read:
"you are elegant" 
"you make me laugh when you jump in fake volcanos"
"you are a sporty girl"
"you are a good friend"


I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer for the class party. Each classmate was so happy to try out the crayon. But the best was when some of the students told LittleA how very much they liked what she wrote about them. 7 hours of work and a near microwave fire - all worth it!