I just spent the last few hours with my son making crayons with the Crayola Crayon Maker™. Santa thought that would be a fun activity for Z. Of course he knew I had some ideas about using it as too, and that made it a no brainer! Now, will it live up to the hype and expectations of a 6 year old (box recommends for 8+) and a crafty mom?...
The machine takes a 60-watt candelabra bulb. No biggie, except the bulbs I had on hand were 25 and 40-watt. So we had to wait for a store run to get the bulb. Wish I had checked that before hand. But the boy was so busy with all his toys on Christmas that waiting for this one wasn't too painful! The bulb is easy to insert. Just a few screws on the top of the machine and you're in. The instructions say do not over tighten. Replace panel and screws and you are ready to go. It's that simple. It's a plug-in unit so there are no batteries. Bonus! You just have to be careful of where you use the unit as it does take about 30 minutes for the melting a cooling process, so it's a good idea to have it somewhere the cord will not be a hindrance.
First gather all the broken bits of crayons you have. The kit comes with 8 crayon, 2 each of red, yellow, green and blue. But surely you have a pile of pieces! Now here is where I get to interject the "I told you so" from the instructions... it says to only use Crayola crayons in the machine. I had to test that little bit of advice right off the bat. After all, a crayon is a crayon right? Wrong. (Ok, I actually already knew that... but I had to try it anyway to see what would happen =) It's true, the Crayola crayons are a much better product (than those you get from restaurants and dollar store and such). The non-Crayola crayons don't melt as smoothly and end up kind of bubbly and goopy. They don't set as well either. So stick with the Crayola for this machine and use the others for wax-paper stained glass projects! (Hmmm... perhaps another post to come soon with the how-to on that!)
Ok, so you have your Crayola crayons de-papered, broken into smaller bits if necessary and are ready to go. There are two trays to work with and each makes two 1/2 sized crayons. Just in case you were thinking that you were going to get full sized crayons like the box seems to indicate. A little bit misleading. The kit comes with two holders so you end up with a full sized crayon that can be different colors on each end. I'm hoping that you can get these little holders separately, but on a quick look I didn't find them.
For each tray you need enough pieces to amount to two full sized crayons. This is where you get to be a little creative with the colors you end up with. You also have to use your basic color mixing knowledge. Red + Yellow = Orange. Blue + Yellow = Green. Red + Blue = Purple. Orange + Blue = Brown. Etc. If you put a wide spectrum of colors together you will get muck every time. The instructions say to use mostly light with a little dark. We used a pretty even amount of Red and Yellow with a hint of Pink in one tray and an even amount of Red and Blue with a hint of Pink in the second.
Now you are ready to make the crayons! Shut the see-through lid and turn the lever to turn on the bulb and start the melting process. The lid locks at this point so little curious fingers can't open it and get burned. That 60-watt bulb heating up the metal plate and trays does get hot. Adult supervision for little ones is a good idea! Older kids should be able to handle it with no problems. Once the time is set you get to sit there and watch wax melt. =) It takes about 15-20 mins. The instructions say you can give it another 1/2 turn if after the first round if the crayons aren't fully melted. We had to do this with the non-Crayola crayons (don't do that!) but the Crayola melted perfectly in the time allotted.
Once the timer gets to the part where the bulb turns off it's time to tip your trays up to pour into the molds. Easy! Six year old handled that like a champ! Then you get to wait another 10 mins for the timer to fully stop and the crayons to cool down. The lid unlocks and everything is cool enough to handle. We found that they still weren't quite cool enough to take out of the molds at that point and put them in the fridge for a while. Meanwhile we tore the paper off some more crayons to get ready for the next batch.
Once the crayons are completely cool, open the mold and the crayons pop right out. Place one piece on each side of the holder and color away! Even though the first batch was made with inferior crayons it was still fun to see what colors came out as you drew. They colors don't perfectly blend together so you get a swirly effect and one minute you are coloring with a dark orange and the next a lighter orange. The purple we mixed went from red-purple to indigo. You have the potential for lots of vivid combinations! Crayola even has some color combinations you can try here Color Recipes
Over all, I give this little gadget a thumb and a half up. I am reserving the other half for the 1/2 sized crayons. It would have really been fun to have full sized crayons and make your own labels for them. I think the draw of making your own crayons and the "science lab" aspect is super cool. It puts you in the realm of being creative not only with the material output but in the process of making those materials. It's a lesson in mixing color and a real time experiment for "how stuff is made". It does take quite a bit of time to make four half sized crayons buy there will always be broken crayons and rainy or snowy days that need to be occupied!
I know, I know... a pumpkin? We made orange and purple... of course pumpkins! =)
If you HURRY you can get a $3 rebate from Crayola. Must be purchased by 12/31. And the Crayon Maker is on sale on the Crayola site for $21.99. Santa got ours at Target for $24.99. You can also check your local hobby stores. Be sure to look for their discount coupons. Hobby Lobby often has 40% off coupons on their web site. Michael's has 40% off mail circulars and Joann has online and flyer coupons, plus they accept both Hobby Lobby and Michael's coupons!
I hope you have enjoyed this review and found it helpful. If you have or get a Crayola Crayon Maker™ I'd love to hear your thoughts and experience. This post was not sponsored by Crayola®. I have not been paid to write this post. I genuinely wanted to provide my opinion of the product. =)