28 April 2015
Krijtjes - a Dutch word meaning 'little crayons'
Merel Karhof is a product designer who was born in the Netherlands and is now based in London, UK. Her research-driven, process-led work focuses on color, material, variation and form, and has the acute ability to draw out the stories behind objects.
This practice finds its latest iteration in her take on 'krijtjes' - Dutch for 'little crayons'. Merel's krijtjes are made from a mix of natural beeswax and pigments from Verfmolen 'De Kat'. Verfmolen harness the power of the wind to grind their pigments, which are produced at their traditional windmill in the Netherlands.
The colors chosen by Merel each have a unique story:
1. 'Pannen Rood' Tile red - A terracotta red made from ground Dutch roof tiles
2. Triple burnt black - An ancient soot black made by burning liquid oils. The older manufacturing methods gave a greasy black, often containing a lot of tar. To remove these impurities, the blacks were burned again, giving the names 'single burnt', 'double burnt' and 'triple burnt black'.
3. Indian Yellow - This is a 20th century imitation of Hansa yellow. The original color was extracted from the urine of cows fed on mango leaves.
4. Sea green - This 20th century version is made from barium sulphate.
5. Ultramarine - Known as 'Blue Gold', Ultramarine was more expensive than gold during the Renaissance. First used in 6th century Afghanistan and introduced to Europe through Venice, the pigment found its most extensive use in 14th and 15th century illuminated manuscripts and Italian panel paintings, often reserved for the cloaks of Christ and the Virgin.
FOR THE MOLD YOU'LL NEED:
· Print of the mold template - you'll find the PDF below
· 1 transparent plastic sheet
· A craft knife or scissors
· Clear tape
· A cutting mat
· A metal ruler
FOR THE CRAYONS YOU'LL NEED:
· 5 different color pigments
· Beeswax in droplets
· 1 metal bowl (heat resistant) or pot that you don't mind getting dirty
· 5 strong paper cups
· 5 stirring sticks
· 1 tablespoon
· 1 teaspoon
· A hot plate (or easily controlled heating surface)
· Latex gloves
· Oven mitts
· A palette knife (optional but helpful)
- crayontemplate.pdf 214.9 KB
Print the PDF of the mold template and, with the image facing downwards, tape it to the transparent plastic. Please note that there are five templates in the file so you can do one crayon or 5 at a time.
Turn the plastic over so that you can see the template underneath. Using a craft knife or scissors, score the plastic along the dashed lines. Then cut out the template following the black lines.
Fold the plastic along the scored lines and tape the edges together. Make sure that you close the corners off tightly to avoid any leakage and then trim away any excess tape from the top.
If making all five crayons, repeat steps 1-3 four more times, making five molds in total. Place these onto a flat surface that you don't mind getting a bit dirty.
Putting on your latex gloves, spoon two tablespoons of blue pigment into a paper cup. Repeat this for each of your colors. You can make the color of the crayons more or less intense by adding more or less pigment.
Melt 15 tablespoons of beeswax in a metal bowl or pot over your hotplate. When it has completely melted, remove the pan from the hotplate, being careful to protect your hands - use oven mitts!
Put 4 tablespoons of melted beeswax into the cup containing the pigment. Stir these together until the temperature drops slightly and then pour the mix into the mold. You can experiment with this timing - the wax has to remain a liquid, but cannot be too thin as it has to set quickly after pouring to prevent the pigment from sinking to the bottom (although that can also have a nice gradient effect).
Having poured the wax, it may be that the bottom of the crayon is not completely straight. If you would like to flatten it, heat the palette knife on the hotplate for a few seconds (wear oven gloves for this and for the next step).
Still in its mold, hold the crayon on the hot palette knife for a few seconds, moving it around in circles. This will melt the wax slightly and give the crayon a flat surface.
The crayon must be completely cooled before you can remove it from the mold. Either set it aside in a cool spot or, to speed up the process, place it in some cold water for a few minutes. It should be cool in 10-15 minutes.
Repeat steps 5-10 to make the other four crayons; just take care to reheat the beeswax in between colors if necessary. When your crayons have completely cooled, remove the tape and plastic mold.
Your beeswax crayons are now finished! Give them a try to see the colors. If you would like your colors to be more or less vibrant, an added bonus of these materials is that you can very easily melt them again to add more pigment or beeswax.
As well as coloring and drawing with your homemade crayons, the shape of these krijtjes has been specially designed for playing and stacking. Test out the possibilities!