Melted Crayon Art with a Warming Tray

Melted Crayon Art (and Why a Warming Tray ROCKS for This Art Activity)

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Melted crayon art is one of our favorite kids art activities, but we weren’t doing it right until now. A thrift-store warming tray makes all the difference!

Melted Crayon Art with a Warming Tray

This post contains affiliate links.We’ve been big fans of melted crayon art forever.

We’ve been using this art technique ever since I first came across the idea in one of MaryAnn Kohl’s books.

What we were not using was the right tools.

The instructions called for a warming tray which I did not have, didn’t see at the store, and couldn’t find secondhand (I may not have tried hard enough).

And so we ad libbed with the “cookie sheet method,” which actually worked quite well. If you don’t have access to a warming tray, I recommend you try melted crayon art on a cookie sheet.

The cookie sheet method for melted crayon art

However!

I came across a vintage warming tray at Goodwill recently and knew it was time to revisit melted crayon art the “proper” way.

We liked melted crayon drawings before.

But now? We’re obsessed.

Daphne hasn’t stopped making them.

Melted Crayon Art as Stained Glass

Our studio windows are covered in their colorful stained glass magnificence.

And she’s even been writing notes and letters using the warming tray.

The nice thing about the warming tray is that it’s consistent, safe, and effective.

Melted Crayon Art - Using a Warming Tray

You can work safely for hours if you wanted to, creating melted crayon drawing after melted crayon drawing.

  • No need to reheat the cookie sheet every few minutes.
  • No need to keep an oven on.
  • And no need to protect the table with towels or the child’s hand with pot holders.

I like the warming tray method so much that I wish I had tried harder to find one before. I bought mine secondhand, but you can also get them new.

Here’s a video I created showing melted crayon art in action…

And here are the step-by step-instructions and photos…

Melted Crayon Art with a Warming Tray

You can do melted crayon drawings on a hot cookie sheet, too, as I mentioned earlier, but a warming tray is easier and more effective.

Melted Crayon Art with a Warming Tray - Materials Needed

MATERIALS

*I bought my warming tray at a thrift store, but you can also get them new. I’ve seen them at places like Target and online on Amazon.

INSTRUCTIONS

Melted Crayon Art with a Warming Tray - Setting Up

Step 1 :: Set Up

  • To set up for melted crayon art, you’ll want to cover your warming tray with the foil. (I used an 18 inch wide roll of Heavy Duty Reynolds Wrap, but I think any aluminum foil would work fine.This will protect the warming tray and also make clean up easy. I wrapped my foil around to the back and added a little tape to help hold it, but I think it would stay in place fine without.
  • Plug your warming tray in and turn the heat to low or medium.
  • Set a sheet of paper on the surface.
  • Have your crayons nearby and ready to use.

Step 2 :: Draw on warm paper + tray.

Use your crayons to draw on the warm paper and tray. The crayon will melt as you draw, creating a paint-like effect of vibrant color.

Melted Crayon Art with a Warming Tray

Continue to draw until you are finished with your artwork.

My kids made some melted crayon artworks that completely covered with the colorful melted crayon. And they made some that still had plenty of white paper showing.

Step 3 :: Remove Melted Crayon Artwork from Tray

When the artwork is deemed complete, remove it from the tray.

Step 4 :: Make Another!

Lay another sheet of paper on the tray and continue to make melted crayon art as long as you like! As I said earlier, Daphne kept at this for hours and days.

Melted Crayon Art Hanging in a Sunny Window

Step 5 :: Display in the Window

You can display your melted crayon drawings anywhere, but they have a wonderful stained glass effect with light shining through them. I taped ours to our studio window.

Melted Crayon Art - Daphnes Sky with Clouds

You can see Daphne’s swirly Sky with Clouds artwork above as well as a close-up detail of it back lit in the window.

Gorgeous!

How about you? Have you tried melted crayon art with your kids? Or did you do this as a child yourself?

Remember, you can do this with a cookie sheet. But I do recommend keeping an eye out for a warming tray, if you don’t already have one. The warming tray takes this technique to a whole new level and make it much easier and more effective!

More Ideas for Melted Crayon Art

More Ideas to Try with Melted Crayon Art

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Melted Crayon Art for Kids with a Warming Tray

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Kristen
    April 19, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Have you ever tried this with an electric griddle? I wonder if it has a low enough setting for it to be effective. Warming trays are expensive and I don’t have time to shop at second hand stores regularly enough to find one.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 20, 2017 at 6:04 am

      I haven’t tried it with an electric griddle, but if you have one, why don’t you give it a try on the lowest setting? And then check back here and leave a comment so the rest of us know! Thanks, Kristen!

    • Reply
      Michelle R. Selui
      April 21, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      I was thinking the same thing when I saw your warming tray. We will try it out and let you know how it goes….

      • Reply
        Jean Van't Hul
        April 21, 2017 at 4:16 pm

        Great! Give it a try and let us know, Michelle! I imagine if there’s a relatively low setting on the griddle, it should be totally fine. :)

    • Reply
      Tricia Little
      April 27, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      We use a cast iron griddle on our gas stove set to the lowest setting. It’s still a burn risk, so it’s got to be supervised very carefully, but we don’t use pot holders or anything.

      Also, glitter crayons are amazing for this project.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 21, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    This looks so fun! I found a vintage warming tray on sale on Esty :) Can’t wait to try it out.

  • Reply
    Abi
    April 21, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Oh my – I LOVE Sky With Clouds, and the huge flower too! I had sworn off crayon melting following a disastrous project using a hairdryer. Daphne’s work has inspired me to try again if I can find something to use.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 22, 2017 at 6:04 am

      Oh! That’s so funny, Abi! I had forgotten about melted crayon art with hairdryers.

      Yes, definitely give this one a try. Even if you just use the cookie sheet method!

  • Reply
    Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon
    April 22, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Thank you so much, Jean! Shared it with my GoMommyGO Facebook page!
    :)

  • Reply
    Jeanine
    April 22, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Jean! Amazing as usual! And thanks to you melted crayon posts of the past, we found a warming tray ourselves at local second hand store, $5! Also we bought copy of Mary Art book as well! One of the best kids art books we have purchased. Thank you for sharing so much great stuff with us!!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 25, 2017 at 5:06 am

      You’re so welcome, Jeanine! And I’m so glad you were able to find a warming tray second hand! Have you tried it yet?

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    April 23, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    I wonder if a heating pad under a cookie tray would work? This looks cool but I don’t want to buy more clutter!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 25, 2017 at 5:09 am

      Maybe. I’m not sure, Lindsey. You could give it a try and let us know. :)

      The cookie sheet method of putting it in the oven and working on the hot cookie sheet *does* work, even if it is a bit less convenient. So you could always do that if the heating pad doesn’t.

      Also, if you find a warming tray at the thrift store, you could pick it up for a couple weeks of melted crayon art and then pass it on to a friend, give it to a preschool, or donate it back to the thrift store. To give the activity a try and avoid the clutter issue. :)

  • Reply
    Jane
    May 2, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Would this work directly onto wax paper for a better stained glass effect, or would the paper melt?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      May 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      The stained glass effect is pretty remarkable on regular paper, Jane! I’d worry about all the wax on the wax paper melting off and causing a problem, but if you give it a try, let us know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Kani Poly
    May 11, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Ahhhh. So cool. I have to try it!!!

  • Reply
    Julia
    May 15, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    I tried it with an electric griddle on warm (or between warm and off) and it worked well!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      May 17, 2017 at 7:17 am

      That’s great, Julia! Thanks so much for letting us know!

  • Reply
    Shaunna
    October 3, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Awesome! I don’t have a warming tray but I do have an electric griddle so this will be on our crafting list for this coming weekend. My granddaughters will love it!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      October 4, 2017 at 5:13 am

      Sweet! I hope you and your granddaughters enjoy the melted crayon art, Shaunna!

  • Reply
    D
    January 26, 2018 at 1:07 am

    How hot does a warming tray get? Seems like little ones could get easily burned. And it’d be difficult to keep them from touching the surface. Sounds risky.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      January 26, 2018 at 5:38 am

      You can adjust the heat on ours and it didn’t seem to get too hot even when cranked up. I don’t have experience with other warming trays, though, so I guess just use your best judgement. I’ve always had talks with my kids about safety when using heat in art and in cooking and have never had a problem. Sometimes in the past they would use a mitten type potholder on the non-drawing hand.

  • Reply
    Elena
    February 5, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Good news: I found a warming tray at a garage sale this summer!!! Bad news: I haven’t brought it into class yet because I have yet to figure out the logistics of 1 warming tray + 18 kids with only 1 hour MWF to let them color at their pace. So, still on the lookout for another 1 or 2 trays. I’ve tried it and it is awesome!!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 12, 2018 at 4:27 am

      Good news, indeed! Perhaps have a side table with 1 or 2 warming trays for kids to come work on in between other projects?

  • Reply
    jwg
    February 6, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve been doing this since 2001 on the same warming tray. It just gave up but I have a new one standing by. Be aware that the quality of the crayons makes a big difference. I tried a couple of house brands instead of Crayola and the colors just weren’t intense enough. I like the technique of having the kids draw on foil and then take a “print” with a piece of white cotton. Old sheets work well! You get a batik effect. There’s often enough color left on the foil that you can display it next to the cotton print.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 12, 2018 at 4:24 am

      Thanks for sharing! We did prints on paper, but not on cotton. I’ll definitely give that a try next time we get the warming tray out. Thank you!

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