Upcycle your old crayons and go treerubbing

Hiya Beautiful Creative Monkeys!

Maybe you’ve hugged a tree, but have you ever rubbed one? This togetherness idea combines Upcycling with an inside favorite –crayons— and an outdoor creation … tree rubbing wrapping paper.

Upcycling is a new term–not yet mainstream–that Webster’s Dictionary should consider as a new word for their next edition. Purposeful alike recycling, upcycling is a way to take something used or broken and transform it into something new and useful. This concept appeals to the creative monkeys at our house as I constantly find cut up tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls and other assorted would-be-recyclables, stashed under my daughters’ beds.

This week’s projects can be done in two parts, or combined for a nice full afternoon of togetherness. Upcycle some old crayons into new colorful ones, and then get out in your garden and rub your trees and you’ll end up with some really pretty wrapping paper. 

Supplies

♥ old crayons

♥ aluminium tinfoil baking cups

♥ Exacto or sharp knife (or you could skip this step and peel the wrappers by hand)

♥ baking tray

♥ preheat oven to 250° F/120° C

♥ paper for tree rubbings

As we constantly make crayons at our house for our craft fairs, we’ve got crayon prep down to an art, so I’ll share some special Monkey Chi Monkey Do secrets that will make your crayons turn out magnificently.

Ready? Ok, Turn off ALL mobile and electronic devices, ignore your home phone, and BE completely present with your loved one(s). Your full presence and undivided attention is a true gift to yourself and your monkeys, a present you all deserve.

Shhhh, here’s Monkey Secret #1: Put your crayons in the refrigerator for a couple hours ahead of project time. This will shrink the crayons a little and simplify wrapper removal.

When you’re ready to peel the crayons, preheat your oven to 250° F/120° C.

Using an Exacto knife, er wait, what’s that noise? EeEeEeEe—(Cue the announcer.)

WE INTERRUPT THIS TUTORIAL TO BRING YOU AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM SAFETY MONKEY.

Safety Monkey says, “EeEeEe … Safety First! Be careful and pLEeEeEeze… ADULTS ONLY should use Exacto knives! Monkey Chi Monkey Do projects should never wind up in the EeEeEemergency Room. EeEeEe, thanks.”

Got that? Ok, back to the fun stuff.

BeEeEe careful!Using an Exacto knife, CAREFULLY cut a straight line along the crayon wrapper seam. Pass crayons to your buddy to remove the wrappers. (Oooh and SAVE THE WRAPPERS! We have a future upcycling project that will transform these colorful little bitsies of paper into something beautiful.)

When the crayons are shivering, arrange several tinfoil cups on a baking sheet. Snap crayons in pieces and cover the entire bottom of cup–at least two crayon widths deep–to make nice chunky-sized crayons.

We sometimes sort by color, all greens in one cup, making one swirlywhirly green crayon. Experiment and have fun. Lay out an entire rainbow in one cup cover with another layer of color on top for a surprise crayon.

Monkey Secret #2: Preheat your oven and then SWITCH IT OFF when your crayons go in. This helps to reduce color and paraffin separation. (Sometimes when crayons melt, the color pigment and wax separate and you end up with a white film across the top of the crayon … a film that will not color. If you let too much heat out, you may need to turn the oven on again, but don’t leave it on above 200 otherwise crayons may smoke. (If you end up with a little film, not to worry, just take a veggie peeler and peel the edges down to the colorful part.)

Old crayon friends ready for melting? Okeydoke, now quickly place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven (250° F/120° C) and TURN OFF THE OVEN. This is more fun than watching grass grown, so stay near your crayons and watch them melt. It will take just a few minutes depending on your oven’s heat intensity, but do not leave them longer than necessary otherwise they may smoke. Once the crayons have melted and you no longer see any of the original shapes, carefully remove from oven and place somewhere away from oven to cool. If the monkeys are getting restless, you can place them in the fridge once they’re not burning hot to cool them faster (Abbey asked me to clarify  after posting this …. put the crayons in the fridge NOT the monkeys). Once cooled completely, they will easily pop out of the cups.

Dump them out and admire the new precious jewels YOU JUST CREATED! Good for you, you Upcyclers!

Here’s part 2. Grab some paper and head outside to start the treerubbing part. Place paper against tree trunk, grab crayon and rub the flat side against the tree. We also recommend hugging the tree too, it adds good Chi (energy) to the whole experience! When we went tree rubbing, we didn’t stop at trees. I think everything except our Jackson, our dog, was rubbed in our back yard, the picnic table, swing set, trees, leaves, toys.

We ended up not only with a gorgeous batch of colorful crayons, but a stack of beautiful paper that can be used as wrapping paper or source material for our next batch of thank you cards.

Next time, we’ll try colored paper, larger sheets, and also paper that’s already been used on one side—oh again with the UPCYCLING. We are so trendy!

What do you think of these ideas? Don’t you have a stash of old crayon friends just begging to be reborn as jewels? Are you going to use the word Upcycling in your everyday conversation? How bout tree rubbing … gonna give it a try? Come back or e-mail let us know how it goes.

Oh, and if you just found our blog, you can receive new ideas in your Inbox by entering your e-mail addy in the box at the top right-hand side of this page, then check your e-mail to confirm. We send one Monkey Musing per week, and –Monkey Promise– we won’t spam and will never give your e-mail to anyone else!

Sending you LOVE and wishes for a wonderful happy CREATIVE togetherness experience!

Becky and the Monks

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Piggy Art

Piggy Art

Hiya Creative Monkeys!

Yay! We have another fun make-it-together-idea to share: Piggy Art. Uh-oh…don’t let me lose you if you don’t love FEET.  I promise, the end result is not too feety at all. It’s beautiful and holds quite a few sweet metaphors.

Piggy Art is easy-peezy. In fact, this project is definitely for folks who may feel they are NOT creative. (BTW, this is not true and I’ll prove it in a future post.) No matter what happens, you will end up with something unique and colorful, made together with love.

This weekend the monkeys and I created a work of abstract expressionism. Oooooh, fancy sounding eh? Well—simply put—abstract expressionism is the art of taking paint and using your Chi (energy) to create something that may or may not be recognizable. You can’t go wrong.

This is fun, but a tad messy, so you really need to try to leave anxiety and any perfectionistic tendencies with your mobile devices. Yes, for MonkeyChiMonkeyDo projects NO nadda zip-O NIL cell phones or other gadgets are allowed. It’s time to disconnect from all that stuff and BE completely present with someone you love.

Supplies

20X24* blank canvas panel or X-Large poster board (look for craft store 40% off coupons in Sunday paper)
assorted washable or tempera paints
sponges or brushes for each color
papertowels or rags
hose or large tub of water (to wash those piggies)
your choice of background music
*any size will do

Paints and supplies-yes the paint came off our plates!Remember color blending from elementary school art class? If you’re buying paint, get the primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Have fun mixing them to get the perfect shades! This is magic to kiddos, um, and to grown up thrill seekers like me! Refresher: Red+Yellow=Orange, Yellow + Blue=Green, Blue+Red=Purple. You’ll need WHITE if you want to lighten the colors or make pink.

Everyone at our house was in on this project, including Jackson, our ginormous pooch! We created in the garage atop of a giant tarp, but it would be good to go outside and not worry about painted-paw prints and spills.

Mike's paws

I need a shave (just kidding)

Happy feet, I've got those happy feet!

We sat in a chair and took turns painting our own feet! After our soles were covered with thick paint, we put the canvas directly under our feet and stepped straight down.

Mike and Becky paw printsBe careful NOT to slip. Lean on each other while walking across.

Creating a sweet metaphor, we went in birth order -oldest first, each walking in a different direction. Our children’s footprints ended up atop ours and picked up the previously stamped colors. Yes, walking in our footsteps. Oh so sweet, don’t you think?

Polkadotted piggiesLittle toddler piggies...Mike’s were blue. Mine were rainbow. Abbey’s were polkadots and Emma’s were multicolors. Colin’s were green, but sad to say he did not enjoy paint on his feet! We ended with our dawgy, just one paw, as he felt the same as Colin about the whole thing.

Get along little dawgyI let go and went with the flow when we were doing this, no micromanaging or telling everyone where their feet should go. It was wonderful that the imprints got all warbled and smeared. If I had over-managed this activity, it would’ve turned out completely different. The result is a real showing of abstract expressionist art.

Piggy Art a la Monkey Chi Monkey DoVoila! My family’s beautiful creation! This piece captures an hour of our life together, an hour we can remember for years to come.

Well, what do you think of Piggy Art? Are you going to make some with someone you love? Oooooh, please come back for show and tell!

Sending LOVE and tons of creative Chi your way!!!!
Becky and the Monks

P.S. Oh, how I am thankful for our feet. They carry us everywhere, everyday, all our days. I love the unique prints they carry. Hand, finger and footprints are created by the amniotic waters rushing against the unborn baby’s skin.  That little tidbit makes me feel warm and fuzzy, I had to share.

Our Wabi-Sabi Gratitude Tree

Hiya Creative Monks!

Our first get-together-and-make-something project is a gratitude tree. It comes completely from nature (plus a bit of ink marker), and–when we’ve finished admiring it–it will be returned to nature. So very wabi-sabi of us!

What is Wabi-Sabi you ask?

Wabi-Sabi is Japanese expression that doesn’t really have an English equivalent. Wabi-Sabi describes the subtle beauty of imperfect, impermanent and incomplete things, things that are simple and humble. It’s not really a design style, but rather a way of thinking or being with things.

As so many families have battoned the financial hatches and returned to reusing things or doing without, I thought this was a perfect first project for us to share. It brings the outside indoors, and needs no supplies.

Everyone at our house has so much to be thankful for. We strive to live with thankful hearts and talk about the things we feel gratitude for. As a mom I’m aware my daughters constantly mind record everything I say. I focus my words on being thankful for what we have, instead of spending any energy on the things we are without. As time goes by we create more of what we focus upon, in this case abundance, not lack.

We decided to find a place to showcase the things in life for which we are thankful on our wabi-sabi looking Gratitude Tree.

Get with your family or special friend and go to the nearest woodsy area and look for a felled tree branch. (Best not to break a limb of a living tree, as you may end up harming the tree.) Look for a pretty big one, with lots of little offshoots to hang your leaves on. Emma founds ours…

While walking back, pick up lots of different fallen leaves. We found some that still had some moisture, so they wouldn’t disintegrate to quickly on our tree.

Take your treasures home and find a good spot to showcase your thankfulness. (With our youngest monkey, Colin, being 17 months, we needed a place that was up and out of reach, so we put it by the front door in a large vase.) We put the leaves in a small basket and set out a couple water-based markers to write our thanks on the leaves, when the spirit takes us. Leaves can be threaded through the branches, or tied onto the twigs by making knots in the leaf stems.

Voila! So very wabi-sabi, perfectly imperfect! So far Abbey and Emma have fun adding their leaves of thanks before my hubby or I have added any, that way we don’t skew them into our ideas. It’s been so beautiful and insightful to see the first things they’ve come up with! So far the girls are thankful for
Life, My Daddy, My crazy Dog Jackson, My Silly Brother, My Yummy Dinner, Toilets, the World, Air, Sleep, Food, Our Neighbors and Trees.

Are you going to create a Wabi-Sabi gratitude tree with someone you love? Oooooh! Please come back here and post pictures so others can see what YOU and yours are thankful for.

Sending big LOVE and lots of creative energy your way!
Becky and the Monks

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