One of the downsides of not being an artist is that I am unfamiliar with many of the resources available to artists. I walk into the art store and suddenly feel very overwhelmed. I've always thought that crayons are just, well, crayons--not too much variation from one box to another, except for the color choices, of course.
Recently, however, I was perusing a natural toys catalog and noticed some interesting beeswax crayons made in Europe. The colors were vivid and pure, and the crayons themselves weren't shaped like any other crayon I'd seen--they were blocks. Reading the description, I learned that beeswax crayons (and in particular those made by the Stockmar company) are noted for their brilliance and color purity because they are mixed with pure beeswax. "The natural transparency of the wax and the lack of additives result in a high degree of opacity like that of watercolours," states the Treasure Box Toys website.
Now, not being an artist myself, I found the idea that my children and I could create beautiful art utilizing crayons as somehow not intimidating. I can do crayons! The block shape of the Stockmar crayons meant that they would be useful not just to my grade-schoolers, but also to my little ones with chubby hands. What surprised me, however, was the positive reaction my oldest children had.
Upon receiving a box of eight autumn-ish colors in the fall, I thought we could do some leaf rubbings to test the crayons' uses. My children each gathered several leaves and we set to work, using just plain white printer paper. The colors were very nice, and I liked the feel of the natural wax. The children (ages 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4) stayed very focused and busy, passing the colors around so each could see the results of the individual crayons. And then the surprise: my 12-year-old son who is not too terribly interested in art exclaimed, "These are nice. I don't mind using these crayons at all."
We all felt like artists. The leaf rubbings turned out very nice, with rich and saturated colors. We hung our artwork on the kitchen cabinets, and suddenly we had beautiful art adorning our kitchen.
Stockmar crayons are somewhat of an investment. A box of eight assorted colors runs 12.99, but we've found that they are almost impossible to break (unlike traditional crayons that get snapped by the four-year-old on a regular basis), and because of their appeal across the age spectrum, they are vastly more useful in our home than regular crayons. Viewing Stockmar beeswax crayons as an artist's medium somehow makes them worth the investment. After all, Picasso used crayons as a medium often, and his artwork sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars. You might be inspiring and equipping the next Picasso, right in your own home!
Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November 2007