Our state was born in 1837. But the Great Lakes State’s only been getting its own official eight-day party since 1954! Michigan Week – which happens May 19-26 in 2012 – is a time to celebrate the state’s history, what makes it special, and the people who live here. Why not show your family’s own Mitten pride (and flex that true Michigander DIY grit) by making your own craft supplies, in time for the bash? Try these two cool crafts!
Michigan Repurposed Crayons
Melting broken pieces of crayons is a great way to recycle and make new, multicolor mega crayons. Instead of reaching for a muffin pan, grab some Michigan ice cube trays. They’re made right here in metro Detroit!
- Broken crayon pieces
- Michigan ice cube tray (you’ll get two per pack, so designate one for crafting use only; find the trays online at Michigan Ice Cube Trays or at Suhm-Thing in downtown Birmingham in Michigan)
- Silicone spray
- Cookie tray
- First, gather your crayon pieces. If you want similar-color crayons, separate them into color piles. Peel off any remaining paper wrappers on the crayons and break into small pieces. Just like when cooking, the wax will melt better and faster if the pieces aren’t huge.
- Spray the tray with silicone. Make sure to use a liberal amount: This will help the crayons come out of the molds much easier once they’ve cooled.
- Place your crayon pieces into each Michigan shape. The Upper Peninsula is too fragile to use as a crayon, so place your pieces in the Lower Peninsula only. The wax will still flow into the U.P. shape as it melts, but that’s OK.
- Once the tray is full, place on a cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet into the oven. Set your timer for 40 minutes. Depending on your oven, the crayons might need more or less time to melt. However, DO NOT increase the oven temperature. The ice cube tray can melt, too, if it gets too hot. Keep an eye on them! Once it looks like they’ve melted, remove the tray from the oven.
- Remove the tray from the cookie sheet and let the crayons cool completely.
- Once they’re cool to the touch, it’s safe to remove them. To do this, turn the tray over and run under very hot water. As the water heats up the bottom of the mold, you’ll see the crayons begin to pull away from the bottom. When this happens, press one Michigan at a time firmly to pop the crayon out. Don’t bang the tray – you might break them! Do this for each opening.
- Once the crayons have all been removed, you’re good to start coloring.
Michigan Hand-Carved Stamps
To keep your Michigan art supplies growing, try making your own carved stamps. Using linoleum-cutting tools, this project is perfect for older children and teens to make on their own, or for grown-ups to make as a gift.
Note: If you’re new to stamp carving, visit Utrecht in Royal Oak for all these supplies in one stop!
- Lino handle
- No. 5 large gauge
- No. 1 liner gauge
- Speedball Easy Carve blocks, smaller size
- Michigan peninsula templates (download the PDF at left)
- Small bowl (for collecting the carving scraps as you go)
|1. Start out by tracing your peninsulas onto the carving block (the UP is pictured). You’ll need to flip the design, so that it stamps the correct orientation! Once your design has been traced, you can trim the excess block area off with a pair of scissors. Give yourself about 1 inch all the way around the design.
2. To begin carving, loosen the jack on the lino and handle and place the No. 5 gauge as far as it will go into the jack. Tighten back up.
|3. Pushing the tool away from you, trace the state outline you made. Work slowly so that you don’t remove too much carving block. Trace around that area. Continue to do this so that you see the shape of the stamp take place.|
|4. Once you’ve made several carving loops around the initial design, it’s time to remove excess block areas. Push the tool away from you in different directions. Your goal is to have a low surface compared to the taller stamp area.
5. To work on intricate areas, use the liner gauge for small places around the peninsula design.
6. When you think you’ve removed enough, you’re all set.
|7. To plus-up the stamp, cut a piece of wood to the stamp’s finished size. Adhere to the stamp bottom with epoxy and let dry. Trace your design on the top of the block with a pen and then a marker.|