Artsy Things How to Make Modeling Beeswax

Published on May 29th, 2011 | by Julie Finn

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How to Make Modeling Beeswax

How to Make Modeling Beeswax

Modeling beeswax is a lot of fun, and your kids can learn quite a bit from helping you make a batch. Here’s how to make modeling beeswax from all natural ingredients!

Most of our homeschooling happens through hands-on activities. Baking bread involves the math of the measurements, the science of the yeast, the history of growing wheat, the geography of different types of loaves. Watercolor painting involves the art of the color wheel, the biographies of other artists who have painted in watercolor, the science of color mixing and how not to make one’s colors look like mud.

When my girls and I make modeling beeswax together, we follow my recipe using math skills, but we also have time to relax and enjoy the warm honey scent of melted beeswax. We can think about color theory, or just dye the liquid modeling wax whatever colors please us the most. We can talk about bees and the work that they do, or we can simply talk about our day as we warm the wax in our hands and craft our favorite sculptures. In other words, we can learn and we can play, which is how I best like our days to go.

Store-bought modeling beeswax is wonderful to play with, but it’s also expensive. With the following recipe, you can make your own modeling beeswax just as naturally for a fraction of the cost, and soon you, too, can be learning and playing and creating for your best day.

How to Make Modeling Beeswax

To begin, heat a pound of beeswax in a double boiler or crockpot until it’s melted. Our modeling beeswax will be made using food-grade ingredients, so you can use your kitchen crockpot for this recipe, but if you have a thrifted crafts-only crockpot, such as the one that I used when I demonstrated how to make hot-process soap, then so much the better.

To your melted pound of beeswax, add the following ingredients:

  • five tablespoons of olive oil
  • four teaspoons of lanolin

Lanolin can be found in a farmer’s co-op, natural parenting store, or any other place that sells organic wool or caters to farmers. As you can perhaps tell, the lanolin that I’m using is from the baby aisle of my big-box grocery store–it’s the last of a tube of nipple cream that I bought when I first began breastfeeding my firstborn daughter. I used it so sparingly during the approximately five years that I nursed two kids that I had plenty left over to use for modeling beeswax!

How to Make Modeling Beeswax

Now, this recipe may not be completely accurate for you the first time, because beeswax is quite variable in quality and consistency. Now that I always buy my beeswax from the same woman at the farmer’s market I’ve been able to standardize my recipe, but you may need to play around a little with the amount of your ingredients. The best way to see if your recipe is sound is to turn off the heat and let your modeling beeswax solidify right in the pot.

Once it’s cool, serve yourself up a spoonful, warm it in your hands until it’s supple, and begin to play with it. If the modeling beeswax is hard to make supple, or it crumbles in your hands, then add more olive oil a tablespoon at a time AND more lanolin a teaspoon at a time. If the modeling beeswax works but it’s sticky, then add only olive oil, a tablespoon at a time. It’s unlikely that your modeling beeswax will be too supple and refuse to hold its shape when molded, but if that is the case for you, then add more beeswax, a quarter-cup at a time.

How to Make Modeling Beeswax

When you’re happy with the quality of your modeling beeswax, you may now color it. To do so, remelt the modeling beeswax in its original pot. You can play with natural dyes, but I find it quick, easy, and effective to simply color my modeling beeswax with soy crayon rocks. Grate one soy crayon rock and scoop the shavings into a plastic container that’s on its way to the recycling bin, anyway. Pour one cup of melted modeling beeswax into the container, and stir well to melt the shavings and combine them with the modeling beeswax.

How to Make Modeling Beeswax

To divide the modeling beeswax, pour the cup of colored wax into a muffin tin with cupcake liners inserted. One cup will divide nicely into six cupcake liners.

Repeat to create all the different colors that you want (don’t forget to leave some plain!), and let them cool completely in their cupcake liners.

How to Make Modeling Beeswax

When the modeling beeswax is completely cool, you can store it in its cupcake liner. To play with it, peel it away from the liner, admire how delicious it looks–like a colored Reese’s Cup!–and hold it in your hands to warm it up.

Warming up the beeswax so that it’s supple enough to mold takes several minutes. My girls don’t have the patience to warm up a whole piece by themselves, and anyway it would just take them longer in their tiny little hands, so I warm their modeling beeswax for them, then give it to them when it’s almost ready, so that they only have to do a little work before they can begin to play.

The last time that we all played with modeling beeswax, out in the sunshine in front of my Papa’s house, Willow and I made this red and blue dragon, and Willow crowned it with flowers and enthroned it on a tree stump. What will you make?

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • Nana

    Hi, Thank you for this easy recipe, I’d like to know if it is air dry or not. Thanks

    • Pumpkinbear

      Modeling beeswax relies on warmth to make it malleable. When you stop touching it with your warm hands, it will firm up and remain as firm as any other clay without drying out. If you rewarm it, however, perhaps by soaking it in a bowl of warm water, it will regain its malleability, allowing you to re-use it.

  • http://mysparemoments.blogspot.com/ Kathy

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve been seeing the beeswax clay, but everyone seemed to be using stockmar. We have our own bees, so ‘naturally’ I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making some.

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      I do like Stockmar modeling beeswax, too, but yeah–if I can make something myself, then I DO!

  • http://donmation.blogspot.com Don Carlson

    Hi,

    I just wanted to pop in and thank you for the wonderful tips! I’ve been trying to make my own beeswax-based clay and it wouldn’t stick together. Finally it dawned on me to use lanolin- but I didn’t know about mixing in oil and lanolin together at the same time. I’m curious, what purpose does the oil serve? I know that it makes the clay softer, but in the case of petroleum-based clay, it will cause the powder to separate from the wax if you add too much.

    Great tutorial, keep ‘em coming!

    -Don C.

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      Mind you, I haven’t done a ton of experimentation, because once I hit upon my recipe I stuck with it, but I’m under the impression that the oil helps make the beeswax more malleable. The lanolin does, too, but lanolin itself is still quite thick, and sticky. I’ve never had a problem with adding too much oil to modeling beeswax, but I have added too much oil to a flour play dough recipe that I was experimenting with once, and the oil DID separate out–gross!

      • Don Carlson

        Heh, it’s worse when you try to mix mineral oil with canning paraffin! Weird stuff. I like lanolin, but it’s very expensive where I am. Always looking for a big tub of it. I would use Bag Balm, but it’s a mix of lanolin and petroleum jelly and it kind of reeks of a menthol smell.

        So, olive oil will actually make beeswax less sticky? I always thought you had to add some kind of powder like talc or corn starch. Honestly, I wouldn’t experiment so much, but I have a bunch of different waxes and can never seem to buy modeling clay off the shelf that is just right for animation. I’m always adding something to it to improve its consistency. The biggest problem has always been that the stuff sticks to my tools. When it’s crumbly AND sticky, though, that stumps me every time. I think it’s cool you found a ratio that works for you. Hoping some of your luck will rub off on me!

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  • http://www.lavalya.com Joni LeBaron

    Thank You so much for sharing this, I have been thinking about this for a long time, my kids go to a waldorf school and I like modeling beeswax so much better than clay, but you are right it’s so expensive so I really look forward to trying this…

  • Brandee

    Would regular crayons work for coloring as well? I have everything here that we need but no soy rock crayons. Thanks!

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      Regular crayons will definitely work. I suggest soy crayons only because regular crayons (ie. Crayola) contain petroleum by-products. If you’re wanting to make modeling wax specifically to be a natural art supply, then you’ll want to use a completely natural pigment. If, however, you’re making modeling wax just to have another super-fun art supply, then conventional crayons will do.

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  • http://fieltrolanavellon.blogspot.com/ Gianna

    Thank you very much for your orientation. I did beeswax for modeling, and I m n ot sure it s ok.
    Compared to Stocmar my clay is not bright and it leaves the hands “dirty”. What can I add to make my modelling beeswax more “elastic”, It is sticky and does not strech.
    I used exactly your ingredients…but maybe my bees are different ;-)

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      If it’s sticky, it needs more oil.

  • Nate

    thanks so much it works great as nose and scar wax :D i just leave it a little sticker than usual thanks so much :D

  • Angela

    Love this!! Would food coloring gel work as a dye or what other options are there? I don’t have soy crayons, only regular Stockmar…and you know I’m not melting those:):)

  • Michell Armeanu

    I’m allergic to lanolin, is there some substitute. It looks really wonderful otherwise and I want to try it with my girls.

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  • Cathy

    Please, what on earth is a soy crayon rock and where would I get one?

    Thanks!

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      There are several different companies that make them, but here’s what they look like:

      http://crayonrocks.net/

  • Jess

    Hi think my modelling wax needs some help. Can’t decide at this point whether to continue or start again and was hoping you might know if it is salvageable. Wax is at this point crumbly and soft and will stick to table and hands but will form a ball etc. if I roll a tube shape it will hold but I can just break it into pieces and when cooled is still softish not hard . not sure what to do with it. First added more and more lanolin and oil and then added more wax and now not sure.

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      It sounds like you may need more wax, since the beeswax is what adds strength and hardness. You can play around and salvage this batch, but what you may need to do is first, write down exactly how much of everything you’ve added, then set it aside and make a new batch slowly, adding the ingredients a little at a time and testing often until you have the correct consistency for you, making note of exactly how much of everything that you’ve used at all times. Once you have a good first batch and you’ve verified a good recipe that works for you, then you’ll know what to add to correct your original batch.

  • Jess

    Thanks so much love your site I hate to waste great advice x

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  • sue gurney

    Thank you from Plettenberg bay in South Africa. It is great to have this recipe as everything is so expensive from Germany – just look at the exchange rate today!

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