Published on May 29th, 2011 | by Julie Finn26
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?