The do-it-yourself spirit of arts and crafts is alive and well and bigger than ever. A quick look at sites like Pinterest and YouTube will yield thousands of tips, tricks and techniques for creating all kinds of custom art pieces using a variety of easily available materials.
There’s one tool in particular that is ubiquitous in the arts and crafts world, sometimes called a paint crayon or solid paint marker. This is essentially a paint marking stick made of semi-solid paint.
Don’t let the name fool you – it’s not the same as a standard crayon, which is normally made of a wax-like substance. Paint crayons (or solid paint markers) apply permanent paint, which is either oil or acrylic based.
These easy-to-use marking tools work great for a variety of applications, and have tons of special tips and techniques associated with them. We’re here to share a few of the best ones to help you take your creations to the next level.
What Are the Benefits of Using Paint Crayons for Arts and Crafts?
Paint crayons are great for arts and crafts because they are an easy way to apply vivid, permanent paint to a variety of surfaces.
Generally speaking, you don’t need to use any other tools such as brushes to work with paint crayons (although you could do so, as we’ll see later on). They can be used just like any writing or marking tool.
Unlike liquid paint, the semi-solid nature of paint crayons makes them more durable. They won’t dry out since they will form a protective skin which can be scraped off.
Paint crayons are well suited to porous materials. Their semi-solid nature makes the paint less prone to running or seeping into surfaces, and works especially well with stencils.
Paint crayons are great at filling in the tiny nooks and crannies of non-smooth surfaces such as untreated stone, wood, and textiles. As a result, you can produce sharp, vibrant designs on these surfaces if you know a few tricks.
Popular Paint Crayon Arts and Crafts Techniques
Even though a paint crayon might seem like a simple and straightforward tool, you can use it to create stunning designs in your arts and crafts with only a few special techniques.
Preparing Paint Crayons for Use
As we’ve said, one of the benefits of using paint crayons is their tendency to form a protective skin on their exposed ends. This will ensure that the paint under this layer stays fresh. If this happens, all you need to do before you use the paint crayon is scrape it off, either using an Exacto knife or other sharp cutting tool.
There are two main ways to use paint crayons in arts and crafts. The first is to simply hold it like a pen or pencil and write with it using the tip. The other is to unravel the paper or cardboard and mark your surface using the side of the crayon. If you’re using the latter technique, you can also shave down the side of it to create a flat surface before use, or even break off a small piece.
Painting Directly on Canvas
If you’re using paint crayons for a more traditional art piece, you can draw directly on untreated canvas. Depending on your needs, you could layer colours, blend them together or use other marking tools and materials to create mixed-media works.
Painting on Fabrics
Paint crayons are amazing for applying permanent colour to fabrics. There’s a whole world of crafts that involves coloring textiles, from quilts to bags to apparel and more.
There are a few things you should know before you start using paint crayons on fabrics.
Preparing the fabric is key. Make sure to prewash commercial fabrics with no bleach or softener to get rid of sizing. You don’t want any of these residues to interfere with your paint’s adhesion.
Letting it cure. Unless you want to mix your colours, this means waiting at least 1-2 days before applying successive layers of paint to your fabric.
Heat setting. One of the great things about using paint crayons on fabric is that the colours resist washing. However, in order to ensure this, you need to let it cure for 3 days, then either dry iron or throw the fabric in the dryer before you wash it.
Remember, always dry iron and lay your fabric an old towel or other piece of fabric when doing so. Don’t iron directly on the paint!
One of the most common techniques associated with paint crayon crafts is rubbing. This essentially entails preparing some kind of rubbing plate, which consists of a raised design, and laying your material over it. Then the paint crayon is gently rubbed over the material to create an image of the plate’s design.
Preparing a work surface. Setting up your work area is crucial to the success of your piece. You’ll need to make sure nothing moves while you rub the crayon on your material. To do this, it’s best to start with a non-slip plastic or rubber mat on your table. You’ll then lay your plate on top of this mat, then finally lay your material on top of the plate.
Preparing a rubbing plate or stamper. You can use store-bought rubbing plates / rubber stampers, or create your own. Again, your goal is to make sure the material doesn’t slip against your plate. In order to prevent slipping, apply a temporary spray adhesive coating to your plate / stamper. This will make its surface slightly sticky.
Applying paint to your surface. Once everything is secured, apply paint to your surface (it could be fabric, paper, etc.) with short, slow strokes always in the same direction. Be gentle! You can either use the tip of the crayon or the side of it. Note that using the side of the crayon can yield cleaner results, especially if it’s flattened.
Paint crayons work great with stencils because the paint they apply is semi-solid. That means it won’t run under the stencil – it will only go where you apply it directly. You can achieve very sharp designs in this way.
Preparing a stencil. Use a pre-made stencil or make your own. Make sure they aren’t slippery. You don’t want it to move against your surface. Freezer paper works great for making your own stencils, as it’s waxed on one side. Draw or print out your design then cut it out using an Exacto knife (don’t use freezer paper with a laser printer – only ink jets).
Secure the stencil to the surface. If your using this technique on fabric, you can dry iron the stencil directly onto your surface. If you’re using freezer paper for your stencil, make sure the wax side is face-down against your fabric when your dry iron it.
Applying paint to the surface. For best results and more control, you’ll want to apply the paint from your crayon to a brush first, then work it into your surface with the brush. This is ideal since stencils can be fragile, especially if they are detailed. Be careful not to rip or fold the edges of the stencil as you apply the paint. Using a brush will also allow you to mix colours as needed.
Layering and Mixing Techniques
You can create very intricate designs using paint crayons on fabrics by layering these techniques. You can apply successive layers of rubbings or stencils to one piece of fabric, or cut our several painted pieces and join them together in a quilt.
You can use stencils to block out certain areas, and layer designs as you go. You can also mix colours using brushes for different effects. Finally, you can create shading by applying light colours first, then dark.
If your piece has distinct parts to it, such as a raised design on a piece of fabric, you can apply different colours directly to each section. Use a Q-tip for this purpose and you’ll get even better control.
As you can see, the sky is the limit when you’re using paint crayons creatively. There’s a myriad of tips and techniques out there for using paint crayons in arts and crafts, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works for you!