Starry Night Art Project for Kids – Melting Crayon Art

Starry Night Art Project for Kids – recreate Van Gogh’s masterpiece by melting grated crayons on aluminum foil!  

I’m really excited to share this project  with you! It’s one of the coolest art techniques for kids. We’re melting crayons to create a beautiful piece of art.  Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to be exact!

Our easy, 3-step process involves:

  • painting on aluminum foil
  • grating crayons
  • melting the crayons in a warm oven

Like so many of the things we make here, I had no idea how this would turn out until the very end of the process.  I’d been thinking about making some melted crayon art for a few days, but I wasn’t exactly sure what we’d make, or even how we we’d do it.

Starry Night created with grated and melted crayons

You’ve likely seen lots of melted crayon art on pinterest.  Dilly Dali Art made some great initial artwork for her kids’  rooms, and Juggling with Kids made the traditional crayon rainbow using a hairdryer. 

Looking through a cupboard yesterday, I came across our family’s Starry Night jigsaw puzzle, and my plan came together!

This project provided me with a opportunity to introduce a little culture into our day.  I showed the hooligans the painting on the front of the puzzle box, and we talked about Van Gogh, and examined the scene, the colours and the style of painting, and we listened to Don McLean’s version of the song “Starry Night” a couple of times.  Then we got busy…

To make our Starry Night Melted Crayon Art, you’ll need:

  • cereal box
  • aluminum foil
  • crayons, wrappers off (shades of black, blue, yellow, white, purple)
  • paint in various shades of blue, black yellow purple and white
  • cheese grater
  • oven

I gave each child a piece of cardboard (cereal box) covered with aluminum foil, and I filled a paint pallet with 4 shades of blue paint, and a shot each of yellow, black, purple and white.

blue paint on foil canvas

Some covered their canvases completely with paint, while some made only a few strokes.  There’s no right or wrong way to do this.  Allow your little one to decide when he or she is satisfied with their work.

We left our paintings to dry overnight, and we added the (gorgeous!) finishing touch today.  You’ll love how easy this is!

cheese grater and crayons

First you’re going to grate your crayons.

Older children will be able to grate their crayons themselves, but the hooligans gave it a try, and it wasn’t an easy task, so to avoid having to deal with shredded knuckles and fingertips, we agreed that I would do the grating.  I made piles of blue, purple, yellow, white and black crayon shavings for each of them.

grated crayon shavings for Starry Night art project

Next, sprinkle your crayon shavings all over your painting, leaving some space around the edges so they don’t run off the cardboard as they melt.  At this point, ours looked something like this:

art with melted crayons - shavings sprinkled over painting

To finish, pop your painting in the oven for 5 minutes at 200 degrees.  You can place it on a baking sheet or directly on the oven rack.

When you take your painting out of the oven, be sure to keep it level because your wax will be very hot and runny for a minute or two.

Watching the wax cool was really neat.  Initially, the colours are still kind of pooling and running together, but within seconds, they start to firm up and harden.

art with crayon wax melted in the oven

When ours were completely cool they looked like this!

art with broken crayons, starry night - happy hooligans

Aren’t they gorgeous?

melted crayon art fresh from the oven

Take care not to bend your painting or your wax will crack.  If this happens, don’t worry, you can just pop it back into the oven and melt it again.

I finished ours off by punching a couple of holes in the top of each painting, and adding a dark blue piece of yarn so the hooligans can hang their masterpieces at home.

art with grated crayons starry night

These are definitely something you and your child will want to display proudly!

Easy way to remove wax from a cheese grater:

I knew you’d ask!

A quick and easy way to remove the crayon wax from your cheese grater (or from any metal surface for that matter), is to pour a kettle of boiling water over your grater.  Presto!  Instantly clean grater!

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  1. Yvonne says

    Wonderful, great job, I knew it was crayons lol…could you use a heat gun used in cardmaking. I have also seen crayons placed in a row and stuck to a canvas at the top and then blow dried with a hot setting and it all runs down the canvas. You could use cereal boxes as well I would imagine. :)

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks, Yvonne! I’ve seen the ones with the crayons across the top. Those are so neat! I’d love to try that one day. I’m not sure about the heat gun – I’ve never used one. It’s worth a try if you have one though!

  2. Maria says

    You and your hooligans are really fantastic, you are creating great artists!!We`ll try it this weekend, I think its going to rain a lot in Madrid.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    hi- love the idea!! but i was wondering- I read some of the comments but not all so I apologize if this is repeated. Do you think using real artists canvas would be possible? I would love to have something a little bit more substantial and permanent.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Diana says

      I saw that someone suggested using a real canvas. I wonder if you could and apply heat from underneath with a heat gun or hair dryer. I may attempt as long as the air doesn’t blow easily through the canvas. I’m an art teach and could see my preschool kids loving this but I would have to recreate in a classroom.

    • happyhooligans says

      I don’t think I’d want to use a hair dryer for this one. I’m thinking crayon shavings would be EVERYwhere! LOL

    • happyhooligans says

      I wouldn’t try a blow dryer, Wendy. The crayon shavings would be everywhere as soon as you pointed the dryer at them.

  4. Amy says

    Just did this. I would recommend one of those cheap plastic pencil sharpeners instead of a grater. We tried the grater and it was very messy. LOL. But the sharpener worked great!!! :)

  5. says

    This is just magnificent. We love melted crayon art, and I really love the way you introduced Van Gogh to them. I am going to have to do this with my older boys. My five year old is especially obsessed with melted crayon art, and I think he will absolutely be thrilled.

    I will be featuring this tomorrow on The Sunday Showcase.

  6. happyhooligans says

    So glad you all loved this one. I think this will go down as one of my all time favourites! We’ve done another one since the Starry Night project! Can’t wait for you to see it! It will be live on the CBC kids’ website on Feb.13th!

  7. India says

    I did this with my 23m old yesterday! We did a little bit of modification though and I wanted to share it with you! I was out of paints so we did a construction paper collage on the cardboard which turned out great. The other thing I did differently was breaking up the crayons by putting them in a bag and hitting them with a rolling pin. It was a lot less work and still made them into tiny pieces. You’re so inspiring and we use ideas from your blog often! Thank you so much and keep it up!

    • happyhooligans says

      Great ideas! I love it when we’re inspired by something we’ve seen, but we tweak it so it works with what we have on hand. Smart thinking to use the rolling pin for breaking up your crayons!

  8. Julie Jeong says

    I love this idea — our school celebrates one artist a month. Without an oven, we’ll have to lay them outside on a sunny day but I can’t wait to try it this summer!

  9. says

    Did this today! Kids and I loved it. They are now hanging on our wall. I picked up some cheap black frames and they were so proud to see them hanging up so nicely. Thanks for the idea and the great tutorial… (A big canvas print of Starry Night hangs in my son’s room and is the inspiration for his room so this was close to our hearts and fun to explore ourselves.)

  10. Taryn says

    We tried this with a canvas and then used a hair dryer to blow from underneath to melt the crayons. The canvas was thin enough to be heated from behind and it didn’t blow the crayon shavings away. You have such fabulous ideas on this site, it is a source of inspiration for all the craft that goes on in our house.

  11. Kim says

    instead of using a grater we put the crayons in a sandwich bag and pounded the crayons with a hammer. I did this with my 10 yr old, 8 yr old and a 13 yr old neighbor.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’ve only ever used acrylics, Karoline, but I would think it would work with other paints. The only question might be whether the paint would crack and flake with the heat of the oven, but you don’t know until you try, right? Go for it.

  12. Lisko says

    We’ve done some grate’n’melt art. We love it every time. The only problem is cleaning the grater afterwards. Any thoughts? :)

  13. Louise says

    Oh wow! So wish I’d found your blog a few years ago when au-pairing.. Made the first step today with my 4 year old, we used greens for background, and will do bright colours for the wax to hopefully create a wild flower field look to go in a frame on my tv stand 😀

  14. says

    I just tried this and couldn’t get it to swirl. Looking at your photos it doesn’t look like you put that many crayon shavings on. Wondering if the problem is that I only had Rose Art crayons on hand.

  15. Molly says

    Would this work if I had the kids color the foil with sharpies? All we have is tempera paint and I don’t want it to come right off. Also, not trying to have anything explode or start a fire. :) please let me know ASAP as I am trying this on Monday.

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Molly. I’m guessing you could use the sharpies. Or you could skip that step altogether, and just go with the grated crayons. I wouldn’t worry about anything catching fire or exploding though. The oven is at such a low heat and your art is only in there for a short time. Let me know if it works with the sharpies.

      • Molly says

        Thanks so much and will do! Also I didn’t expect yout to answer so quickly so thanks! Also I have been using your website for all sorts of crafts. I babysit a lot and all of your crafts are great and inexpensive. Thanks so much!!!!!!! :)

      • Molly says

        So I tried it out with the sharpies and it worked great… The kids liked drawing things behind it and didn’t use a lot of crayon so you could still see the background.

  16. Micheal says

    We are doing a red, white, and blue theme for the Fourth. Probably with glitter since my youngest hooligan is 7. These are going to be so great”

  17. says

    would suggest one uses a pencil sharpener to “grate” the crayons–safer forall, especially ssmall fingers of children. if this is a repeat of someone else’s suggestion, you have my apologies.

  18. Ellen Quinones says

    Any suggestions on whether we can varnish or seal our art? Also we used the Hershey bliss chocolate foil wrappers lol (gotta reuse or recycle right?).

  19. Sara Hendrickson says

    I would love suggestions too on sealing. Our paint is separating from the tin foil, any tips on how to keep it on? I may have to wrap them in Saran Wrap . . . :)

    • happyhooligans says

      What kind of paint did you use, Sara? Tempera is known to flake and peel. Acrylics do not. If you used temperas though, they’ll run and smear if you brush on a sealant, as they’re waterproof. You could try a spray varnish, but I’m not sure if the wax would resist it. Wish I could be of more help… Sorry!

  20. Paula Kelly says

    Me and my girls 8 and 3 did glass ornaments with crayons. I tried the grater first then found that a pencil sharpener was easier for the girls.

  21. Evie Jo says

    When teaching elementary art grades 1-6, I would use an old cheese grater for shredding old crayons. However, that can take a toll on knuckles and fingers. Myyy solution: crayon/pencil sharpeners! The cheap plastic ones with a storage cup attached. Ooooh, and my 6th grade art helpers. They loooved shredding crayons! You could even control the colors and keep colors separated in little margarine tubs.

  22. Christine says

    I bought an old plate warmer at a tag sale for a dollar. Plug it in, it heats up nicely, and the boys can color directly on paper for melty, swirly colors, or just place it on the warmer to melt the shavings. Thrifty and fun!

  23. says

    Oh wow, wow, we have to try this version! This is one we have not tried, while recreating our own Starry Nights with playdough, store bought, homemade with buttons and glow in the dark playdough, paint, but melted crayons: We are SOO doing this one! My daughter looks when I say that and says oh no, starry night again? LOL YUP, again! So excited. As we get ours done, I will come back and share a link! Thanks again.

  24. sanjana says

    Can I just color on a paper and put the crayon shaving and cover it and iron it using iron box, will it work

  25. ABJenkins says

    This looks fun …… Has anyone ever tried this in the microwave? ……. I would love to try this during after school

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m not sure what crayon wax would do in the microwave, but if you’re going to try it, definitely do not wrap your cardboard in tinfoil first! 😉

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