We've used modelling beeswax many times before but we've always used Stockmar Modeling Beeswax. Stockmar Modeling Beeswax can be expensive and I wanted to try a natural alternative. I decided to try some homemade Modeling Beeswax.
Working with Modeling Beeswax is a good activity to develop muscles in the fingers and hands. It can be calming and the children can work on their sculpting skills. Modeling Beeswax is firm and can be warmed by the child's hands which may help to develop perseverance and patience. When cooled it retains its shape so the sculptures can be used on a nature table or in imaginative play. It can be reused over and over. Modeling Beeswax would also make a really special handmade gift for Christmas, we could package them in small kraft envelopes or in muslin drawstring bags.
"Working with pure beeswax or modeling beeswax is particularly widespread in Waldorf kindergartens and has proven itself over many years of experience with preschool children. The wonderful material conveys a deeply authentic experience in a very immediate way. Kneaded in the hands, it warms up slowly and the warmer it gets, the softer and more malleable the beeswax becomes. In addition, the scent it gives off is a pleasant perception for our noses." - Design with Beeswax in Preschool Age by Hanne Huber (translated from German to English).
Our recipe for homemade Modeling Beeswax includes:
- 1/2 cup melted beeswax - this was approximately 105 grams of solid beeswax.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil - you can also use coconut or jojoba oil
- 1/2 teaspoon lanolin
We mix all of the ingredients together, the oil and lanolin will blend with the melted beeswax. Then we pour the wax into a mould like a silicone muffin tray. Beeswax is available from bee keepers at markets, online or on sites like Etsy. We melt the beeswax in a double boiler, this is an adults only activity as we need to be extra careful with the hot wax.
Our homemade Modeling Beeswax is much softer than the Stockmar version which is a huge positive. However our homemade version leaves our hands feeling slightly sticky, the colours aren't as vibrant and the wax isn't as glossy.
There is some thought in Waldorf texts that it is beneficial for the child to work with one colour wax, preferably the natural golden beeswax colour. This way the child is focused on the form of the modelling and not distracted by the colour. I wanted to try to make some coloured wax so I dipped a small muslin bag that contained beetroot powder into the hot wax. The end result was a lovely red colour. I used blue spirulina for the blue colour.
I always make sure the modelling beeswax is warm for my four-year-old, when the wax gets cold it can be frustrating for the young child. Older children are able to warm it up themselves. We can warm up the Modeling Beeswax by:
- put wax on the window sill
- put wax into a small mug of warm water, dry before giving it to the child
- have the child hold and squeeze the wax while a story is being told/read, this is a good way of allowing the child to warm up their own wax
- have the child put the beeswax under their arm
- have an adult warm up the beeswax briefly in a low oven - be careful not to melt it and check the temperature thoroughly before giving it to the child.
- have an adult warm up the beeswax in their hands first before giving it to the child.
I love to have all three of my children sitting around the table using the modelling wax together while chatting or telling stories. We can also use the wax during story time. The children can hold the wax in their hands while the story is being read, at the end of the story they can start sculpting, perhaps something related to the story. When living in the UK we often used Modeling Beeswax in the winter, it feels like a cozy warming activity.
Above and below are examples when we've used the coloured Stockmar Modeling Beeswax.
There are also some lovely Modeling Beeswax options on Etsy.
- Modeling Clay Beeswax by PepperPine (US)
- Modeling Beewax Sheets by Mamamboo (Turkey)
- Modeling Beeswax by LovelyLittleOwlToys (US)
- Beeswax Modeling Clay by SlyMeLove (US)
The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More is a fantastic resource of all things beeswax, it has Beeswax Modeling Clay and Beeswax Oil-Based Clay (Plasticine) recipes.
If you are looking for more Beeswax crafts we also enjoy Beeswax Alchemy: How to Make Your Own Soap, Candles, Balms, Creams, and Salves from the Hive, although it doesn't have a modelling recipe.
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