Over the years, the girls and I have had a love/hate relationship with modeling beeswax. In Waldorf circles, the wax is an integral part of a child’s crafting and education. It is natural, safe and has such a soothing and beautiful smell. The color choices are endless and when left with their imagination – children can create the most beautiful scenes and items… the experience doesn’t even come close to playdough or clay.
The difficulty (and frustration) that we often had with working with modeling beeswax was that it is very hard when it comes out of the packaging… and in order to manipulate the material, it must first be warmed until it becomes soft and workable. As a teacher with more than a few children in my class, this was a nice opportunity at naptime or during storytime for the children to hold the beeswax in their hands or under their arm to warm it. However, there were times when the children wanted to use the material to create scenes and needed more than one color and more than one piece ready to model and this is when it became a challenge.
The positive to the slow warming method is that it supports what we are trying to teach the children in this super fast paced world…. that our creations, our art and our time should be spent mindfully and slowly – with patience and love. Warming the beeswax is just as much a part of the process as modeling with it is… which is one of the many reasons I love the Waldorf model of education, as it keeps the whole child and the whole experience in mind.
The negative to this method is that it can become very challenging (especially when working with large groups or when wanting to use more than one color to create)… to warm the beeswax in your hands **all** of the time. So, we experimented with various techniques… using a warm blow dryer beforehand or tucking the wax under our arms as we worked on another activity. And sometimes it was good that way… but more often, the children lost interest and would choose something else to work with knowing the process would take a very long time.
It wasn’t until we took Stockmar’s instruction to place our wax in warm water before working with it that we REALLY began to enjoy the experience. And this is why we must always stay open and flexible to how we work with the children in our care. There is never one right or wrong way. Move with your intention and you will not fail.
This water method was such a huge success for us and my little school (and my own girls as they were growinng up) They would sit for hours creating full scenes and then playing them out… they’d make faces, and hair, and flowers, and trees… rivers and fish and I could go on and on…
This day they made flower children…. it is one of many simple tutorials that Stockmar offers HERE
Then they found every little ball that was leftover around our house and warmed it to make ‘accessories’…