A CREATIVE CAUTIONARY TALE: I almost blew up a microwave

by Gina Clark

multi colored plastic bottle cap
Taylor Heery on Unsplash

A Creative Cautionary Tale

“What are you doing!” my sister hissed.  

There were sparks bouncing off the interior of the microwave as it shrieked and snapped. 

Before she rudely interrupted me, I had been happily melting crayon bits shoved into glass bottles in her microwave.  

I was in university and shared an apartment with my two sisters.  The microwave belonged to the currently angry one.

I was engrossed in an assignment for the Basic Design course I was taking.  The instruction had simply stated “colour”.   We had two weeks to submit our work to the class.

I had racked my brain trying to come up with something.  Why wasn’t there more detail in the instructions?!  

Finally, I remembered an old campfire activity we used to do as kids. 

Whenever he had a fire going my Dad would pull out some empty two-litre pop bottles.  We would throw crayon bits inside, put the bottle on a stick, turn it over the fire just high enough so the bottle wouldn’t disintegrate, and be mesmerized as the colours swirled and melted together.

I LOVED it!  

Of course, at the time it was the ’70’s/early ’80’s so there was zero concern by the adults about the toxic chemicals from the burning plastic wafting into their precious childrens’ nostrils. 

I wanted to try and recreate that colour experiment for my assignment.  

But instead of fire, I used a microwave.  (It was the ’90’s by then and people were recycling and such.  Burning plastic was a no-no.)

And, instead of pop bottles, I used glass orange juice bottles I scavenged from the recycling bins at school.  36 to be precise.  

I was smack in the middle of gleefully melting crayons from my brand new 64-count box (with built-in sharpener) in the microwave, swirling the melted colours in the bottles and letting the waxy liquid dry on the glass.

Then I decided it would be fun to try some metallic crayons.

My sister walked in right when I had a Silver crayon twisted together with some Cerulean Blue and Carnation Pink.  Sparks be damned! 


I quickly finished my melting, sans metallics, cleaned up, and slunk away with my project.  

I did not kill a kitchen appliance for my art.

So there’s your creative cautionary tale. The moral of this story is don’t use appliances that aren’t yours when melting metallic crayons.

Just kidding.

The moral is to have fun with colour!!  Play around with it.  Use what you have on hand. Try different combinations.  

Small mixed media painting
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Don’t be constrained by rules and what’s supposed to go together. (If you’re looking for inspiration, be sure to join my email list. I’ll send you a monthly colour palette email to spark your creativity and imagination.)

Grab some colour and go to town.

There’s an abundance of ways to play:

Paint.  Yarn.  Pencil crayons.  Flowers.  Fabric.  Rugs and throw pillows.  Even musicians and writers can be inspired by colour.

It’s easy to get stuck in using the same colour palette or veer to your go-to’s over and over without thinking. Why not try a colour you’re not naturally drawn to and see what happens?

The goal here is not perfection. It’s the opposite. Happy accidents are the best discoveries.

(My favourite colour is orange btw – in Crayola colours, I’m particular to Burnt Orange and Mango Tango.)

Happy Creating!

For more on creative play check out:

Struggling to Find Time for a Hobby? Here are 4 Essential Benefits of Micro-Creativity

How to Keep the Momentum Going When Your Creative Resolutions Start Going Down the Toilet

The Importance of Beginner’s Mind in Life and Art

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