Making Beeswax Wraps
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions for me and everyone around me. I have not managed to post for a while as a parent in our community and close friend of mine unexpectedly passed away. The funeral was two Fridays ago and as we returned home from the wake we learned of the Christchurch tragedy that has shaken our nation.
This blog is not the place for political commentary, but I cannot just keep going without acknowledging the terrible event. Among the horrors, pain and sadness, I have been heartened by the overwhelming feeling of love and support that people have shown, both to the family of my friend and to those affected by the Christchurch tragedy. It has reminded me that humans, generally, are good. They are kind, honest and generous. They are open to seeing their flaws and willing to address them. They want to live in peace and harmony. There is hope for humankind.
So as life continues, we as educators, are reminded of the weight of our responsibility; as Maria Montessori put it: “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”
At our school we have tried to keep things as normal as possible. The 9-12 camp is next week and the preparations are in the final stages. It is a huge undertaking as, for one week, we try to meet all of our own fundamental humans needs. You can read how we did this on last year’s camp here and here. This year, we are trying to go a little further; as well as building our shelters and making all of our own food from scratch - grinding wheat for flour, extracting salt from seawater, growing fruit and vegetables etc. – we are trying to make natural dyes for the furnishings for the central Peace Tent.
This huge circular tent will sit in the middle of the camp and act as a space for children to retreat to when they need some space. Sometimes our ‘Camp Grandma’ will be in there, ready to listen, hug, knit and read with children, sometimes there will just be quiet music playing. I’ll post more about this another time.
The other addition to this year’s camp is the home-made soap that I wrote about here. The plan was to sew small waterproof soap-pouches for each child to keep in their backpacks. This was a wonderful idea but as there are only four children in the group responsible for supplying the soap, and eighty-five people attending the camp, making pouches turned out to be far too great a challenge.
So, with only weeks to go and sixty pouches still to be sewn, we formulated a quick plan B. The children decided to make beeswax wraps for the remaining soap. This turned out to be way faster and easier than plan A. There are lots of tutorials online for making beeswax wraps. Each has a slightly different recipe or method that they swear by.
Here’s how we did it:
First we tie-dyed some woven cotton fabric with turmeric. This is a fugitive dye, which means is will fade over time but it is food safe and we are hoping the wax will help seal the colour a bit.
We cut the fabric into rectangles with pinking shears to prevent fraying.
Meanwhile some other children grated the huge block of beeswax that was randomly donated last year.
We placed two squares at a time on an old baking sheet and sprinkled with beeswax and little bits of coconut oil (this helps keep the wrap pliable and apparently has an anti-bacterial affect).
Then we put the baking sheet in a very low oven for just long enough for the wax to melt. A couple of times it was left in too long, or the oven was too high – this leads to a smoky, stinky room very fast!
We used a sacrificial paintbrush to spread the wax-oil mixture about and make sure every bit was covered.
Then, the best bit, we picked up the wrap, allowed it to drip a little, held it for a few moments whilst it cooled and it was done! This bit amazed me, it felt like the process ended really suddenly and we had this awesome finished product right away.
The children had a bit of a production line going – cutting, grating, heating etc. right the way to wrapping it around a piece of soap ready for use. They made twenty-nine on their first session and finished the rest today. They are the perfect water-proof container for our precious soap!
Beeswax wraps are very trendy at the moment and fairly expensive to buy. If you are looking for a school fundraiser idea, or just a way to help your students be more eco-friendly, I highly recommend you give this a go.