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If we recall our childhood, most of us must remember having crayons somewhere in the house. They may have been broken to pieces – alas! – but there were always crayons stashed away somewhere or filled into an old tin or pencil box.

Colouring with crayons is not only fun – and makes for sweet childhood memories – it is also highly beneficial for children. It hones children’s fine and gross motor strength, tool use and sensory processing.

But that’s not all. Children also learn pencil grasp, line awareness, hand-eye coordination and dexterity, while increasing their endurance, creativity and task completion.

The dangers of crayon sticks

Despite the many benefits of these beloved sticks of coloured wax, crayons have been mired in controversy for containing toxic ingredients and being harmful to children.

In 2015, United States’ Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund found asbestos fibers in four brands of children’s crayons and two kids’ crime lab kits.

EWG’s report stated that children can inhale the fibers while using the crayons and any child exposed to asbestos is 3.5 times more likely than an adult to develop a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure, known as mesothelioma.

Keeping this in mind, a Malaysian mother, Yvonne Kong, set out on a quest to create something that enabled her children to continue doing what they loved doing safely.

Broken crayons

In 2016, the 40-year-old mother of two was collecting and recycling all the broken crayons lying around their house.

“Have you seen children throwing away perfectly good crayons away because it had snapped in half? It happens a lot in my house and I thought it was such a waste.

“Not only that, I realised that the crayons available in the market today are not only in traditional, boring stick shapes, but it also contain unhealthy ingredients which can be harmful
to our children. That was when I decided to recycle them,” she said.

Kong said her experimentation with broken crayons was very simple – sorting them into moulds, melting them by baking them and repurposing them more interestingly.

“We used to purchase boxes after boxes of crayons from the bookstores for my kids to doodle at an early age. I started experimenting with them when I discovered they could be re-melted and made into novelty shapes. I was happy that not only I could minimise wastage as a result of broken crayons, I could also make them more fun and exciting!” she said.

Making safe crayons

Kong then started thinking about the safety aspects of the crayons and started experimenting at home.

“With the idea of creating them into novelty shapes, I started experimenting. After a few months, I finally found the perfect recipe to make safe crayons.

“I made the crayons out of beeswax and non-toxic colours. They do not contain paraffin waxes, lead, asbestos and others ingredients which can be toxic and potentially harmful to our health in the long run.

“I made the crayons into novelty shapes like animals shapes, which makes it more exciting for a child to colour. It wasn’t easy. But it’s been very rewarding to see that we could produce and provide to parents and their kids today. These are healthy, fun and safe crayons to doodle, colour and play to their wildest imaginations,” she said.

ChubbyFingersPlay

She started selling her own range of crayons by opening ChubbyFingersPlay, a handmade novelty crayon store in Malaysia.

“The response has been very encouraging, and I am very happy to see young parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties purchasing our safe crayons as a healthier option for their loved ones,” she said.

One of the biggest reason the crayons are a hit with her customers is because of the assurance that children will be safe if they accidentally ate the crayons or took a bite of it out of curiosity.

This is because these safe crayons contain coloured mica, which actually makes them edible.

Although this doesn’t mean that you can feed the crayons to children purposely! Practise caution at all times, Kong emphasised.

“Young babies should not be left unsupervised with the crayons. Do try to avoid the incidents of ‘eating’ the crayons as it could be a choking hazard to your children. But, should your child ingest a ChubbyFingersPlay it really does help to know that your child will be perfectly fine,” she added.

Inspiration

Kong’s number one inspiration to start up her crayon store is her children.

“I spend a great deal of time with them since they were young, observing them. And so I saw the gaps which needed to be filled. I also saw what I can do to help other young mothers who are always on the lookout for healthier options for their kids.”

She added that it is the important to encourage children to doodle away so they strengthen their motor skills, rather than taking the crayons away from them for making a mess.

Check them out here:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chubbyfingersplay/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chubbyfingersplay/

Photos: ChubbbyFingersPlay