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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

An Ode To Beeswax

Beeswax-off-of-pinterestBack in the days of small chil­dren and lit­tle mon­ey, I reg­u­lar­ly saved pen­nies for The Best Art Sup­plies that could be found. I’d read some­thing ter­ri­bly inspi­ra­tional about giv­ing your chil­dren real art sup­plies: gor­geous col­ors and tex­tures that would help them pro­duce fan­tas­tic works of art even if all they did was scrib­ble, pum­mel, and spill. I believe it to this day—real art sup­plies and fab­u­lous books make artists and read­ers.

I dis­cov­ered Stock­mar Mod­el­ling Beeswax ear­ly on. Not cheap, but well worth it. I’ve nev­er found anoth­er brand I like as well. (If the web­site seems daunt­ing, look in your favorite eco-wal­dor­fi­an-gra­nola-tree-hug­ging-par­ent­ing-toy shops and catalogs—they often car­ry it.) As a sto­ry­teller, I’ve become very fond of this beeswax.

I break the sheets in half—that’s all lit­tle hands can hold any­way. The secret is that they must hold it for sev­er­al min­utes to warm it. You can begin your sto­ry dur­ing this warm­ing peri­od. They sit still, hov­ered over their beeswax, chub­by fin­gers warm­ing this pre­cious bit of some­thing that smells good, is silky hard and then grad­u­al­ly soft­er, dyed just the right shade of (what­ev­er) col­or… kids under­stand intu­itive­ly how won­der­ful beeswax is. Once prop­er­ly warmed, they can shape the piece into what­ev­er they like, pinch­ing and rolling, flat­ten­ing and carv­ing, smooth­ing and rub­bing. The clos­est I ever get to pre­scrib­ing what they might do with their beeswax is to say, “I won­der if there’s some­thing in the sto­ry you might like to make with your beeswax…?”

I can tell or read a much longer sto­ry if my audi­ence has beeswax. At the end of the sto­ry, wax cre­ations are shared on a vol­un­tary basis. Every­one vol­un­teers. They make fan­tas­tic things always. They tell the group how their cre­ations fit in the sto­ry. They talk about what the sto­ry made them remem­ber and how it made them feel. They dis­cuss how much they like the tex­ture of beeswax, and what they loved in the sto­ry, and how they know anoth­er sto­ry that is “like it, but dif­fer­ent.” With beeswax in hand, the dis­cus­sions are rich.

Then, with hope in their eyes, they say, “Can we keep the beeswax?” They hold their col­lec­tive breath, wait­ing for my response. “Of course,” I say. “You can make some­thing else with it lat­er.” And they do. I know because they often show me some­thing they made with it weeks lat­er. They’ll tell me a sto­ry to go with their cre­ation. They’ll make a pre­cious gift of it, shar­ing it with some­one else who needs some­thing to wor­ry in their hands dur­ing a qui­et time.

Beeswax isn’t messy. It can be kept in a parental purse or pock­et for those times when some­one just needs a minute to sit and regain calm. It’s mag­i­cal: beeswax and sto­ries, kids and warm hands. Absolute­ly mag­i­cal.

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