This year, I decided I wanted to give presents that are:
- Cost effective (we have a $200 gifting budget, which has to cover our immediate family plus our parents, our four siblings, and our siblings' kids)
- Environmentally friendly
- But also not hard to make
A few months ago, I saw this video about cloth beeswax wraps, which can be used in place of plastic wrap to cover and store food. Another opportunity to ditch plastic and bolster my treehugger credibility? I was intrigued. So I found a few DIY tutorials and tried making my own.
So here it is, folks: the only crafting tutorial you're ever going to find on this blog:
Budget-Friendly Cloth Beeswax Wraps
What you'll need:
- Cotton fabric: A legit environmentalist would cut up old clothes or blankets or something. That's probably what you should do. Personally, I went to the local craft store and bought a bunch of inexpensive cotton fabric scraps in a variety of colors. These were displayed at the front of the store near the registers. They were pre-cut, meaning that I didn't have to ask anyone to help me with giant bolts of cloth. Introvert win! Cost of fabric: $8
- Beeswax: I was sure I'd have to order this online, but it turns out that you can find beeswax at Michael's craft store alongside all of their candle-making supplies. I bought a big block of it, which would have been somewhat expensive had I not had a 50% off coupon. (Pro tip, even from this clueless crafter: Michael's offers so many discounts that you should never, ever purchase anything for full price.) Cost of beeswax: $10
- Pinking shears: As I understand it, these mitigate fraying at the edge of the fabric. They also make a cool zig-zag cut. You can find these at most big stores. Cost of pinking shears: $10 or so
- Cheese grater: You likely already have one of these, but unless you enjoy wax bits in your cheese, I recommend getting a second grater just for this craft. Cost of grater: less than $5
- Parchment paper: Man, this stuff is nifty. Nothing sticks to it. It's in the same aisle as aluminum foil and - shudder - plastic wrap. Cost of parchment paper: less than $5
- An oven or toaster oven. Disclaimer: please do not purchase an oven for the purpose of this craft. That is not in the spirit of making an inexpensive gift.
- A small paintbrush. Any paintbrush will do. I stole the one that came with my kid's watercolor set. It worked great. He probably won't notice, but if he does, I'm going to play the indignance card and remind him who buys his bread and toothpaste. I'm not giving a price for this because every child I know has more paintbrushes than they could ever use, so go find one of those kids and "borrow" their art supplies. It'll be fine.
How to make your cloth beeswax wraps:
Step 1: Wash the fabric. Confession time: I skipped this step because we don't have a washer and drier in our apartment, and I was feeling impatient. You can see why crafting doesn't work out for me that often. Honestly, it really didn't seem to matter, but it's probably a good idea anyway, just so the colors in the fabric don't bleed.
Step 2: Cut the fabric to desired size. I cut pieces to the following dimensions: 6"x6", 8"x8", and 9"x10".
Step 3: Grate the wax. I grated about half a cup at a time. Pro tip: Keep Bandaids on hand for when you accidentally grate your finger.
Step 4: Preheat your oven to 225 F. 250 F would probably be okay, too. They key is to not inadvertently burn your house down, as that is also not in the spirit of creating an inexpensive craft. If you're using a toaster oven, don't even bother with heating it up. More about this in a second.
Step 5: Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, and place a piece of your cloth on the parchment paper.
Step 6: Sprinkle the cloth with wax. I wish I could tell you how much to use, but I sort of just eyeballed this. If you use too little, you can always add more; if you use too much, you can always sop it up with another piece of cloth.
Step 7: If you're using a regular oven, stick the baking sheet + cloth + wax into the oven for 5 minutes. If you're using a toaster oven, place the sheet on top of the toaster oven and set it to toast for 3-4 minutes.
Step 8: Once the wax is melty, use the paintbrush to saturate the entire cloth. If you find that parts of the cloth are unsaturated, add more wax and repeat the melting process. By the time you're done, the cloth should be fully imbued with the wax, but it shouldn't be dripping, and chunks of wax shouldn't be falling off the cloth once it cools. If you find that you've been a bit wax happy, you can use another piece of cloth to sop it up. Or, you can be like me: throw your hands up in frustration and start over.
Step 9: Let the cloth cool. Logically, other DIYers recommend using clothing pins to hang them up, but I like to flip them around like pizza dough. It's fun and they cool fast.
Note: when covering dishes or bowls, the wrap isn't going to automatically stick to the sides the way plastic wrap does. You'll need to get it a bit warm and pliable first. I recommend sticking it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
To clean your wrap, just use dishwashing detergent and cold water. Get it nice and sudsy, and then rinse.
If you find that your wraps are looking a little worse for the wear, stick them back in a warm oven so that the wax can re-melt and redistribute.
If you try this, let me know how it goes! Happy budget-friendly treehugger holidays!