As I was prepping dinner one morning earlier this week (roast with carrots and potatoes, yum) and thinking, “Thank goodness for this slow cooker,” I started wondering: Can you craft in a slow cooker? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” You may know your slow cooker as a Crock Pot, a brand that has become synonymous with slow cookers, like Kleenex or Q-tips, but whatever you call, it’s amazing. And in addition to being extremely useful for making dinner-making easier (especially in winter), a slow cooker can also be quite useful for crafts where low, even heat is desired. Think: candle-making, soap-making, fabric-dyeing and more. Using a slow cooker for these crafts can even minimize energy-usage (as a slow cooker typically uses less energy than your stove top).
If you go the slow cooker crafting route, my advice is to keep two slow cookers on hand — one for food and one for crafts. A lot of the crafts below use food-safe ingredients, but some don’t, so it’s best to be safe. You could pick up a smaller one for crafts, or shop your local thrift store to reclaim a used Crock Pot as a craft pot. That’s what I did to test some of the ideas below.
Soap is a natural thing (pun not originally intended) to make in the slow cooker. Mick posted his recipe for handmade soap a few months ago, and while he used the stove top in his instructions, you could easily alter the advice to use a slow cooker instead. In step 5, where he heats the ingredients up over the stove, simply heat the ingredients in your craft slow cooker.
We’ve had a few candle-making posts here, including Emily’s scented candles and Mick’s citronella candles. To make candles using your slow cooker, you’ll still need to set up a double boiler system as Emily and Mick did, but you can use the slow cooker container as the base.
Check out my post on how to make your own beeswax lip balm. I used a slow cooker for this process, and it worked great. During the process, I was reminded of the time I made beeswax candles and completely ruined a nice copper-bottom pot in the process, so I am now a believer in the designated craft slow cooker theory.
This is a fun one to try with the kids. Who doesn’t love play dough, and better yet, homemade play dough? Mick’s recipe for DIY play dough could easily be altered to use a slow cooker instead of a pot on the stove, if you like. (I have also heard that crayons can be made using a slow cooker, but a few bad reviews were enough to make me leave that one out of this list.)
Use your slow cooker instead of a pot on the stove as a dye bath for fabrics and paper — or even Easter eggs! I heated up turmeric as a natural dye in a non-reactive pot in this fabric-dyeing post, but I could just as easily have used a slow cooker, and in fact, I think I’ll do just that next time around.
Paper dipped in wax, especially beeswax, can be a fun material to play around with in arts and crafts projects. I took pages from a thrifted book (the pages contain lists of plant names, yay!) and dipped them in a little beeswax melted in the bottom of my slow cooker. What will I do with these? The current plan is to cut out shapes for Christmas ornaments. But I could also use the pages to make a rolled paper wreath like Michele did last holiday season. The wax coating would make the paper more moisture resistant and help it keep longer.
Scented Pine Cones
If you’re not over the smell of scented pine cones after walking into your local craft store multiple times this season like I am, then this one’s for you. Making scented pine cones is actually pretty easy to do at home, as Mick shows in his scented pine cones post. As with other projects in this list, simply swap the stove top and pot for your craft slow cooker.
You can also make easy potpourri by throwing a few whole spices, like cinnamon sticks, anise stars and cloves, into water in a slow cooker and keeping it on low. The spicy Christmasy scent will fill your home like the aroma of slow-cooking roast does when you leave it cooking all day. If you’re not into the holiday scents, you could also add a few drops of aromatherapy oil, like lavender or orange oil, to the pot.
If you like these slow cooker crafts, I’m pretty sure you’ll also love these ideas for gourmet gifts, including several for DIY gift baskets. Cooking and crafting just belong together, right? You can find these and more Christmas craft ideas at DIYNetwork.com.