by Inigo del Castillo in New Art on Thursday 27 February 2014

Wax Nostalgic is a Tumblr featuring carved crayon sculptures inspired by pop culture characters. Some of the characters forever immortalized in crayon are Han Solo, Dart Vader, Finn & Jake, and Master Chief. The mastermind behind these crayon sculptures is Hoang Tran, who we got to talk to recently. Check out the interview to know how it all started and how he does it. [read our original post about this crayon art here]

Tell us the story behind how these crayon sculptures started.
It all started about three or four years ago. Online, I saw the crayon carvings of another artist named Diem Chau. So the idea of carving crayons wasn’t originally mine. It was something that I wanted to try but at the time, I was just too busy.

Then about half a year ago, a friend of mine was putting on a small art show and asked if I wanted to participate. I’m not the painter type but I remembered the crayon carvings and thought I could fit that with the theme of the art show. I ended up carving a handful of crayons and they were well received at the show.

Afterwards, I thought about how there were not many people doing this and maybe I could help fill this void. I decided to spend a week carving some new crayons to see what would happen. I posted images online and eventually some became popular and things kind of took off from there.

Your subjects usually involve pop culture characters. How do you go about choosing them and what would say is your favourite one?
I try to choose things to carve that I like personally. However since I try to sell these carvings, I also make things that I think other people will like. I’m fairly well versed in pop culture so even though I don’t watch for example, Doctor Who, I’m familiar enough with it that I make carvings based on it.

The main criteria though is if I can actually carve it out of a crayon and will the end product turn out well. I’ve thought of things that would be just too difficult or time consuming to try. Luckily, there’s an endless amount of subjects to carve so there’s always another idea waiting for me.

My favorite one thus far is the carving I made based on the television show Breaking Bad. It’s one of my favorite shows and I think the carving turned out really well.

How long does it take for you to finish one crayon sculpture?
Each one can take a few hours. It depends on the complexity of the subject, how delicate it is, if extra colours are involved, and so on. Carving something for the first time can take a little longer as I try to figure out the best way to approach it. I’ve made certain characters many times so those because easier to do.

As I spend more and more time on this, my skills are improving so carving becomes quicker. However sometimes that speed gets offset as I strive for more complex and ambitious designs.

We’re curious about the multi-coloured sculptures. How do you integrate the other colours with the main crayon colour?
Some people think that the crayons are painted but all the extra colors are from the wax of other crayons. Painting would probably be a lot easier but I’m a purist and want the entire carving to be made of crayon wax. I don’t want to reveal the exact technique but I basically melt wax from one crayon and carefully apply it drop by drop to the main crayon I’m working on.

In a way, it is like painting but I can also carve it when it hardens. The tricky part is that the melted wax will end up melting some of the main crayon as well and cause undesired streaks of one color going into the other when I want them to be distinct and separate. Just like with carving itself, over time I’m getting better at handling the melted wax but it is definitely still a challenge at times.

What characters are you planning to carve next?
Right now I’m fairly busy completing orders large and small for other people so I haven’t had the time to carve the things that I want. I love comics, though, so whenever I have the time, I want to carve a lot of super heroes.