I have always wanted to try a craft iron, so when I was asked to review the Purple CowsMelt Tool- which comes with a craft-iron attachment – I was totally on board!
Purple Cows Melt Tool and accessories
The Melt Tool is one of two heat tools by Purple Cows (Sizzle is the other). Â Melt is a lower to mid-temperature tool, while Sizzle is the higher temperature tool. Â There are a variety of accessory tips available for each of the tools, depending on what you would like to do with the tools, as well as encaustic wax and hot-fix crystals and nailheads for decorating. Â I have to be honest – I was by far the most excited by the wax potential…encaustic painting and just plain beeswax has been intriguing to me for a while now! Â So that is what I focused on the most!
To start off, the main Melt tool comes with 6 tips – including the craft-iron tip, a wire brush, a wax pen, a mini flow (for creating small dots, circles and shapes), a taper (for creating detail or cutting stencils), and a chisel (for lettering, shaping and fusing techniques). Â The Encaustic Wax Kit, which I also received, included a small block of clear wax, plus the craft iron tip, the wire brush, and the wax pen, and a sheet of sand paper (for cleaning the tips). Â I received additionally a package of primary-colored Encaustic Wax (red, blue and yellow) and a package of metallic-colored Encaustic Wax (gold, silver, and clear). Â Finally, I received the Gem Setting Kit, which included 6 assorted tips for using with hot-fix gems/crystals and nailheads, along with a nice assortment of colors, sizes and shapes of gems and nailheads.
Per the website, the “Melt dual temperature craft iron is a mid-temperature heat with 2 heat settings and 6 interchangeable tips for even more creative techniques.” Â Techniques listed include:
Encaustic wax painting, collage and mixed mediaÂ
Hot fix gem and nailhead embellishment setting
Quilt and applique fusing and pressing
Image transfer and more!
So let’s get started! Â First, I experimented with the craft iron tip, applying clear wax to an art journal page. Â I was amazed at how simple the iron makes it to both melt the wax – simply by holding the iron to the block of wax and holding it over your project to drip – and then to spread the wax around wherever you want it. Â I was even able to carve into the semi-cooled wax with a stylus, and add some oil-stick to the carved areas for layering. Â I also embedded a painted paper towel, as well as glitter, mica, and even a painted domino! Â You can also see the brush strokes from where I used the wire brush to add texture in the wax on the domino. Â The wire brush gets nice and hot, just as any of the other tips, and melts right through the wax, leaving nice brush strokes.
Clear encaustic wax on art journal page; glitter and mica embedded in wax using Melt craft iron
Brush strokes created in wax on domino using wire brush tip; domino, paper towel, tag, glitter, and mica embedded in wax
I also experimented with some of the other colors of encaustic wax. Â Not limiting myself to the colors provided, I used my heat-resistant Teflon craft mat as a “mixing palette,” and was able to play around with the colors. Â I love how easy it is to add wax to the surface – even adding just a touch of color around the edges just as if I were painting or inking. Â This truly could become addicting!! Â Embedding objects in the wax is really fun, and creating layer upon layer creates wonderful dimension. Â You can see the hints of the metallic gold wax I mixed with the other colors in this piece.
Encaustic painting - using teflon craft sheet as a mixing palette for the wax
Metallic gold wax is mixed in with the other wax colors
Completed encaustic painting done using Purple Cows Melt craft iron and Encaustic Kit
Finally, one last application using the craft iron tip – fusing fantasy fibers and fantasy film. Â You may recall this project from my Art Institute Glitter review a while back. Â What you may not have known is that I used the Purple Cows Melt craft iron to do the fusing! Â How wonderful it was not to have to drag out my big regular iron to do the job!! Â This tool is truly versatile!
Fantasy film and fantasy fibers ready to be ironed onto rubber stamp
Fantasy film and fantasy fibers fused using Purple Cows Melt craft iron
Now, when I listed the tips, both in the original kit and the Encaustic kit, you may have noticed the “wax pen.” Â I was very intrigued by this. Â I will admit that it took me a few tries to figure it out – including a failed attempt using crayon wax! Â BUT, once I received the wax blocks from Purple Cows, OH MAN – this is cool! Â Basically, the tip works just like a regular dip pen – like you would dip into India ink. Â Only this one gets hot, and then you “dip” it into a block of solid wax – which it then melts, fills the “barrel,” and then allows you to write with it! Â In WAX!! Â How unbelievable is that?! Â I really did not believe it until it worked for me! Â Ha! Â And then it worked, and I was in awe. Â It truly does work. Â Totally fun! Â It does seem like you’d go through quite a bit of wax if you were to write anything lengthy, but to just write a title or a key word for emphasis – very cool!
Writing in wax using wax pen tip with Purple Cows Melt tool
Next, I wanted to try out one of the other possible techniques – cutting stencils. Â I have a serious love of stencils. Â I think I’ve accumulated at least 20 of them in just the past year – if not more. Â But the cost adds up. Â I thought maybe if I could download a free pattern, then trace it onto plastic or acrylic, then maybe I could “melt/cut” it myself. Â Now, I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of material would be the best to use, and I think I probably used something a bit too thick. Â You can see that in my photos, the tool left really jagged edges, and when I was “cutting,” it was leaving almost “hot glue gun-like” strands all over the place.
Cutting a homemade stencil with Purple Cows Melt craft iron
Of course, I drew a rather detailed design…so it was taking me a long time to work through it, and I never did finish it. Â It wasn’t going as smoothly as I’d hoped, and it was fuming rather badly. Â I think I would like to try again with a thinner piece of material – perhaps a transparency (this was like a thick piece of translucent acrylic). Â At any rate, I did try spraying a color wash spray through what I did get cut, and was happy with the results (the purple, not the brown!).
Results of spraying ink through homemade stencil
Now, I *loved* the wax painting…but it truly is a toss up which was my favorite use of the tool between that and this next technique. Â This one was not listed on the Purple Cows website, but was instead one I learned in artist Stephanie Ackerman’sRandom Creative Scrapple Doodle online workshop (highly recommend her doodle classes!!). Â I can’t tell you the exact details of how I created this – but suffice it to say that the Melt tool and the mini-flow tip worked fabulously for creating these Styrofoam stamps!
Â And the second one, you may recognize – I traced inside of one of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s stencils she created for The Crafter’s Workshop, and created a homemade stamp! Â How completely awesome is that?! Â Check out the tag for an example of how you can paint in the stamp after it’s been stamped…awesome, right?
Homemade styrafoam stamp made using Purple Cows Melt tool
Homemade Styrofoam stamp made using The Crafter's Workshop stencil as a template and created with Purple Cows Melt tool
Tag made with homemade Styrofoam stamps made with Purple Cows Melt tool
Don’t you just love that?! Â I am seriously addicted now to making those Styrofoam stamps! Â The possibilities are endless, and I love the look. Â I have never been good at doodling before taking Stephanie’s class, but I love this style, and feel more confident now.
Finally, I gave the Gem Kit a quick try. Â This works basically like most other hot-fix setters out there. Â It has multiple tips to fit the gems, and a couple of Â sizes of flat heads (including one really nice large round one for large nail heads) for nail heads. Â The kit also includes a nice assortment of gems and nailheads to start you out. Â I affixed a few to simple white cardstock to show you. Â Hot-fix embellishments are great for cards, scrapbook pages, altered art, even clothing if you hand wash, and there are plenty on the market.
Gem Set - including tips, gems and nailheads
As you can see, I really put my Melt tool through the paces! Â I’ve been playing with it for several months now, and am still having a lot of fun with it. Â I have found that I actually use it often enough that I keep it out on my desk at all times…right next to my heat gun and my hot glue gun. Â (That’s saying a lot!) Â Its versatility is what has kept me reaching for it over and over, and its consistent performance hasn’t let me down. Â I definitely forsee this tool being on my work desk for years to come.
As for prices…the Melt tool itself, along with the basic 6 tips, is priced at $29.95. Â The Gem kit is $14.95, the basic Encaustic kit is $19.95, and each of the wax kits is $12.95. Â There are additional kits which can be purchased, including an Artistic Tip kit, a Stamping Tip kit, a Branding Tip kit, and a Soldering kit (as well as the Sizzle tool). Â All in all, I don’t feel the prices are all that bad, given the quality of the product and how many tips you receive/the versatility provided.
Have you Melt or Sizzle yet? Â What’s YOUR favorite technique to use these tools for? Â And if you haven’t tried them, which technique shown above caught your interest the most?
Samples provided for review
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Jen is married and the homeschooling mother of 3 children. She blogs about art journaling, mixed media, other crafts, family, homeschooling, special needs, disability, and other randomness at My Crafty Friend Jen.