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Product Review: Clementine Art’s All-Natural Soy Crayons

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My fabulous middle child (supposedly well-adjusted, but that’s for another day) came home from his first day in first grade the other week, with an adorable hand-print puzzle he’d made, just for us. And it stunk to high heaven. Holy moly, what do they put in those tempera paints?

Enter Clementine Art. This Boulder-based company has created a line of natural art products for the chemically concerned. I’m not joking: My sample product arrived within days of the above-mentioned incident. Kismet or what?

Unfortunately, it wasn’t paint, which Clementine Art also sells. It was, however, crayons, which every parent of a toddler absolutely must own. Clementine’s soy-based crayons come in a handsome package, and I admit I was sucked in by the naturific prettiness of the design. But could the crayons hold muster? Could they withstand the brutality of a 2-year-old who thinks he’s five? Or 6- and 8-year-old boys who draw actively, which is to say, detail every jump, flip, light saber swish, and flick of the whip imaginable in the scenario they are creating on paper?
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The crayons are short and stubby, for little hands, and seemed strong and sturdy, much like the toddler crayons the other company makes. I thought they’d hold up pretty well, until my toddler colored on the fridge. The tip broke off, but the larger concern was “Oh my God, are they washable?” Turns out, they appear to be—with some scrubbing and some Bon Ami. I’m not sure how a wall would fare, and in this situation I was not willing to test it. There are times when I’ll take one for the team. This is not one of them. The literature from the company indicates that the crayons are, indeed, washable. Phew.

The crayons themselves, though: Dreamy. Smooth and dreamy. They color sort of like pastel colors, with a lilting smoothness that will inspire the artist in just about anybody. I’m totally serious. With some of the colors, you can get solid, vibrant color. With others (no offense, purple), the effect is hazy and smoky, but no less pleasing. Let’s put it in perspective: This is my two-year-old scribbling here. Not Monet. Although Monet might like these crayons.

So, the pros: Smooth, easy coloring. The crayons are not wrapped in paper, so that’s an eco-plus. They have a textured grip, which I imagine must be good for developing those motor skills. They’re short and solid and easy to grasp. Again with the motor skills. Eco-friendliness: You know that rule that says you shouldn’t eat anything with more than ten ingredients? Well, you could eat these crayons. I am taking this directly from the box: Kosher soy wax, Mayan mineral pigments, stearic acid, palmitic acid, natural Brazilian rosen. Granted, the big crayon company’s crayons are basically just wax and pigment (even the glue holding the paper is just cornstarch and water), but what, exactly, is in the pigment? They never really say, do they?

The cons: Breakability. But isn’t that an issue with any crayon? Should I even be complaining here? And also: We were conducting our extremely rigorous tests outside, and the crayons fell on the concrete patio. Maybe any crayon would break. Hard to say. So chalk that up in the neutral column. Another con: Color selection. The crayons come in the basics: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. My 8-year-old was disappointed there was no black or gray. Darth Vader, people! However, Clementine’s other crayon product (which they call, interestingly, “rocks,”) do come in those colors.
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Clementine has a complete line of art supplies, including paint (no more stinky art projects), markers, modeling dough, crayons, and glue. They should be available at Whole Foods by the end of September. The soy crayons are $5.49; the whole product line ranges from $5.49 to $11.99. A great gift for the child of that organic Mom who you love, and would hate to offend with something as wierdly scary (and yet, so intriguing) as Color Wonder.

This review was written by Jennifer, one of our Mile High Mamas Product Reviewers.

Do you have a product you would like to be considered for review? Contact our assistant editor JoAnn Rasmussen, JoAnn@milehighmamas.com.

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