Every young child (and some older) loves to color with crayons. Crayons have been around a long time and in my opinion are one of the best mediums invented especially for young hands. They are colorful, versatile, durable, and easy to use. Nowadays they come in many forms to satisfy every artist from children to the professional. Yes, even professionals use crayons occasionally when the style is needed. Crayons do have a special look and style, and even in the graphic design business you want a child-like look to your work.

In the beginning you could only get 8 colors in a box, but now crayons are available in 152 different colors. That should be every color any artist would need for their project. The first box of crayons sold only came in the color black. I wonder what the reasoning was for this unless it was used for lettering only. Perhaps. 

Wax crayons were used only for industrial purposes until Edwin Binney and Harold Smith introduced their brightly colored crayons for kids. Edwin’s wife, Alice, made up the name Crayola® by combining “craie” (French for chalk) with “oleaginous” (which means oily). In other words, oily chalk!

It hard to understand how different crayons are from their ancestors without looking at the history of the crayon. In 1864, Edwin’s dad, Joseph Binney started the Peekskill Chemical Works in upstate New York. The firm made charcoal and lamp black, a black pigment that is made from soot left over from when oil is burned. 

When the two cousins took over in 1885, they started making new things like red pigment for barn paint and carbon black that made rubber tires stronger. They made a number of industrial products, but from 1900 to 1902, they started making pencils and dustless chalk for blackboards in schools. 

Colored crayons were a natural next step. But the original pigments they used were not safe for kids, so they developed crayons that would be safe if swallowed. Gulp!! The first box they sold – the one with eight colors – cost just one nickel. 

Over the years as the company has grown, it has developed over 400 different colors. You can now get metallic crayons, crayons with glitter in them, crayons that smell like flavors, crayons that wash out of clothes, and even egg-shaped crayons. 

Today, many other companies make crayons for children as well. You can choose and pick the one that fits your needs best. Whatever you may need crayons for, they will be ever-present in the school classroom as one of the favorite mediums for students to use.

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