An abstract portrait made from melted crayon in swirled shades of red, purple, blue, and white against a white background. The face is oval-shaped with a smile, a pointy nose, and two button eyes with long eyelashes.

Make a one-of-a-kind casted self-portrait  inspired by Janine Antoni using dough as a mold for melted crayons. Then, use your crayon self-portrait to draw! 

Time: 45 minutes +
Grade Level: 3-5, adaptable for younger and older students 
Art Speak: process, sculpture, self-portrait
DCPS Arts Curricula: perceiving


white and brown bust sculptures on pedestals

Lick and Lather, Janine Antoni, one licked chocolate self-portrait bust and one washed soap self-portrait bust on pedestals, 1993–1994.

Choose one sculpture to look at first, carefully looking at the colors and textures. What does the color remind you of? What do you think the sculpture would feel like? What would it smell or taste like? Now look at the second sculpture. In what ways are the sculptures similar? How are they different?  

You might have noticed that these two sculptures look a lot alike–that’s because they are the same person! One difference is the color of the sculptures: one is brown and one is white.These artworks are self-portraits, meaning the artist made an artwork of themself! Where do you see bumpy and smooth spots on the portraits? 

These sculptures are made from different materials. The artist, Janine Antoni, uses materials that you might find inside your home or at a grocery store. What two materials do you think the artist made these sculptures from? What makes you say that?

The artist, Janine Antoni, made Lick and Lather for the 1993 Venice Biennale, an art exhibition in Venice, Italy. She was inspired by the ancient Roman sculptures she saw there. Ancient Romans made extremely realistic sculptures of humans from stone. Antoni wanted to create realistic sculptures not from stone, but from common materials, like soap and chocolate! Antoni used a process called casting. First she made a mold directly from her body by holding her breath and submerging her head, hair, and shoulders into alginate—a material dentists use to make molds of teeth—for one minute. Next she melted 35 pounds of chocolate (!) and poured it into the mold. After she took her chocolate sculpture out of its mold, she “re-sculpted” the self-portrait by licking it! How do you think it would feel to lick your own face? Why? 

Antoni also cast herself in soap using the same process. Instead of licking her soap self-portrait Antoni spent a few hours with it in the bathtub. She slowly washed the sculpture with her hands, changing its appearance. Licking and washing are actions that are loving, but by licking and washing her likeness, Antoni started to slowly erase herself. In an interview Antoni explained how Lick and Lather is “about conflict, the love/hate relationship we have with our physical appearance.” How do you think it would feel to wash your own face? Why? 


Graphic illustration of the artist against a dusty pink background. The artist stands facing the viewer, her hands behind her back. She wears a black shirt with gray sleeves. Around her neck is a necklace with white beads.

Janine Antoni, (b. 1964) is a Bahamian artist who uses her body as a tool to create sculpture and performance. She often uses unique materials like chocolate, soap, and make-up. Antoni is not afraid to get messy when making art! To paint, she uses her long brown hair to paint sweeping swirls on gallery floors, and her eyelashes to draw “butterfly kisses” (where one person flutters their eyelashes against another’s skin) on paper. To sculpt, she uses her mouth to gnaw, bite, and lick sculptures of lard (animal fat) and chocolate.

Janine Antoni’s artwork is influenced by gender roles. Gender roles are the ideas and expectations that people should behave in certain ways because of their gender. 

Want to learn more? Read more about Janine Antoni’s life and work


For Lick and Lather, Janine Antoni made self-portraits from soap and chocolate by melting them down and  pouring them in a mold made from her head. For this project, you will make a self-portrait from melted wax poured into a dough mold!

  1. Gather your materials. For this project you will need unwrapped crayons, dough (don’t have colorful dough on hand? Try our salt dough), a microwave-safe container (we recommend glass, but  look for a microwave-safe symbol on the container), a microwave, a tray or cup, and a variety of small objects to press into the dough. Tip: to remove the paper wrappers from crayons, place crayons in water for 2-3 minutes.
    An arrangement of materials on a white background, including a microwave-safe container full of crayons in many colors; a tray with orange, blue, green, and purple dough; a teal plastic cup; and a variety of small objects consisting of board game pieces, buttons, a penny, a puzzle piece, and a seashell.
  1. Press and play. Grab your dough and small objects and experiment by squishing the objects into the dough. When you remove the object, what do you notice? You might have seen an empty space in the shape of the object left behind! Try pressing the object into the dough from different sides. What can you make?
    Two multicolored, squashed balls of dough against a white background with small objects pressed into them including buttons, board game pieces, a seashell, a penny, and a puzzle piece.
  1. Make a face! Place your dough in a tray and flatten it out. Using your fingers, pinch around the sides to give it edges like a bowl. Then, using small objects and your fingers, make a face in the dough! What will your facial expression look like in your self-portrait? What objects will you use to create your facial features?  Remember you are creating a mold so what objects you press into the dough will pop out in your completed self-portrait.
    A tray with orange dough formed into a circular shape with raised edges. A seashell, penny and button are pressed into the clay creating a nose, mouth, and eyes. A board game piece, button, and puzzle piece lay next to the dough face.
  1. Choose your colors. If you could choose a color to describe you, what color would you choose? Would you choose your favorite color, a color that describes how you are feeling today, or something else? We recommend sticking to colors that are next to each other on the color wheel so you can make a bright and vibrant self-portrait. Break your chosen color of crayon into small pieces, and place them in a microwave-safe container.
    A microwave-safe container holding small pieces of blue, red, purple, and white pieces of crayons. Eight crayons are off to the side consisting of green, orange, yellow, black, brown, and blue.
  1. Melt, pour, cool. You will need an adult’s help for this next step! Melt your crayons in a microwave, checking every minute until completely melted. Note: a handful of crayons takes about 3 minutes to melt fully. Once the crayons have melted, carefully remove the container from the microwave, and pour the melted crayon into your dough mold. Let cool for 10 minutes and then you will have a big face shaped crayon you can draw with!
    A microwave-safe container holding purplish melted crayon is about to be poured into a circular orange dough mold of a face. The dough mold is on top of a tray against a white background.
  1. Clean it up. After your self-portrait has cooled, carefully remove the dough from the now hardened crayon. A brush may be helpful for removing dough in hard-to-get to areas. Like Antoni, you can wash your casted self-portrait with water to remove the mold. Pick out any remaining small pieces of crayon and your dough is as good as new!
    A tray with pieces of orange dough off to the side of a purplish abstract face made from crayon. A toothbrush rests off to the side of the tray.
  1. Draw with your face. Now that your portrait is clean, you can draw with your face! Janine Antoni changed the surface of her chocolate and soap self-portraits by licking and washing with them.  With your self-portrait made of crayon, you can change the surface by drawing with it on a piece of paper! How do you notice the sculpture change as you draw with it?
    An abstract sculpture of a dark purple-ish face with splotches of dark blue and red (made from melted purple, red, blue, and white crayon wax) is in the center of a white piece of paper surrounded by blue, purple, and red doodles consisting of wavy lines, swirls, circles, and parallel diagonal lines.
  1. Title your self-portrait. Janine Antoni titled her self-portraits Lick and Lather to describe the actions she performed to sculpt them. Will you use a title to describe the actions you performed to create your self-portrait as the title, or something else? 
    An abstract portrait made from melted crayon in swirled shades of red, purple, blue, and white against a white background. The face is oval-shaped with a smile, a pointy nose, and two button eyes with long eyelashes.

We want to see your creations! Share on social media @hirshhorn with #HirshhornInsideOut.

MORE WAYS TO MAKE: Mold from your body!

  1. Press a part of your body into the dough. What part of your body will you mold? If you have a small amount of dough, we recommend pressing a finger into a ball of dough. Carefully remove your finger or body part from the dough and prop it up in a cup or tray.
    A teal plastic cup full of multicolored dough with an indentation created by a finger at the center.
  1. Melt, pour, cool. 
    A teal plastic cup full of multicolored dough with orange melted crayon cooling inside of it. To the left is a microwave-safe container with melted orange crayon inside of it.
  1. Clean it up.
    A teal plastic cup and multicolored dough on a white background. Below is a toothbrush and an orange sculpture of a thumb with some dough on it.
  1. Draw with your body.
    An orange wax sculpture of a thumb is on top of a white piece of paper covered with orange crayon scribbles and swirls.


  • Have students create their self-portrait molds on trays labeled with their names and bring them to an area of the classroom where the wax will be poured in.
  •  Choose 2-3 different colors for the class to choose from
  • Other ways melt crayon wax for this project
    1. Double boiler on hot plate
    2. Wax melter (or crock pot)
    3. Place unwrapped crayons in a glue gun (tip: crayons should be as long as possible with flat ends for best results)