Monday, April 13, 2009

the good stuff

Recently, I was testing projects from a kid's book on being an "eco hero" for work.  The book had plenty of interesting 'green' facts, motivating reasons to change your lifestyle, and practical ways of doing things to be healthier and greener.  One of the projects had natural food dye as an ingredient in a play dough, so off I went to Whole Foods to purchase some.  Yikes!!!  3 little vials for $20!  What?!  Who would...!? Why are they...?!  The colors were very pretty, like easter eggs only maybe a little brighter.  Now, the idea of naturally colored playdough is really in line with my philosophy, so I'm not sure why I've never thought to make them before.  I don't want my darlings eating artificial colors - I mean, where do they go once they are in there?  I see nothing blue coming out the far end, right?  Turns out (after a little tinkering), making natural playdough can be simple and beautiful AND CHEAP!  Here is a recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup brightly colored juice (blueberry, cherry, pomengranate, grape, etc.)
1/4 cup salt
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Put all ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the dough comes together.  This only takes a few minutes.  When cool enough to handle, squish and knead until smooth.  Voila.  Store in a container in the fridge.

A lovely yellow can be made by using the recipe above, replacing the juice with water, and adding a teaspoon of ground turmeric.

Update:  I just made a chocolatey brown using, you guessed it, cocoa.  Follow the turmeric version, but add 4 Tablespoons of cocoa in the turmeric's place.  It smells good, looks just like cookie dough for your young pretend bakers, but is too salty to eat!  A great addition to the above palette.

What's not to feel good about when you hand this over to those little lovelies?


  1. I am so excited I found your blog!! I love Google!!!

    I wanted to thank you for the lovely table you did in the piece "A Mother's Day Tea Party"! The tablecloth is Jessica Jones's Calliope fabric, which we produced last year. And this year, Braemore is producing it in two more colorways! I am thrilled you used it and it looks fabulous (as does the entire piece)! Jessica ( sent me the link (via one of her readers) and I felt like it was Christmas!

    Okay, so I've overused the exclamation point at this juncture, but you get the idea... please let me know if you are looking for more fabric and ribbons for your future stylings. We've got tons ( and I'd love to help!

  2. That's very cool!

    I wonder how long they keep with juice in them.

  3. OH MY!

    this is incredible.

    today....i am doing this!!!

  4. This is great. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Very cool! I love this and I'd love to link to it if you don't mind!

  6. this is fabulous!!! i just posted on my blog about making your own playdough WITH the kids (get em in the kitchen). now i need to go add this link, thanks!

  7. Great recipe, we'll definately be using this. You can also add fragance by adding a few drops of essential oil, but be careful because the oil may irritate skin if not first diulated before kneading it into the dough.

  8. I'm so happy to hear from all of you! If you store the playdough in the fridge it will keep for a while. Mine has been in there for 3 weeks and still fine.

  9. What a wonderful idea! I'm going to try this with my kids this week. :)

  10. I just found your blog via OnePrettyThing-- I've been really wanting to make this version of playdough. Can't wait to peruse your archives!

  11. Thanks! Will be using this today to make party favors for preschoolers!