...And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good...
-Genesis 1:11-12

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Safe, Natural Playtime! Playdough & Natural Dye recipes

Play dough is a fun way for kids to wile away the hours. I have begun a weekly babysitting job to three children, so I decided to make a couple batches of play dough for them. With a little brother who cannot eat or handle anything with artificial colorings (the dyes can be absorbed through your skin) and being responsible for the safety of three little ones, I wanted to make sure everything was as natural and healthy as possible, so I wanted to color it with plant-based dyes! I made pink and purple last week - not very good boy colors - but the materials I used to make the dye was pretty much the only colors I had on hand. I am looking forward to learning more about plant based dyes, and have put The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes into my wishlist; which though I think it's mostly for dying textiles and yarn and such, I think it will be useful in studying plant dyes.

I used the recipe for juice-dyes from Better Basics for the Home, the playdough recipe has been in my family for a long time, it's my grandmother's recipe, she used to make it for my dad and aunts and uncles, my brothers and I and my cousins, and my mom would make it for my brother and I, and Seth and I enjoy making it together. There are plenty of wholesome homemade recipes for homemade playdough around though if you want to try a different one. There is even one in Better Basics, which is basically just the same.
Alright, well here are the recipes!

For a pale pink I used cranberries, and blueberries for purple. I'll be putting a complete list of the most recommended materials for each color on my blog soon!

Plant-Based Juice Dye
1/4-1/2 cup plantstuffs
2 cups water

Place dying materials into a saucepan with water and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Strain and pour into a glass jar with a lid.
Play dough
1 Tablespoon canola, vegetable or olive oil.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
2-3 Tablespoons juice dyes.

Add first five ingredients into saucepan and mix, add juice dyes and get to desired shade and cook over medium heat. Stir until it forms a ball of dough. Remove from heat let it cool for a moment and knead until smooth. Let cool and then put into an airtight container or bag or play with it ;) .

Because of the high amounts of salt, the kiddies will have a bit of salty residue on their hands after playing, but this is normal.
Home-made playdough tends to get salty and dry after a month or two, but there is no need to pitch it yet; just put some oil (a teaspoon or two) in your hands or on the dough and knead it in, and it should be completely refreshed and ready to go!

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