Play Dough Making at the Mart

Yesterday I spent my afternoon in the company of a friend and a 19 month old (accompanied by his mom) at Frankenart Mart. This is the interactive gallery owned by my co-worker Leslie. Currently, her themed show is “Elementary School.” I enjoy participating in her gallery and have to be creative when I do (though at the Mart, art is for everyone… even little 5 year-olds add to the show). I decided to use my baking skills and concoct a Play-Dough from scratch and teach a class. On Saturday I assumed the role of Professor Townsend (as all visiting teachers are donned) and taught the art of play dough making.

I have made play dough a few times before – mostly in college for a group of kids I used to babysit – but I had not come across the right recipe until now. After doing some research I revised my recipe to include Baby Oil instead of vegetable oil and reduced the amount of salt. What came out was a really soft and pliable dough, very closely matched to the real Play Dough. It takes a little effort and a little more time but it is definitely worth it. Adding baby oil instead of vegetable oil also gives it a longer life without molding or going rancid. Here is the recipe, I hope those of you with kids find time to try it. (I definietly had a great time playing with it!)

Play Dough
1 1/2 C water
2 T Baby Oil
food coloring (5 drops made a nice pastel colored dough)
2 C flour
1/2 C salt
2T cream of tartar


In a double boiler over medium heat, combine water, oil, and food coloring. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the water in thirds, stirring smooth after each addition. After all the flour mix is in, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The dough will seem watery but will come together into a ball. Take off the heat and let rest until it is cool enough to handle. Knead it until smooth. It will start out a little sticky but refrain from adding flour! It will work itself out. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to be able to use it for a few months.

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