Natural Dye for Homemade Playdough

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Introduction: Natural Dye for Homemade Playdough

I have discovered lately that its really easy to dye homemade playdough with natural ingredients. We dyed ours using raspberries, rose petals, beetroot, blueberries, turmeric and oak tree bark. Check out the results in the picture. Pretty good eh?

As well as creating some great playdough it’s also a lovely way to teach kids that some of the most beautiful dyes can be found in your own back yard.

You can read this, and other eco-craft ideas at minieco.co.uk.

Step 1: Extract the Dye

Raspberries

Put a big handful of raspberries and a cup of water in a pan. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below

Rose petals

Roughly tear up the petals from about six red roses and put in pan with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.

Beetroot

Chop up one medium sized beetroot and put in pan with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 10 minutes. Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.

Blueberries

Put a big handful of blueberries and a cup of water in a pan. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.

Turmeric

Put approx two teaspoons of turmeric in a pan with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve and follow the recipe below.

Oak tree bark

Put a big handful of oak tree bark in a pan with a cup of water (its best not to take it directly from the tree – if you scout around you will find plenty on the ground). Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 20-30 minutes (until liquid has reduced to about half). Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.

Step 2: Gather All Your Ingredients

½ cup of flour, 
½ cup of dyed water, 
¼ cup of salt, 
½ tbsp cream of tartar, 
½ tbsp cooking oil, 

Step 3: Make Your Playdough

♥ Combine all the ingredients in a pan (don’t worry about sieving the flour).
♥ Put the pan on a medium to low heat and keep stirring until mixture forms a ball. It will probably stick to the bottom and sides of the pan too!

Step 4: Knead!

♥ Allow it to cool a little and knead it on a well floured worktop.

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    30 Comments

    I used dried blueberries I found in the cupboard and it made a nice strong eggplant color. More affordable this time of year when berries aren't in season. Any suggestions for a nice green? I tried spinach but it just made a dirty brown water.

    This website has a big list of natural dyes, but a few of them aren't food-safe. There's also a bunch of suggestions in the comments!

    http://www.pioneerthinking.com/crafts/crafts-basics/naturaldyes.html

    Interesting and great! I'd love to see a little more added to this 'Ible though. Like, could you show us a better photo of the different dyes and what they look like once added to the dough? I can't tell which dyes were used in which dough from the one photo. Also, it'd be nice if there were some additional directions on what to do with the dough/how to use it. Like can I bake this dough? If so at what temperature? Does it dry out easily? Does it stain fingers/countertops?

    Hi batness, Have a look at my main photo. In the front row (running left to right) you can see a) undyed b) raspberry c) turmeric. In the second row back there is a) blueberry b) beetroot c) oak tree bark and d) a tiny peek of rose petal. As for colour intensity – its a bit hit and miss really. If in doubt make the colour as strong as you can. Then you can mix it with some undyed playdough to make the colour less intense! Generally speaking beetroot is a very strong colour so thats the only one I would be inclined to go easy with! You can make different kinds of playdough that you can bake but this one is meant to stay soft and is only for play! No - it doesn't dry out - as long as you store it in an airtight container. If it does get a little dry then simply knead in a teaspoon of water. Once made it lasts for ages. No need to keep it in fridge - the salt is a fantastic preserver. Once the dough is made I have experienced no problems with staining (having said that I wouldn't let my son wear a pristine white top whilst playing with it - but that also applies to regular playdough) When you are making the dough I would take the usual precautions - use a chopping board, wear an apron, avoid using your best saucepans etc. Having said that I used my best stainless steel pans and experienced no problems at all. If you are worried about staining just give your kids an undyed batch. My kids love it undyed because it looks like ‘proper’ pastry. :-)

    Hmmn that's really interesting about the heating to combine... What is the purpose of that? Perhaps to unravel some of the gluten in the flour? when I was a kid we just mixed the flour, salt and water (with coloring or not) in a bowl. It would dry out eventually, but as you said it will rejuvinate with a little water unless you let it get too dry, then it's just easier to make more if you let it get dry enough to crumble into little rocks. However, the one thing I'm wondering is, you state in your comment above that this one isn't for baking, is it the salt/flour ratio or something that affects that or that you heated to combine? Because the stuff we made was remarkably similar (I don't remember exact proportions as it was a VERY long time ago) but didn't combine heated. This stuff turned into an extremely hard substance once baked. Have you tried baking your formula just to see what would happen?

    Heating makes it more elastic. I'm not sure about the chemistry, but I've made both the standard salt clay you describe and this type, and the uncooked stuff can get pretty crumbly, but this mix is more plasticky in texture.
    Not sure if this can be baked.

    Hi MCE, i actually haven't tried baking it. I just presumed it wouldn't bake very well (or keep its shape). I'll give it a go and let you know.

    That would be really nice! Thanks!

    Anything that allows you a chance to work with natural dyes has got to be fun. I wanted to try this with some natural wool. Thanks for the tips