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Play Dough Eight Ways: Sawdust Dough

Posted Jul 31 2009 11:11am

Play Dough You can make play dough a gazillion kabillion six million ways. Trust me—I have made play dough from laundry lint, and thusly I know my stuff.

As the packrat/eccentric lady/aficionado of bizarre craft projects and art experiences, I am the designated inheritor of a myriad of passed-down recipes for homemade art materials from both sides of my family. And having two little girls with a lot of time on their hands and a love for anything messy and hands-on, we have taken it as a project to make pretty much every recipe at one time or another. For my next few posts, I’ll be sharing with your our favorite and most unusual of the recipes we’ve collected.

First up: Do you have any sawdust?

You will need:

2 cups of sawdust (we save ours from my incompetent woodworking projects, but if you’re not in the habit of continually risking your fingers like I am, ask around at your local lumber store or hardware store with a lumber-cutting station. The one time I called Lowe’s, though, to ask about getting a refrigerator box for my girls to play in, the person I talked to was a total dick, so be aware)

3 cups of flour (we use the cheap bleached stuff for art projects, but a higher-quality white flour, or maybe even a wheat, would work as well)

1 cup of salt

Food coloring—because the sawdust is brown, this dough won’t tint to a light color well, but it will take a dark color


Whisk together all the dry ingredients, then switch to a mixing spoon and stir while adding water very gradually. The sawdust will soak up a lot of water, so get the dough on the wet side. Once the dough is pretty wet, knead it well by hand until it’s malleable but isn’t sticky.

This dough doesn’t keep well, because as the sawdust soaks up the water that remains in the dough, it will get rock-hard and impossible to mix up again. It’s perfect, however, for making nice little air-dry sculptures—just leave on a shelf for a couple of days until it’s dry through, and then you can even paint it if you want.

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