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play-dough-ful stress relief

So yesterday my computer got stolen. Except that it didn’t. But I spent about 15 hours thinking it had been, and it wasn’t till this morning when I got to work that a coworker informed me that I’d left it in another part of the office before leaving work, a place I’d forgotten I’d been and had neglected to look when retracing my steps. So yes, that was pretty damn stupid of me.

But as I said, I spent many hours thinking that my computer – the object I can least afford to lose, and that allows me to communicate with you, gentle readers – was gone. That’s a level of frustration and stress I do not need to experience again anytime soon.

So I’ve been thinking: there is much frustration and stress in life. Crafts are fun, crafts are awesome, but how about a craft for the times when you are far too stressed already to deal with finicky cut-outs or a needle and thread or gluing a million tiny sequins onto a lampshade? The times when you just want to punch something.

That’s why this week’s “craft” is making play dough. Because sometimes, a little reversion to childhood and the opportunity to beat something squishy with your fists is really where it’s at.

1) Mix together the following ingredients. (Stir it all with a spoon until it’s pretty well mixed and the boiling water part of the mix has cooled. You don’t need to add burned fingers to your list of stresses.)

– 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat b/c that’s what we had in the house. Works fine.)
– 1 cup boiling water
– 2 T cream of tartar 
– 1/2 cup salt
– 1 T oil
– food colouring (Except that I left my food colouring at Mary’s back when we made those Valentine’s Day cookies, so my play dough is dough coloured. Which is disappointing, but still almost as satisfying to punch, if not to sculpt with.)

(Please note that this play dough, while it won’t harm you if consumed – apart from sending your blood pressure to the moon – is not edible. Unless you’re a deer that hasn’t seen a decent salt lick in 8 months.)

2) Knead it. You just go on and knead the crap out of that stuff. Add more flour if it’s still too sticky. On the one hand, you want it to be un-sticky so it doesn’t make a mess when playing with it. On the other hand, it could be fun to leave it a bit gooey and throw it at a bit of linoleum floor or plastic-wrap-covered wall/table/willing person – I’m imagining some very satisfying splats. Maybe multicoloured splats – if only I had that food colouring! And when you’re done, call up the Georges Pompidou and tell them you’ve discovered a new 3D Jackson Polluck piece, sell it for a zillion bucks and move to Tahiti. Stress gone, mission accomplished!

3) Show that play dough who’s boss and work out some stress!*

*Obviously you will not need to bother with this step if you have already gone with the gooey play dough –> 3D Jackson Polluck –> Tahiti option in step 2. Enjoy working on your tan.
Leave a comment


  1. Pompidou, not Pomadou. Forgetting where you left an expensive tool is pretty silly.

  2. admin

     /  March 13, 2010

    Careful editing and spell check are for serious, non-silly people. :P

  3. Glad your laptop wasn’t stolen.

    Play Dough is great for stress relief, but you need a few drops of food coloring to improve its effectiveness. Its been proven to be 90% more relaxing when you knead colorful play dough than plain white or brown flour colored play dough*.

    *Statistic provided by the Internet Bureau of Fake Statistics

  4. That picture should be your avatar.

  5. your one amazing person, i envy you

  6. Sarah

     /  June 7, 2012

    Thanks mate! needed some ideas for stress craft ideas for a group course on stress, something that’s fun! Cheers! P.S. ( how can I put it in a balloon for stress balls?)

    • Tally

       /  June 8, 2012

      Awesome, glad it’s being useful for you! :) To put it in a balloon, a piping bag seems like a solid idea. And you can just make your own piping bag by cutting the bottom corner off of a small ziploc bag – that would probably be easiest.

  7. Sarah

     /  June 7, 2012

    Piping bag?

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