While at the bookstore recently and flipping through a book I saw a picture of cornstarch beads. I thought it would be a fun project for the girls and I to do together so I searched online for a recipe, gathered the supplies and got busy.
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup salt
1 cup of water
Medium sauce pan
Newspaper for table
Place cornstarch, baking soda, salt in pan and mix well. Then add water. Place the pan on low heat (I had to turn it up to medium heat for my electric stove or else it was taking too long). Stir continuously.
At first your mix will look like this:
Keep stirring (non-stop), it took us about 3 minutes for it to thicken once the coils on the stove were hot enough. Remove from heat when the mixture resembles a thick mashed potatoes.
Scoop out your mixture into several balls. The more balls you create the faster they cool down. The kids were eager to get creating so I separated the dough balls even more so they could work with them right away.
You kneed the dough in your hands to make sure it stays soft. My girls freaked when the dough developed a little layer of crust on them, thinking they were hardening beyond repair, but once they worked the dough in their hands the crusty layer disappeared and the dough was workable again.
Here is Maya working her dough:
We tried working with food coloring and initially it looked great. I'll explain at the end of the post what happened with that one :(
Before you bake the beads you'll need to poke a hole through the center of each with a tootpick (for stringing later). See how nice the bead looks with the food coloring. Not how it ends up after baking :(
Here are some of the beads before we put them in the oven. They look perfect here:
Once you are finished creating your little beads you pop them in the oven at 200 degrees and let them bake for 1 hour. If the beads are really small their holes bake closed so make sure you have a good sized bead, we made ours no smaller that the circumference of a penny.
CORNSTARCH PROJECT VERDICT
1. The cornstarch beads work GREAT! They harden in the oven perfectly.
2. Don't use food coloring! Once we baked the beads the food coloring seemed to lighten up considerably and the dough even cracked.
3. I had the girls make several beads with no color so we could use paint pens on them after they hardened and that worked PERFECTLY! The beads didn't crack in the oven, they were the right size so their holes didn't close and they painted up beautifully.
4. Make sure you leave them in the oven for the entire hour. The first round I took out in 40 minutes and although they were hard enough on the outside their insides were still soft.
5. BONUS: You can rubber stamp on the dough (we did a tree and a bee), you can also use cooky cutters (we did a flower and heart). The larger the dough piece the longer the baking time.
6. According to the site I got the tutorial from, don't let kids or pets eat the dough. Too much salt will be toxic! (remove pets from area, they love to eat the droppings as I found out).
Here is Aiyana wearing one of the cornstarch bead necklaces we made using the paint pens to color.
Next time I'm going to try and scent them and see how that bakes :)
(thanks to Jessica Wilson at Craftzine for the visual tutorial. Check out their blog for more pictures!)