A few weeks ago, we turned a rainy day into a pretty good time by making our own play dough. Much as I’d prefer to be outside soaking up what’s left of summer, rain seems to be the standard forecast these days. Still, we managed to find a good time in our usual DIY fashion. This week we tried our hand at a new craft for kids (and adults, too!): homemade nutty putty.
What is nutty putty anyway? You may know it best as Crayola’s Silly Putty. But the story of this classic toy starts during World War II, when rubber shortages were profound. In an attempt to create a viable synthetic rubber, engineer James Wright combined boric acid and silicone oil and discovered the results had interesting properties. It bounced high, stretched far and melted only at high temperatures. Although it didn’t turn out to be the rubber substitute he had hoped for, as a novelty it was a great success. Thus, nutty putty was born and within a few years became the “must have” toy of the 1950′s.
When a friend passed along a recipe she had found for a homemade version, I was intrigued. By combining Elmer’s glue and liquid starch, we enjoyed a revelation similar to that of James Wright. This stuff bounces, it stretches, it lifts pictures out of the funny papers and it doesn’t stick to clothes. This magic has something to do with the glue’s properties as a liquid polymer causing molecules to strand together when introduced to the liquid starch.
Man, I love science.
Ready to give homemade putty a try? It takes just a few minutes, and older kids will have no trouble making their own with adult supervision. Rainy day optional.