When you think of people who work in theatre, you probably imagine a lot of people in dark room, speaking with German accents, and wearing black. Sometimes that does actually happen. This is not a Sicilian wedding. It is an actual meeting to see the set models for the new show at The PlayGround Theatre. I'm the second one from the left and I'll never give up black. NEVER!
But seriously. We're all beavering away getting everything ready for the opening of Inanna and the Huluppu Tree. My job is to help write the study guide that accompanies the play and design some "hands on" activities for the kids to do in the classroom.
The play is based in Sumer and it is from this area that the oldest written records are found. Sumerians loved to write. They recorded everything on clay tablets that were small enough to carry around. Some beautiful examples can be seen at The British Museum in the Mesopotamian Room.
One of the projects I thought of was to ask the kids to make tablets out of self-hardening clay to write on with a toothpick. So tonight? I kicked it like a Sumerian. I cracked open a beer (Sumerians loved beer) and mixed up a batch of self-hardening dough "clay." I wanted to make sure the recipe was a good one and that the project would be fun - not frustrating - to kids.
It went well, and I think the kids will have a good time. I made a round one because I'm a student - only accomplished scribes wrote on the rectangular tablets. Learners used a round shape to practice on. I gave up on the toothpick after about five seconds and used an assortment of items from my kitchen drawers.
So....what do you think my tablet is "saying"?
Here is my self-hardening clay recipe if you would like to try this at home. The recipe will make enough clay for six small tablets.
Self Hardening Clay
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon alum
1 1/2 cups salt
1 1/2 cups water
Mix flour, alum and salt together in a bowl. Add water gradually to form a ball. Knead (pound, roll & pull) the clay, adding water until it no longer falls apart. Store in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Allow the clay to come to room temp for easy use. Let your finished project dry at room temp for 2 days. It will become very hard and can be painted.