How to Dye Pasta and Make Necklaces

May 13, 2013

One of my favourite activities to do in my home daycare at this time of year is to whip up a vibrant batch of pasta for playing and crafting with.

The process of hand-dyeing pasta is simple, using vinegar and food colouring. The vinegar helps to distribute the food colouring, and to ensure that the pasta is colour-fast once dry. I prefer it as a child-friendly alternative to rubbing alcohol. On this day, we had pasta necklaces in mind so we dyed six small batches of pasta, using every colour of the rainbow.

What you'll need:

  • uncooked pasta (choose a hollow pasta, like penne, if you're making necklaces)
  • food colouring (icing gels, as seen above, or liquid food colouring)
  • vinegar
  • plastic containers with lids (or re-sealable food storage bags)
  • cookie rack

You'll also love: Personalized Acorn-Cap Necklaces

How to dye your pasta in 4 simple steps:

1. Place the pasta in a food container (the amount can be a couple of handfuls to a couple of cups).

2. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tsp of vinegar with a generous dab of icing gel or several drops of food colouring. (Do each colour one at a time. No mixing! Unless you really want to!)

3. Pour the vinegar/icing gel mix over the pasta, seal the container, and now for the fun part, have your child SHAKE IT like crazy, until the pasta is well coated. (Hint: purple pasta must always be done twice; we re-coat immediately while still wet.)

4. Pour the pasta out in a single layer onto a cookie sheet to dry.

Isn't it gorgeous?

It's great for sensory play, too!

The pasta looked so inviting that I let The Hooligans explore it before crafting with it. I set out a few bowls and a shallow cardboard box, and they simply sifted through the pasta, scooping and pouring it into the various containers, enjoying the colours, the feel and the sound of the pasta as they ran their hands through it.

How we made them:
When the children were ready to make their necklaces, I gave each child a plastic sewing needle and a long length of yarn. I tied one piece of pasta on to the end of the yarn to prevent the pasta from slipping off.

Young children can thread their pasta in random order, while older children can practice patterning with their necklaces.

Once your child is happy with their creation, simply un-tie that first piece of pasta you secured in place, and knot both ends of the yarn together. So simple, so fun and so beautiful!

If you're looking for more creative, yet inexpensive arts, crafts and activities for young children, come on over and visit me at Happy Hooligans. You'll find loads of affordable inspiration over there!

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.