Playing for Keeps: Robust Putty Binds Found Objects into Colorful Furniture

Colorful but powerful, this strong synthetic dough (dubbed
PLAY) looks like modeling clay made for kids, but can hold
together all kinds of materials including wood, metal, glass
and marble. The idea, in part, is to facilitate creative
freedom, allowing anyone to become a designer.

Developed by London designer Stephen Johnson
started with Play Doh and other similar materials, but found he
needed something more — a mixture that was both pliable but
also could form a durable solid when cured for connecting parts
and pieces. The components can be just about anything,
including leftover furniture bits and pieces, construction
materials or simply found objects.


“The objective was to design functional products using kids
dough, but given its soft nature it’s just not feasible,” he
explains. “I needed a material that looked and behaved in the
same way but became rigid over time.”

He spent years developing his secret recipe, an
organic/synthetic hybrid, that is easy to mold, stick and make
solid. Then, for fun, he began mixing in colors, mimicking some
of the other more playful variants already on the market. The
multi-hued results also encourage a certain level of
experimentation — if the object is going to look a bit wacky
anyway, why not use a broom handle here, or a toilet plunger
shaft there?


“It is about the innovative freedom we had as kids, being
spontaneous, putting objects and materials together without
restriction – designing in the moment with our hands,
imagination and the things we have around us.” In the end,
there are a lot of possibilities, from crafting colorful
furniture and decor objects to modeling, arts and crafts
applications. Or really: anything fun.

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