Sylvia McNicoll at Imagine in the Park Festival

June 7th, 2016

On Saturday June 4, hundreds of children swarmed Gage Park for the annual Imagine in the Park Festival—a hands-on arts festival that featured 11 artists creating everything from painted t-shirts and balloons (and loud drumming) to play dough flies and poetry with Sylvia McNicoll, author of Revenge on the Fly. While shaping these icky, sticky creatures, participants listened to a quick buzz through the history behind the story and joined in to write sense and imagery-based poetry from the fly’s point of view.


Sylvia McNicoll connecting with young readers at Gage Park.


An excited reader holding her copy of Revenge on the Fly.

In addition to sharing the photos from her workshop, Sylvia also passed along her play dough recipe and instructions to make flies of your own. (Click here to download the .pdf instructions.)


While there are many play-dough recipes around, the challenge is colouring it as black as a housefly. Craft stores and bulk stores sell black colouring for fondant and icing, but you can heat 20 drops of green food colouring together with 10 drops of red until it bubbles. Add the food colouring to the water in this recipe:

Play-dough recipe

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar (optional)

Heat water and salt together to dissolve. Add black food colouring.

Combine with flour, oil and tartar. Cook three minutes, constantly stirring, until it turns into a lump.

When cool enough to handle, wear plastic gloves (or risk black-stained hands!) to knead dough together till smooth.


For fly’s body, shape play dough into large bean shape. For eyes, use beads from old necklaces. Stick into either side of the narrow part of your bean.  To create wings, cut tear drop shapes from meat trays, plastic clam shells or any cardboard and jab pointy ends into body where you desire. For legs, stick three pieces black twine, wire or pipe cleaners across bottom of body (flies have six legs!), use a smidge of play dough to hold them in place. Or form little play dough worms and stick them on.


Click here
to read Sylvia’s post about the event.

Posted in Revenge on the Fly