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Our felt crunchy taco shell tutorial – which uses a variation of this tutorial plus a dimensional sculpting method – is one of our most popular tutorials. Today, I want to show you how to use a very similar method to create realistic looking felt flour tortillas. These felt food items are perfect for kid’s play kitchens and for facilitating open-ended play.
What is Open Ended Play?
While much of children’s play is “scripted” (for example, board/video games, branded/character merchandise, or any play where the goal is imitation) Open-ended play allows children to create and imagine freely. Open-ended play is incredibly important for psychological development and for growing the skills young kids need in order to be able to develop into young people able to work out and manage their experience in the world.
For many children, food can be a place of conflict between parent and child. Often, children feel powerless at mealtime, and conflict can arise from how power and control are navigated at the dinner table. One reason we love making these felt food tutorials is the specific kind of play felt food facilitates. In a play kitchen, a child gets to be in charge and work out some of the conflict around food. When a child prepares a meal in their play kitchen and passes a plate to an adult to “eat” while they watch, the child is both playing and doing important work on to process their own experiences around food, eating, and meals.
Building our Felt Flour Tortilla
For this felt flour tortilla, the most important thing is starting with a good sheet of felt. If your felt is too thin, you’ll need to double up layers and add stitching to get a tortilla-like material. Too thick, and your tortilla won’t bend well (so avoid 100% wool felt for this particular project).
We like White or Angel Wings from our 35% wool blend felt for this project, or our acrylic felt for the softness it brings. In acrylic felt, Ivory and Cream are both ideal color choices. If your colors are complementary, creating multiples of a felt food project with slightly different colors can create a very realistic effect – just like you’d see in a grocery store market.
Begin by laying out your white felt and using a pattern to draw a tortilla-sized circle. I used a salad plate in the images included here. Use a charcoal fabric marking pen to trace the circle onto your felt (once cut, the ink removes completely by blotting the marks with a damp towel).
Once you’ve transferred your circle shaped to your felt, simply cut the circle out of the felt. I like to work one at a time to get good circles, but if you have a rotary cutter you can cut several layers at once.
Here’s where my tutorial differs a bit from other folks: we’re going to use an alcohol-based ink to create the color variation that results from the cooking process on actual tortillas.
In this tutorial, I am using Copic markers in colors E55 and E57 . Copic Markers are an artist’s brand of alcohol-based markers that allow me to have a lot of options for colors and shading. Any alcohol-based marker should work for this tutorial – even a brown sharpie- but to create variation in the coloring you’ll need multiple shades of brown. Stick with alcohol-based ink markers, since they won’t bleed if they get wet.
I begin by just randomly coloring a few spots in varying sizes of marks with a light brown marker. You might wish to use Google to look at images of actual flour tortillas to help re-create a natural look.
Once I create a pattern I like with the caramel brown color, I follow with a walnut brown shade, and just add the darker brown to one side of each light brown spot. This helps create the natural variation you would see on tortillas cooked on a griddle.
Once I’m done with the first side, I flip the tortilla over and
do the whole process over again.
IMPORTANT: felt is not totally opaque, and alcohol inks sometimes bleed- for this reason, it is important to match the marks on both sides. Do this by holding the material up to a light source or just flipping it back and forth.
Your alcohol ink will take just a minute or two to dry, and once dry your felt flour tortilla is ready for play! Use it for a felt taco playset, breakfast burritos, quesadillas, and more!
HINT: using a similar disc of light yellow felt with light brown cooking marks, makes for a fun base for a custom-built felt omelet.
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