Remember how I said I hadn't shared a single dried pasta craft in 11+ years of blogging? Time to change that! But what to make? When I design crafts, I try to fill gaps. The world doesn't need more tutorials for macaroni necklaces or pasta snowflakes. We don't need another explanation of how to dye pasta. We do need more realistic reptile crafts. So I decided to try to make a banded snake using a different method for coloring pasta than either dip-to-dye or brushing on acrylic paint.
After a lot of experimentation, I came up with a pasta version of an Eastern Coral Snake.
The first step was picking my pasta. I wanted my snake to have realistic curves, so elbow macaroni was out because the bends are too sharp. My next thought was rigatoni. Maybe I could cook the dried pasta, shape it with a gentle curve, then let it dry that way? We were out of rigatoni, so I used penne. In retrospect, I should have waited for rigatoni. Since penne is cut on the bias, I really struggled with gluing the pieces together without leaving gaps. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I boiled a bunch of penne, dried it off (not carefully enough, as it turns out) and put it on parchment paper. Then I dipped a wet paintbrush into food dye and painted the middle third of some penne. I made some black and some red. You can see some of the red ones in the bottom right where the dye ran up the ridges because I hadn't dried it off sufficiently. I gently bent about half of the pieces, hoping that when I left them to dry, they'd retain a gentle bend. Answer: not really.
I cooked more penne and bent the warm pieces into demitasse cups. I left them to dry, hoping they'd retain the bends. Success!
I painted the curved pieces with food dye, then used yellow food dye to color the ends. Then I did my best to fit the pieces together, the diagonal edges of the penne fighting me all the way. When I found an arrangement I liked, I glued it to a piece of background paper and added the label. (I'd thought about nestling it in a bed of tomato sauce instead of using glue on paper, because until I added glue, the pasta was edible... if cold and a bit crunchy.) Since making my snake, I've thought of a bunch of things I'd do differently if I made it again. I may or may not do some future experimentation for pasta snakes.
One more thing I want to share: in researching coral snakes, I came across this interesting article about the famous rhyme. Since I'm not in the habit of touching snakes in the wild and I don't kill snakes, it doesn't really matter to me whether the rhyme holds true 100% of the time.