Once Macnair has settled on a photograph to recreate, she selects tubs of Play-Doh from her supply (she uses colors straight out of the tubs, except for skin tones, which she mixes by hand) and readies her tools: a cutting board, a scalpel, toothpicks, and a wine bottle (used as a makeshift rolling pin). She begins by rolling out a thin slab of Play-Doh on the cutting board, then cuts out elements to start the background.
“I want to keep an amateur aesthetic so that it remains accessible,” Macnair explained. “When people see the works, they’re not too slick. When you see a painting, you see the different textures, the brushstrokes—so I like it when you can see my fingerprints.”
Macnair works quickly, creating each piece within 24 hours, before the Play-Doh begins to dry. Once complete, she photographs it using her Nikon camera with a macro lens, lighting the work in a way that echoes its source image. Then, she disassembles the piece and saves the Play-Doh. The project lives on digitally in photographs, as well as prints for sale. Macnair once tried to preserve one of the Play-Doh reliefs with sealant and varnish, but it still shriveled, due to the medium’s high water content.