Make Famine Relief Tokens Parshat toldos

Irish famine relief tokens

Potato Blight

In Ireland in the autumn of 1845 when people went to harvest their potatoes, they found the potatoes had been attacked by a fungus called blight which had rotted the potatoes in the ground.

This was very serious as a third of the population of Ireland was entirely dependent on the potato for food. The following year the potatoes were attacked by the blight again and this time the people had nothing left. Most of their resources were gone and they faced starvation.

The main official famine relief was outdoor relief where people had to labour hard to earn a little money to buy food at inflated famine prices. Many died over the winter of 1846/47. The temporary measure of soup kitchens was brought in to help the population survive to the harvest of 1847. Up to three million people were fed this way for a short few months. Death rates fell substantially and the kitchens were closed down before the harvest. The harvest was poor and the winter saw desperate half-starved people fleeing the country, many in ships with such a high death rate that they were known as coffin ships. Over the famine period 1 million people died and 1 million people emigrated.

Famine relief tokens enabling the holders to receive a free meal from a soup kitchen in 1847.


You'll need:

For clay:

1 cup corn flour

1 cup pva glue

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons oil (baby oil)


Plastic food bag

Food colouring (optional)

For Stamps:


Carving tools/ knife


Pour into a microwave safe bowl the cornflour and pva...

Mix then add the lemon juice and oil.

Mix again then place mixture in a microwave for 30 seconds, take out to give a stir and place back in microwave for 30 seconds, repeat about 4 or 5 times or until mixture is no longer runny.

Cover your hands and surface with vaseline and carefully take mixture out of bowl and knead for about 10 minutes. Careful, mixture will be hot at first.

After the clay has been kneaded, place vaseline inside a plastic food bag and spread until sides are covered. Place the clay inside and place in the fridge for an hour or so.

(If there is any left over after activity, keep in fridge in plastic bag taking out any air from the bag as it is air drying clay.)

Next you'll need some potatoes and carving tools...

Create your stamps...

Now take out the clay from the fridge, spread some vaseline on the board and on your hands, take some clay and roll out...

Use your potatoes to stamp shapes and numbers into the clay.

You can also add colour to some of your clay tokens, just add a little food colouring to some clay and knead it in for a minute.

Complete! Just leave out to dry overnight.

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