Guaranteed goo time
Alyssa Jagan has always been an avid crafter, but making slime led her to become an internet star. Dave McGinn learns how slime-making videos on Instagram have helped her connect with other teens
All the ingredients were there for Alyssa Jagan – literally.
When she was four or five years old – years before it became an internet sensation – Jagan and her mother, both avid crafters, tried their hands at making slime.
"It was very basic. It was like a gooey mess," says Jagan, a 16-year-old slime-making sensation who lives in Toronto.
She eventually got bored of it and moved on to making figures out of clay and trying her hand at calligraphy. But by the summer of 2016, the great slime invasion had begun. A few people were posting videos of making slime on Instagram and it persuaded Jagan to go down to the basement and dig out the basic ingredients and see what she could do with them and this new online inspiration.
What was just a passing fancy the first time around suddenly blossomed into the thrill of mad science experiments.
"There were so many different variations I could make. I could make so many different colours. I could add so many different things to it," she says. "I experimented a lot. … You can be so creative with it that I'm never bored."
Being 16 and inspired by social media to begin with, it was only natural for Jagan to make her own videos and post them on Instagram. First, though, she had to get permission from her mother. "I didn't even have a clue what Instagram was," says Alyssa's mom, Ahilya, who gave her daughter the green light on the condition that the videos only show her hands.
The first few were viewed by only a handful of people. One video would get five views, another 10. Then, a few months later, she posted a video of a glossy purple slime that went viral, garnering some 30,000 views.
"I remember being like, 'Wow,'" Alyssa Jagan says. To date, Jagan has posted more than 1,200 videos. Her Instagram account, @craftyslimecreator, now has around 825,000 followers.
Jagan makes neon blue slime, textured silver slime, pink slime, slime with gold leaf – a kaleidoscopic world of slime made with just a few basic ingredients and an endless imagination.
"I use food colouring. You can also use acrylic paint. You can use different pigments," Jagan says. "I love experimenting with texture and different ingredients. I love trying to find new ingredients to put in to slime."
Why is she hooked on slime now when she got bored of it at first all those years ago? Jagan says thanks to Instagram, there is a flourishing group of people to interact with who help fire her imagination.
"I don't think I would love it as much if I didn't have other people to talk to about it online," she says.
Whenever she posts videos, Jagan will usually also ask a few questions in order to help spark a discussion.
A few recent examples include, "What is the best gift you've ever received?" "What's your go to after school/work snack?" and "What do you like to drink with breakfast?"
"I want to start a conversation in the comments," Jagan says.
As slime has grown in popularity, that conversation has sometimes gotten overwhelming for Jagan. When an agent approached her earlier this year about writing a book, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to deal with the thousands of direct messages she was receiving from fans online.
"I was getting so many questions. I was just like, I need one thing I can point to and say, 'Here are the answers to all of your questions,'" Jagan says.
She makes her videos in her room at home, where she has set up two stage lights on her desk. There are cubbies filled with slime supplies and her bookshelves are filled with calligraphy tools.
"I have always loved crafting," Jagan says. "I used to make homemade squishies a lot."
She also went through a phase of making duct tape moulds and covering binders and pens with the stuff. But, nothing has proven to be a source of endless invention and experimentation the way slime has.
It will be a long time before her slime making gear gets packed up and put in the basement.
"As long as there are other people I can talk to about slime, I'll be making slime," she says.