Monday, December 19, 2011

Salt Dough Ornaments - Part I

We decided not to take our pajamas off today. Partly because the boys are wearing matching red snowman pajamas that are just too cute to change out of, and partly because our car is in the shop and so I knew we weren't going anywhere. Whatever the reason, it's fun to have a pajama day every once in a while.

Staying in days often breed surprises, as was the case this morning. Finn came across a recently acquired book on the shelf: Arts & Crafts from Things Around the House. Sean brought it home from work not too long ago; I think it was a cast-off from a classroom book collection. It reminds me of the craft books I used to check out from my elementary school library, and, given the 1983 publication date, it may in fact be something I read back then:

The first project that Finn selected involved collecting pine branches, splashing them with white tempera paint, adding drops of glue then sprinkling them with glitter. I managed to talk him out of that one. Then he picked out a project called "Make and Bake Play Dough."  Perfect.

The dough requires flour, water, and a lot of salt. We had everything on hand that we needed (except the shellac, which we will do later). I pulled out a handful of cookie cutters and we were on our way.

NOTE: This makes a ridiculous amount of play dough. I filled two big cookie sheets with ornaments and still froze enough to make at least one more batch (I should add that I'm not sure you can freeze salt dough, but I though it was worth a shot). You may want to halve the recipe if you don't need a bajillion ornaments.

Make and Bake Play Dough
  • Mix 2 cups salt, 5 cups flour, and 2 cups warm water. I put it in my stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.  Add additional water as needed to make the dough easy to handle.
  • Knead until smooth.
  • Roll out with a rolling pin on waxed paper to a 1/2 inch thickness.
  • Use a knife or cookie cutter to cut the dough to desired shapes. Transfer to a cookie sheet. If you want to hang your creations, poke a hole at the top (a straw works really well for this).
  • Bake at 300 for a hour (I baked mine a little longer - they still seemed soft after an hour). When they are cool, paint and coat with a clear shellac.
Making the dough was fun. Rolling out the dough was fun. Cutting out the shapes was fun. But painting was by far the most fun. We decided early on to make some presents, and Finn had a good time planning different designs for different people. He made a little ornament for each of the kids in his preschool class, and I made a bunch to add as gift toppers.We used acrylic craft paint; the only downside of this is that it stains fabric, so I was a bit manic about Finn's use of it. I might try paint markers in the future until he is a little older.

The ornaments I liked the best were the ones I painted to read "HO HO HO."  I plan on stringing them onto a garland and hanging them in the kitchen. I made the letters by pressing refrigerator magnets into the soft dough, then painting over the indentations.  I originally was going to do "JOY" until I realized that I needed to use letters that worked in mirror image. "HO HO HO" was the perfect solution :)

We're not done with this project yet - it'll take a few days to see it through to completion. But here are a few pics of our progress so far.

1 comment:

  1. I totally made these from a similar book when I was little! You're not just making ornaments... you're making memories :)