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Handmade Salt Dough Ornaments: Fun for Kids and Adults!

Picture of Handmade Salt Dough Ornaments: Fun for Kids and Adults!
This is how to make beautiful and inexpensive salt dough ornaments.  

This is a great winter break activity for kids who need something to do with their idle hands.

It can also be used to make plaques, wreaths, handprints, and for play dough.


 
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Step 1: Ingredients and Supplies

Picture of Ingredients and Supplies
Ingredients:

1 bag of plain white flour
1 full size container of salt
1-3 cups of water

Supplies:
Acrylic Paints, Tempura, or Watercolor paints
Various tools and cookie cutters
Various sizes of brushes
Bottle of gold paint
1 can of Acrylic Gloss Clear Coat

Step 2: Mixing it up

Picture of Mixing it up
1. Mix one cup of salt with one cup of flour.

2. Slowly add water while mixing mixture with your hands or a large spoon.

3. When the mixture is dough-like and not sticky* knead into a loaf on a non-stick surface or one lightly dusted with flour. 

*if it gets too sticky you can add a little more flour to smooth it out

You can store  play dough in a sealed container or a ziploc bag, 

Step 3: Rolling out the dough

Picture of Rolling out the dough
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Using a paper towel roll or a rolling pin, take a lump of dough and roll it out into a smooth patty.  From here you can cut and shape the base using the tools you have at hand.

You can use:

Butter knives, forks, skewers, and spoons

Garlic presses and citrus pressers make excellent hair.

Ceramic/clay tools  

Cookie cutters

Tips: 

The fettling knife oh the right in the picture is the most useful tool for this as it helps you cut the dough off the table/surface and set it on a non-stick pan or a glass pan.

Cutting out the basic shapes and adding layers to them works well.

You can also use basic shapes to paint designs on after they are baked.

Be gentle when you need to remove the ornament from the surface and transfer it to the baking pan.  A knife and spatula are needed to do it gently.

Different items can be used to press designs into the dough for a nice effect.

Make sure to make a hole in anything you plan to hang up.  It will need a decent amount of dough surrounding it to make it strong.

The thicker you make the items the longer it will take to cook them.  

Make sure you score items when you are sticking them together and making joins.  This means to scrape some lines into the surfaces that will be joined with a skewer or a needle tool.   Dry surfaces might need a little rub of water.

Glass bottles and metal bowls can be used as forms to shape dough bowls and cups.  They won't be watertight but they can be used for decorations.

Step 4: Curing and Baking

Picture of Curing and Baking
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You can cure your dough in two ways.

1. You can dry them in a dry place for a week or so.  Leaving them in a gas oven is a good place to speed up the process.

2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Once you have set all your ornaments on the baking tray or glass pan, gently set it in the oven and cook for 45-60 minutes checking often to see if they are browning too fast.   If they are starting to brown you can turn off the oven.

Once you turn off the oven, leave them in there to cure as the heat goes down.

You may need a knife or spatula to pry them off if they do stick.  Non-stick pans can be flexed to loosen the dough.  Glass pans may require some careful loosening to avoid cracking the dough.

If you do crack something it can easily be reglued.

Step 5: Painting

Picture of Painting
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It is a good deal of fun to paint your ornaments and they are a very forgiving surface.  If you make a mistake you can wash and scrub off the paint, then let the ornament dry again before painting.

Each kind of paint will have a different feel.  Here I used watercolor paints.  I did not mix them with water because I needed solid colors and toon much water makes the surface of the baked dough slimy.

Paint all your light colors first and work your way up to darker colors to avoid mistakes.

Make sure to do all the inside edges and sides.  You can also paint the back if you wish.

Once you are done, let them dry well before the next step.

Step 6: Gilding and Sealing

Picture of Gilding and Sealing
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To gild or frost the ornaments, take a small stiff brush and dip it dry into gold or sparkly paint.  

Make sure the paint is not too gloppy on the brush.  It should only be a bare soaking of paint.

Take the brush and lightly brush it over the surface gilding all the bumps and textures of the ornament.

Once you've reached the amount of gold and sparkles you like, let it dry again.

Step 7: Spraying the Clear Coat

Picture of Spraying the Clear Coat
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Once everything is dry and ready take a piece of cardboard or wood outside or into a well ventilated area with a fan.

Lay out the pieces so they are not touching.

Take your can of clear coat and shake it up well.  

Test the air to make sure you are spraying down wind onto the items.

Get really close and spray each one until they glisten.

Leave to dry outside.

Repeat the process, turning them over and spraying the backs to seal them.

Leave to dry until the fumes wear off.  

Make sure you don't leave them out when it is raining :)

Step 8: Finished!

Picture of Finished!
Now all you need to do is add a ribbon or a hook and you can hang your ornaments on the tree or gift to friends.

The ones below will be used as picture frames.   All you need is a picture and a piece of cardboard, then glue them to the back of the ornament.  

It makes a great customized gift.

Good Luck!

This is GOooood and amazing for CHILDREN ;)

This is cool but if you want to see something super creative check out SALT DOUGH SMILIES they are super cool and amazing for the children!
How fun! Those look great :)