In line with the post I made about the homemade passport covers, I also decided that old-fashioned salt dough ornaments would be a really sweet gift for the more old-fashioned relatives. So I made some really cute ones with this pin from pinterest as my inspiration. Sorry this is after Christmas, but I didn't want to ruin a gift surprise for any family members.
So away I went, googling how to make salt dough ornaments, since I had no idea how. This is the BEST site, with the most thorough instructions and a lot of hints, if your batch doesn't turn out properly (although it isn't hard at all). A fool can mix flour and salt. Seriously.
Here is the recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup salt 1/2 teaspoon powdered alum 3/4 cup water Mix all ingredients completely with hands. (If dough is too dry, work in 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons water.) Form shapes as desired. Mark all details (facial features, clothing and the like) on surface of dough with wooden pick or sharp knife before baking. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours. Let them cool
completely before painting.
Some of the best advice from the site I linked above (that I found helpful) is:
- Complete ornaments one or two at a time (don't assembly line) because the dough will dry out. In my case I did 2 at a time. Tedious, but it made for perfect santas!
- A toothpick can help you get finer detail and clean up any "messy" handprints. Heck, getting a sleeping baby to do a perfect handprint is nearly impossible, so you can do touchups.
- A very sharp knife will make the edge very smooth when cutting around the handprint.
- Work right on the cookie sheet to minimize handling, don't try to do the handprint on the counter and then transfer to bake.
- Write the name and year on the back of the ornament so you don't forget what year it was (or in my case, write it on the front!).
- If your edges are still rough after baking, you can use sandpaper to smooth (or even a nail file). This works like a charm!
- Embed a piece of craft wire in the shape of a loop (or a snipped paperclip) so you can hang the ornament easily.
To get Millie's handprint properly, I rolled the dough as recommended and placed a small amount of dough on a cookie sheet. Then I brought the cookie sheet into her room when she was dead asleep and pressed her hand into the dough. Then I brought the cookie sheet back out to the kitchen to cut the shape out into the dough and round the edges a little bit. The only thing I wish I had done differently is really spend the time rounding the edges more and pressing them down instead of leaving them the way they were when I cut around her handprint with a knife.
Here are the steps I followed:
1) Mix the dough
2) Roll the dough to a thickness you like (mine was about .25" thick)
3) Make the handprints
4) Cut around the handprints with a knife to separate the ornaments
5) Insert a wire loop, or the end of a paperclip, so you have a way to hang the ornament (I didn't want to try to make a hole in the dough)
6) Bake per recipe
7) Paint ornaments
8) Repaint ornaments if required (I had to for my white to show evenly)
9) Thinly coat the ornaments with Modge podge, both front and back, in order to seal them (I don't want them to crumble AT all). If the coat doesn't feel like it covered, then use several coats to get a full glossy seal.
Following all the website's instructions helped me get these right the first time. And I sealed with Mod Podge, although I think my first coat was too thick and they are a bit sticky.
When I wrapped them, I made my own small boxes out of cardstock that fit the ornaments properly and then used tissue paper to fill them up so the ornaments would be safe. I also added a picture on the top of the box that has Millie and her first visit with Santa.
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