Sunday, November 19, 2017

Salt Dough Season!!

Hi all! Last night I hosted the family holiday gathering for my mother's side of the family. It was the first time I've been "allowed" to host it and it was a lot of fun ... and a LOT of work. So while I am in "recovery mode" and enjoying a second cup of coffee, I thought I'd get a head start on getting the blog back in the holiday spirit and show off some of the salt dough ornaments the kids decorated yesterday while my brother and I cooked the feast!

On Thursday, I made a batch of salt dough ornaments while prepping for the family visit. (O.k., I was avoiding cleaning the kitchen.)

Recently, we pulled our Christmas decorations out early so that we could sort through and make a holiday box for a local family who lost all their belongings in the flooding after Hurricane Harvey. I also wanted to make some ornaments that their 5 children could decorate and make their own. So here's what I did ...

Salt Dough Recipe:

  • 4 c. Flour (DO NOT use self-rising)
  • 1 c. Kosher Salt
  • 1 1/2 c. Water 

** The kosher salt makes it look like it has crystals, you can use regular salt if you'd like.

Step 1:

I preheated my oven to 200 degrees then mixed all the ingredients together. When you first begin to mix, you may find that its too dry and you can add small amounts of more water. I think I may have added 3 or 4 Tbs more to mine. You just want to make sure to not add too much, because then its too watery to roll our and won't hold its shape.

I kneed the dough for 8-10 minutes to ensure it was fully mixed.

Step 2: 

After the dough has been mixed, I laid it out on wax paper to roll it out. The biggest problem I have ad in the past was when I cut the ornaments out and move them from the counter/work surface to the baking sheet, they lose their shape. So I decided to cut them on wax paper then move them to the baking sheet like that. This was a good solution, but not great, but I'll explain that in a further step.

When rolling out the salt dough, you want to try and get a nice even thickness. I'd made some in the past that were too thin and broke easily, however, if it's too thick, the baking time can last HOURS and HOURS.

Step 3:

Cutting out the ornaments of the most fun part ... kids love it for obvious reasons, but I like to challenge myself to see just how many I can get our of the first roll out of dough. So I turn and manipulate the direction of the cookie cutter to get the most possible. (Can you tell I like puzzles?)

Once I have gotten all the pieces cut out, I carefully remove the excess from between them. Removing the excess and not the actual ornament means that they hold their shape, so their is little change from the original shape. (We have some really abstract Mickey Mouse faces.)

I take the excess removed from between the ornaments, roll it out again and cut more ornaments. I repeat until I've used most the the dough. I will add that the longer I work the dough (rolling and cutting), the tougher it becomes, though it has never changed the outcomes of the ornaments.

Optional to Step 3:

Before cutting your pieces you can use textured items to "emboss" your ornaments. I used my great grandmother's lace table cloth this time, but created an ornament with the (reverse) Mason Jar design and other things. Just get creative! You could do it after as cutting the ornaments, but you then have to do it to each individual ornament, so for a lace look its easier before you cut.

Step 4:

Use a straw to poke holes in the top of the ornaments. I like to use Chick-fil-A straws because they are a larger straw, but any size will do as long as you can get your ribbon through the hold later.

** Do no skip this step. I did before and you have to get creative gluing the ribbon to the backs and they are heavy for an ornament, so you have to hot glue or use a really strong one.

Step 5: 

Bake 2-3 hours at 200 degrees. I'm used copper baking sheets for first time ever, not sure how much it alters time, but my ornaments were a little thicker than usual and I baked them 3.5 hours and left them in the oven as it cooled.

Note on Using Wax Paper: The wax paper helped me move the ornaments to the baking sheet, but even at the low temperature, the paper curled and wrinkled. This is fine if you don't mind the back of your ornaments having a textured back or if the ornaments aren't completely flat because they will hardened as the wax paper curls. I usually use an Applique Pressing Sheet by Bear Thread Designs, but I couldn't find it for this batch. (Later I found it under the baking pans.) The non-stick craft sheet is great for using the cookie cutter because its durable and can handle a much higher heat. It also helps heat the backside of the ornaments and they cook/dry more evenly.

I try to turn the ornaments over the last 30 minutes or so to make sure they dry all the way through. I leave them that way until they cool.

Finishing Step:

Once the ornaments have cooled, you can decorate with paint, glitter, markers and more. The kids colored their yesterday with markers, but I painted two on Friday with gold and white acrylic paints.

Once you are finished decorating, simply use an ornament hanger or ribbon to hang it on your tree!

I can't wait to see what creative ornaments your family makes. Be sure to drop a photo in the comments!

Until next time, stay #creativelyinspired!

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