Thursday, March 08, 2007

Try Salt Dough Art

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I had a great craft idea for my classes - salt dough art!

Dough art was very popular during the 1980's when I was raising my children. This very plain salt-and-flour, cookie colored dough is fun to manipulate and work with, and it dries rock-hard. We used to make all sorts of fun craft items, from Christmas ornaments to wall plaques to woven bread baskets (remember those?).

Dough art seems to have fallen by the wayside for polymer clay (like Sculpey). By the way, if you would like to learn more about polymer clay, you'll find plenty of ideas and resources here. But right now we're talkin' salt dough, which I like best for kids because you make it yourself and it's practically free! Here's the recipe:

Heirloom Ornament Salt Dough

4 cups white flour
1 cup plain salt
1 1/2 cups water

Mix with a wooden spoon, then knead until soft and plyable. Add more flour if too sticky, more water if too dry. Place creations on upside down cookie sheet and allow to dry at room temperature. For larger items or for quicker drying time, place in oven at 250 F and check often. Projects should be hard and golden - not brown!

My plan for this project was simple enough. We would make the salt dough together. I would show a few sample Christmas ornaments (shown above), demonstrate a few techniques, then set the kids loose so they could make their own ornaments. Some did just that, but a few little tykes had their own ideas!
We ended up with a beautiful mermaid (cookie sheet size) with strategically placed seashells, a handprint "in the sand" with more seashells, and a soaring eagle. We learned that tiny seashells make great accessories for salt dough projects.
Oh well, that's what open-ended art is all about.
The next week, after the projects were hard and dry, we painted them with CeramCoat acrylic craft paints, then applied an acrylic gloss finish. (Use brush-on or spray-on finish.)

A word of caution. Your canine friends will think these are wonderful, hand-made doggy treats and will EAT them. Keep out of pets' reach.
This recipe is just one of 75 craft recipes you can find in our ebook, 75 Craft Recipes for Kids: Crafty Concoctions Your Children Will Love! You'll also find recipes for making your own paints, crayons, chalk,bubbles, play dough, paste, silly slime, hand-made paper, and much more. Great fun!