Sunday, December 1, 2013

Easy Recipe for Salt Dough Ornaments

As a kid, we had a wonderful Christmas tree.  Each year, my father would cut a fresh tree from our property and bring it into the house. The tree was draped in colorful lights, packages of silver tinsel, and a combination of decades of handmade ornaments.  With the oddball assortment of macaroni-framed pictures, paper chains, or walnuts housing baby Jesus (labeled Christmas in a nutshell), the tree was more quirky than Department-store beautiful.  In other words, it was perfect.

We would swarm around our parents who kept guard over the ornaments.  We each had a favorite, and it was important to find it before another sibling could hang it on the tree.

My sister would look for the "Harold Angel" ornament.  This was a stuffed fabric ornament of an angel cat from one of those pre-printed fabric panels sold in the early 1980's.  The ornament was not much to look at -- but it came with a story.  You see, we had a big, grumpy cat named Harold.  He was anything but angelic.  The idea of him with a halo and angel wings made us all laugh.  Once my sister found the ornament, she'd break into song:  "Hark the Harold angels sing..."

My favorite was made by my father.  When I was in elementary school we had a family activity of making Christmas ornaments from salt dough.  My dad made an ornament of my mother holding me while I was holding my doll.  My mother's hair was made from dough pushed through a garlic press. The homemade ornament lasted for several decades until the fragile spaghetti-like hair started to break.  Split ends were disastrous!

Over this Thanksgiving, I sat down with my kids and we made salt dough ornaments together for the first time.  Hours passed as we laughed at our creations.  I hope you enjoy making the ornaments as much as we did.


2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

Mix with hands.  Knead on flat, unfloured surface.  No flour is needed on the kneading surface if the dough is of the right consistency.  If it sticks -- add more flour to the dough.  Roll dough out to 1/4" thick.  Use cookie cutters to make shapes.  Poke a hole in the dough to allow for a ribbon for hanging the final ornament.  Bake at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 hours on a non-stick baking sheet. Turn ornaments over one time at about 2 hours.  Cool.  Ornaments are now ready to paint with acrylics.

Our dogs are represented in the fun.