This is the third year in a row that we've made salt dough ornaments—I guess it's become a Christmas tradition for us. We use them to decorate our tree and to give as gifts. We've had lots of fun with the ornaments each time and Maia keeps requesting that we make them again. The first year we made plain ornaments, then painted and glittered them. Super fun! Last year we tinted batches of salt dough different colors before making the ornaments, then decorated them with glitter glue. Not quite as successful, but still fun of course. This year, I brought out our stamps, inspired by our recent experiments with stamped cookies.
Also, this year I followed a new recipe, shared by a friend. It was much easier to work with! Here it is: Mix 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 1/2 cups water. The dough wasn't sticky at all and the ornaments kept their shapes. Perfect!
I made a tester batch ahead of time, while Maia was in school (I wanted to experiment a bit and also wanted some pre-baked ornaments for the girls to decorate). I used stamps without ink for subtle designs.
And also tried some with ink, which I really liked.
Note: The straw is perfect for poking holes to hang the ornaments.
After school, Maia, Daphne, and our friends Sarah and Marlise all did some more ornament making and stamping with a second batch of salt dough. The parchment paper you see helped keep the dough from sticking to the table.
Maia and Marlise moved on to the studio rather quickly, where they painted the pre-baked batch of ornaments. Daphne surprised us all by outlasting everyone at the table. So much for the 5 minute toddler attention span. She spent at least an hour in her seat completely engrossed in the process of stamping, using the cookie cutters, and just handling the dough. And keeping up a running commentary the entire time…
Here is a batch of salt dough ornaments ready for straw-punched holes then the oven. The snowflake is Maia's. The rest are a mix of mine and Daphne's. Daphne used the "wrong" side of the stamps more often than not, with very striking results. Maia used the entire stamp pad to color hers first before stamping it.
Here are the girls' ornaments after they baked. The black background (and my neophyte photo editing skills) make them look rather washed out. Sorry about that.
And some that I made, after they baked. I'm considering adding a coat of Mod Podge to them—has anyone done that with salt dough? I imagine it would work fine, right?
I snuck back to the studio to take a couple photos of the older two working their magic with paint (BioColor) and glitter.
Here are some of their painted ornaments (as you can see, some had been stamped first). The BioColor worked great on the salt dough! Better than tempera paint, which we've used in the past and which soaks into the dough too much and dries kind of powdery. The BioColor, on the other hand, dried quickly, stayed on the surface of the dough, and remained vibrant once dry.
How about you? Are you making salt dough ornaments this year?
Another update: I baked these at 225 degrees fahrenheit for 3-4 hours.
Update: I totally thought I had an original idea here with the salt dough stamping, but no! Melissa pointed out on facebook that she had seen examples of stamped salt dough gift tags on Pinterest, so I headed over to take a look. Not only has it been done many times before, but had I actually pinned one example of stamped salt dough on my Christmas board a few months ago (although funnily enough it turns out it was stamped clay, not stamped salt dough)!! Oh dear. I don't know if this is a crazy example of mommy brain malfunction or if I just absorbed the idea into my subconscious then forgot about it. I always try to give credit when I'm trying someone else's idea, so this is pretty disturbing to me. I wonder if I've done this before — seen an idea somewhere then later "thought of it myself". And I wonder how often other people do this?