Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salt Dough

(happy crow. Monthly Theme Challenge: White)

Today's recipe isn't edible, but your results will last longer than any batch of dough you've ever made! With three ingrediants and a little paint you can create whimsical characters by sculpting figurines, playing with cookie cutters and baking your results until they dry. Anything you can do with cookie dough or play dough, you can do with salt dough-but this time you get to keep your favorites forever!

For today's project, I set out to make a snow man. I intentionally used dough that's on the wet side, as I did when I created the adorably fat Santa pictured below. I envisioned a slumpy hobo clown leaning on his broom. I knew the dough would droop a little as it baked. Instead he tipped forward and what came out was a snowman that looked like he was falling and trying to catch himself. I was tempted to toss it and start over but I just couldn't give up on the little guy! I'm glad I stuck it out. I think he's pretty cute.

One of the funnest parts of working with salt dough is painting your figurines. I get caught up in the sculpting and wondering what will come out of the oven, and painting feels like a bonus. I use cheap acrylic paint and a teeny tiny brush for the details. Sometimes when I'm making a gift or something I want to finish beautifully, I'll spray the whole thing with several coats of matte varnish after the acrylic paint has dried.

Salt Dough

2 cups flour
1 cup cheap salt
3/4 cups water

Mix by hand until fully combined. The dough may seem dry, grainy or crumbly. Sprinkle a little water in if needed but avoid adding too much water. It will moisten as it sits and will smooth out as you work.

Create anything you like, keeping your thickness to less than 1/2 inch. Bulk out the center of figurines with balled up tin foil.

To make a hole for hanging, use a straw. Apply wire to the wet dough for effects such as whiskers or the snowman's arms. It will bake into the dried dough permanently. I also use a rolling pin, toothpicks and other various implements to get the thickness or texture I'm looking for in the dough.

Bake on a sheet pan on foil or parchment paper at 250F until it's dry (1.5 to 2.5 hours).

Cool completely, then paint.

For a more finished look, sand the dried dough with sandpaper to create smooth edges before painting.

You won't believe how easy this project is-try it and have fun!

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