Salt dough. It’s messy, fun, and it sometimes gives you what you want. I swore off it 15 years ago after a college mythology project when I constructed a Goddess Athena statue to go with my model of the Parthenon. As I recall I had a heck of a time trying to get the dough to cook all the way through. Salt dough and I go way back. It’s a substance that is satisfying until THE ISSUE arises. It may be different each time but I have found that there is always at least one.
My Aunt Mary (whom I bear no ill will) recently suggested making cute Santa ornaments out of salt dough using a child’s hand print. The recipe is quite simple- a half cup of flour, a half cup of salt, and approximately 1/4 cup water. Just mix, knead, roll it out, and push your kid’s hand right in there. Trace around the hand print with a knife. Poke a hole in the top so it can be hung later on. Bake at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours.
Well, first of all, the ideal dough thickness was not specified. After experimenting a bit it seems to be 1/4 inch. However if you are using handprints from a 2 and a half year old that’s going to yield some mighty heavy ornaments. I figured I’d try it anyway and if it bombed I’d just redo them using the baby’s hand prints instead. Then it occurred to me that his hands are almost as big.
The first issue we ran into was that my toddler kept pushing her palm so deep into the dough that it made the ornament very thin in that area. The fingers stayed quite thick which didn’t seem like a great idea for even baking. We re-did the worst of them. Tracing around the handprint with a knife was good in theory but the dough is sticky and the knife couldn’t make clean cuts. Much time was spent trying to reshape the fingers into something resembling fingers. Thirdly, I overestimated my daughter’s attention span and had to pull out the playdough toys to keep her busy.
Now that the ornaments have been made, baked, painted, sealed, and finished with a cute little Christmas ribbon I can admit that this project made me want to spork myself in the eyeball. A lot. Sure they’re cute. But so are lots of things that require much less work. Also, the paint and Mod-Podge softened the ornaments up so I can’t be sure they’re going to last beyond this Christmas. Bah Humbug!