salt dough hearts

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Top tips for making successful salt dough

Salt dough is great for creating all sorts of models and decorations.  It is cheap and easy to make and great fun for the children to play with.  You can make anything out of saltdough including Christmas decorations,curlicue decorations and even your own salt dough bunting

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This easy recipe and these top tips will help you get the most from your dough.

Tools

Before you start to make your dough make sure that you have all the tools that you are going to need handy.

Suggested tools include

  • Rolling pinsalt dough
  • Garlic press for making hair etc
  • Tooth picks
  • Batons for creating an even surface
  • A knife – a plastic one if you are working with children
  • Items for creating texture

Making your dough

Find your recipe – having tried various recipes this one seems to be the easiest.

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup of table salt
  • 1 cup of water

>> click here for full instructions

Texture – You can add lemon juice to make it a crisper texture or wallpaper paste to improve elasticity.  This is useful if you are making intricate designs and need to keep working with the dough.
Knead your dough – Kneading creates a smoother dough and helps to get rid of any air bubbles
Colouring – You can add food colouring during the making stage. Two or more food colours can be combined to make different colours and shades or for a marbled dough effect. This can be very effective, but do remember that it won’t necessarily give you the strength of colour you want and you may still want to paint your models when they are cooked.

Working with your dough

Making Salt DoughKeep kneading to get rid of those pesky air bubbles
Batons for rolling – you can use pieces of wood if you are want a nice even surface. Having a couple of thin pieces of wood can give you a template to roll across meaning that you can roll out a nice even piece of dough. Simply lay two pieces of thin wood parallel so that you can lay your rolling pin across them and place the dough between them.
Don’t let it dry out – If the dough is too dry, simply wet your hands and continue kneading. If it’s too moist, just dust your kneading surface with equal amounts of flour and salt until the dough has firmed up.

Cooking your dough

Greaseproof paper – line your baking trays with greaseproof paper, as this will stop your models sticking to the tray and make it easier to handle them.
Keep checking – Regularly check the dough to make sure that it’s cooking properly. Bear in mind that smaller items may take a shorter time to cook than larger items.
If you notice any air bubbles appearing during cooking, you can  pierce the bubbles with a pin and gently depress the dough. It can also help to turn over flat pieces halfway through cooking to avoid air bubbles forming.
Is it cooking too quickly? If the dough starts to cook too quickly and starts to split or darken before cooking is complete, you can cover your models with a piece of aluminium foil.
Is it cooked? You can usually tell if a model is cooked by tapping it with a knife. When dry it emits a clear, hollow sound.
Air-drying is suitable for flat, small pieces or for coloured pieces where baking will alter the colour of the finished project.

Decorating your dough

salt dough Sandpaper your model – before you start decorating, check that your model is smooth.  Use a fine sandpaper to rub down any rough edges etc. This will give you a nice smooth surface for painting.
Acrylic paints are great for creating a smooth finish and bright colours.  There are a range of colours and can be easily bought from an art shop or craft supplier.
Adding embellisment – because salt dough is cooked at such a slow temperature you can add other items to them before they are cooked.  Try adding pieces of glass, mirror or china to them to create an really interesting effect.
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Gilding wax – gilding wax is a great way of adding a little glamour to your models or creating an aged effect.  It is readily available from art shops and  is really easy to use

>> How to use gilding wax

Varnish – You can leave your finished model unpainted, but you will need to seal it with  a clear varnish to keep it dry and help it last longer.  Varnish comes in either matt or gloss depending the desired finished effect.

Storing your dough

Keep it airtight – You can store left over dough for up to a week in a fridge.  Either store it in a plastic container or a sealed plastic bag.  It is important that it’s sealed properly to stop air getting in.  If you leave the dough uncovererd it will dry out and you won’t be able to use it again.
Knead it - You will need to give the stored dough a good knead before use, to soften it up and make it flexible again.
Correct the texture – If it’s a bit dry add a small amount of water or if it’s too wet add more flour.

» How to make salt dough Christmas tree decorations


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There are 4 comments

  1. Posted by godders on November 4, 2011 at 5:18pm

    Does any one know if I can insert wire to the top part of my salt dough decoration (before drying) to make a hook for hanging on the tree? I thought this would be more professional than a hole? Thanks :)

  2. Posted by Hilary Bruffell on November 9, 2011 at 10:44am

    Yes you can use wire before the cooking stage, but just remember that the wire will be hot when you take it out of the oven. You just have to sandwich it in the mix before cooking. You might find though that you need to add a drop of glue once they have cooled off as they can loosen up and come free once they are cool.

  3. Posted by maestro20010 on December 21, 2011 at 3:18pm

    I would also consider forming your wire into an 'omega' type shape (think of the wires that are inside glass ornaments. Even if the dough loosens the shape of the wire will hold it fast.

  4. Posted by Gingerbread man party « Oatland kids on December 13, 2012 at 9:32pm

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