You have a simple artistic medium right in your pantry. All you need is flour, salt and water to create inexpensive, fast-drying sculpting clay.
There are literally hundreds of variations on the salt-clay theme, some with additional ingredients such as alum and cornstarch [source: Cooks]. You can experiment with proportions and additives to find the consistency and maneuverability that suits you. What most salt-clay recipes have in common is that you can dry them in the sun or in your oven.
Clear a workspace in your kitchen, and mix flour, salt and water in a mixing bowl. Spread aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Sculpt the dough into wreaths, stars or any other holiday shapes you like. Make your sculptures on the foil; this way, you can easily transport them to the oven without destroying the shapes.
You can build color into the sculpting process. Separate the dough into smaller bowls, and add a different food coloring to each bowl. For intense colors, you will need more pigment than you are accustomed to using for baking. Before the dough hardens, you can press glitter and other small decorations into its surface.
Don't forget to make a hole for the hanger. It's much easier to do this before the dough dries. Use a small drinking straw to punch an even hole through the top.
If you don't mix color into the dough, you can use acrylic paints to decorate your creation after it's come out of the oven. Metallic paints and metal leaf can add reflectivity and richness. Let the paint dry thoroughly.
Whether you painted your dough or dyed it with food coloring, you'll need to seal it with a strong layer of varnish. Several coats of spray polyurethane will also do the job. Just make sure the seal is solid. You don't want your ornaments to attract bugs. Properly sealed, a salt-clay ornament will last for years.
This year, start your own tradition.
To learn more, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Links
- Barbour, Anita. "Anita's Origami." Nature Walk. 2002. (Accessed 4/23/09) http://spiraclemusic.com/webwalk/origami.htm
- Betzina, Sandra. "Sewn Christmas Ornaments." DIY Network. (Accessed 4/23/09) http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/hd_christmas/article/0,,diy_13889_2269673,00.html
- Cooks.com. "Salt Clay Recipes." (Accessed 4/23/09) http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,salt_clay,FF.html
- eSSORTMENT. Make an Origami Christmas Ornament. eSSORTMENT: Do It Yourself: Crafts. (Accessed 4/23/09)
- HGTV. "Quilted Fabric Ball Ornaments." My HGTV. (Accessed 4/23/09) http://my.hgtv.com/share-my-craft/Gift-Ideas/Quilted-Fabric-Ornament/detail.esi?oid=6661420
- Hanson, Terry. "Microwave Salt Dough Ornaments." All Free Crafts. (Accessed 4/23/2009) http://www.allfreecrafts.com/christmas/salt-dough-ornaments.shtml
- Make Stuff. "Quilted Ball Ornament." (Accessed 4/23/09) http://www.make-stuff.com/projects/quiltball.html
- Making Friends. "What Can I Make Out of All Those AOL CDs That Are Sent to Me in the Mail?" Making Friends: Changing the World One Craft at a Time. February 18, 2007. (Accessed 4/23/09) http://www.makingfriends.com/readers_cds.htm
- MetaCafe. "3D Paper Star: Video." (Accessed 4/23/09) http://www.metacafe.com/watch/292936/3d_paper_star/
- Paxton, Rachel. "Recycling Christmas Cards. Staiden Home School. (Accessed 4/23/2009). http://www.staidenshomeschool.com/files/new_ways_to_use_old_xmas_cards.pdf
- Ralph, LeAnn R. "New Ways to Use Old Christmas Cards." Staiden Home school. (Accessed 4/23/2009) http://www.staidenshomeschool.com/files/new_ways_to_use_old_xmas_cards.pdf
Are you looking for some fun recycled craft ideas? Check out these 10 recycled craft ideas in this article.