Salt Dough Crafts

Monday night, the holiday of Sukkot (pronounced: sue-coat) begins. It’s a harvest festival and my very favorite Jewish holiday – mainly because it’s outside when the weather is nice, it lasts a week, and since it’s more than one day, it’s an excellent reason to have multiple parties. This year we are going *all out* with a certain theme and I think it is going to turn out to be hilarious!

I’ll explain a little more about Sukkot this coming week when I post pics of our sukkah.

Well, anyway, as with most any religious holiday you really want to make it big for children. Shug is almost but not quite old enough to help me paint and craft (I know next year we will be all into it) but I decided to make a yearly tradition of making a mold of his handprint with salt dough to hang in the sukkah. Salt dough is great because you can do anything with it. ANYthing. And this is a perfect child craft for any holiday, or any or no reason at all!

Update to this post (10/23/2008): Jennifer in Texas emailed to say that if you add cinnamon to your dough, it will make the ornament/whatever smell heavenly *plus* if you’re doing these for, say, Christmas and you make Gingerbread men the dough will come out the appropriate color brown too! How smart is that? I would have never thought of that in a million years…

4 cups flour
1 cup regular Morton’s table salt
1-1/2 cup warm water

You may also want to have:
Rolling pin for making the dough an even thickness – I just pat mine out by hand though
Floured board for rolling out dough
Pencil to make a hole for hanging
Cookie cutters to make different shapes
Paints and brushes to decorate the piece
Sharpie for signing the piece with
Fishing line or ribbon to hang the finished piece with
Weatherproofing spray so it will last if you keep it outdoors

Preheat the oven to 325* OR have a plate ready to cook these in the microwave – if you read everything below first you can decide which method is best for what you’re doing.

In the Kitchenaid, I mixed together the flour and salt:

…added the warm water, and let it knead on low speed for about ten minutes:

I pulled off from the dough an amount to make Shug’s hand impression. The dough needs to be pretty thick – I didn’t measure it, but it’s like gingerbread in that if you make it too thin it will crack. I’d say plan on at least 3/4″:

Av brought Shug in and he pressed his little hand into the dough – this needs to be pretty deep. If you plan on hanging this somewhere, use a pencil and make a hole in the top before baking:

If you make a mold of something, like a handprint, definitely bake this in the oven on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet at 325* rather than going the microwave method, because you don’t want it to rise or puff up. This one took about 45 minutes to be completely hard in the oven. If you are making something small and thinner, it may only take 15-20 minutes, but you definitely want to make sure it is hard-hard-hard before you take it out. After I painted Shug’s handprint, I put his name and date on the back with a Sharpie.

I took some more dough and made other things by using cookie cutters. For these I used the microwave method – I put them on a microwave-safe plate and cooked for 2 minutes on high:

When they come out of the microwave, they should be completely hard (microwave longer if they’re not) and they will be super-hot so be careful. With the microwave method, the side that is “up” will puff up some:

…but the bottom side will be perfectly flat:

I made some butterflies to hang in the sukkah – just painted them with regular acrylic folk art paint. I’ll be using that hole in the middle to secure some fishing line to them and hang them up in the sukkah.

Make sure if they are going to be used outside and there’s any chance that they might get wet that they get sprayed liberally with weatherproofing spray. Can’t wait for next year so Shug can be shaping and decorating his own things to hang!

If there is any salt dough left, you can put it in a Ziploc in the refrigerator but since it will become more and more dry, try to use it within a day or two.

Here’s the butterfly, hung with some clear line:

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