Home-made Christmas tree ornament post title goes here
January 14, 2011 4:15 AM   Subscribe

How do you make Christmas tree ornaments out of homemade Play-Doh?

Looking for actual recipes you've used -- I get a little overwhelmed Googling this. I have a toddler who needs to be entertained this afternoon. Also I need to be entertained this afternoon.

We're making them for next year, although given the way 2011 is going we may just leave the tree up and use it again next Christmas.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would worry that playdough would crack and crumble once dry. I was thinking you should use masapan instead. This is dough made from bread (actual bread once it's cooked. Fresh, not stale) and is often used to make Christmas ornaments. I have a tonne of masapan Chrstimas ornaments, many bought in Calderon. Oddly, I had no idea that this was a craft unique to Ecuador and I'm kind of doubting wikipedia on this one. I'm sure I've seen masapan from other Latin American countries.

Anyway, here's a lesson plan that includes a recipe.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:43 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think what you're looking for is "salt dough." Here's a recipe from a blog I follow.
posted by radioamy at 6:55 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

(from mrs. DM, who does crafts)

There are three main types of homemade craft dough that harden so that you can keep the things you make. The recipe dflemingecon links to is often called salt dough, and the masapan that if only i had a penguin links to is called cold porcelain. (BTW I penguin I think you are right about masapan; it is very popular in other South American countries, especially Argentina.) There's a third type that is made with cornstarch and baking soda - here's a recipe, and an Instructables tutorial. If you need more info on any of those dough types, try searching those terms. All of these doughs shrink by 10-20% when dry, and all are nontoxic (excluding whatever coloring material you use). All doughs can be kept moist and workable in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator for a few days, and all will eventually turn moldy and nasty if not dried, unless you add a preservative like formaldehyde in them, which you probably don't want to.

Characteristics of each

- Salt dough can be baked to harden, which speeds up the process. You can have your creations all done this afternoon. You may already have all the ingredients - salt, flour, water. You can mix colors into the dough or paint it when dry with acrylic paint. Salt dough has the coarsest texture and most rustic finish - it will look like hard bread, which it is, actually. It is not suited for very fine detail work, but is great for kids.

- Cold porcelain or masapan will produce objects with the finest finish - it's called cold porcelain for a reason. It's used a lot for making finely detailed miniatures and artificial flowers. It does take a long time to dry, and cannot be oven baked. The dough has glue and (usually) glycerin in it, so if the kids are likely to put the dough in their mouths it may not be suitable. Best colored by mixing paint into the dough. This one is best suited to making very small, detailed objects. See this as an example.

- Cornstarch and baking soda clay is very soft and pleasant to work with, the one most like commercial Play Doh. Can be colored or painted afterwards. Has a nice smooth, matte finish. Takes time to air dry (up to a week), and must be sealed completely with a clear lacquer, otherwise it may soften in humid weather and crumble away.

In sum, for toddlers, I'd recommend going with salt dough.
posted by derMax at 7:13 AM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used the salt dough recipe linked to here, in this Crafty Crow post with a kindergarten class, and it worked as well as any other's I've used -- other types of ornaments are also linked to, as I'm sure you'll have other afternoons to fill with projects, right? They're now my go-to craft site for crafts, since there are so many categories to search under - it keeps me from being overwhelmed by teh internets.
posted by peagood at 7:20 AM on January 14, 2011

nthing salt dough - I still have a few ornaments I made 30+ years ago out of salt dough. Also recommending the crafty crow site for toddler activity ideas.
posted by rosebengal at 11:51 AM on January 14, 2011

These are excellent answers. Thank you everyone. I was indeed looking for salt dough, and I appreciated the other craftsy directions and I'm sure I'll revisit the thread for more ideas.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:13 PM on January 14, 2011

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