Dough Crafts: the Art of Salt Dough

Even as crafting has gotten more sophisticated over the years, with the explosion in popularity of scrapbooking and papercrafting, it’s always nice to revisit an old craft, maybe even one that we did in grade school.  One such craft is salt dough art.  Like many people, I was first introduced to salt dough in grade school, when we used it to make Christmas ornaments.  After several decades of not playing with the stuff, about two years ago, I gave this long forgotten craft another look.  I was trying to make Christmas ornaments that looked like frosted sugar cookies.

Santa and snowman frosted cookie ornaments

Santa and snowman frosted cookie ornaments

I was able to make a few, but I had limited success scaling up, as I kept running into road blocks – problems baking them, varnishing them, and decorating them – so I put them on the back burner.  But my interest in dough crafts had been piqued, and I began looking for secondhand books on the subject, but didn’t find a whole lot out there. Although there are a lot of books available on the internet, like Amazon, I wanted to get my hands on actual books to peruse before purchasing.  It wasn’t until last weekend, when I was purchasing inventory for my online business at the annual rummage sale to end all rummage sales – the White Elephant Sale to benefit the Oakland Museum of California – that I found a book that really showcased the art of salt dough.

Dough Crafts by Isolde Kiskalt

Dough Crafts by Isolde Kiskalt

Dough Crafts by Isolde Kiskalt is an English translation of a book originally printed in Germany in the 1980’s.  It is obvious upon looking through the book, that Kiskalt has spent many years perfecting the craft of salt dough.  Her baking instructions are very thorough, more thorough than I’ve yet to see in any other book.  She also offers a lot of troubleshooting tips that will be helpful to me, as I ran into these very same problems with my ornaments.

While the book is lacking in actual instructions for the projects shown, it is nonetheless very inspirational, as it showcases the breadth of possiblity of crafting with salt dough, from figurines and dolls,

Circus animal figurines

Circus animal figurines

Dolls

Dolls

to ornaments,

Horse mold ornament

Horse mold ornament

to decorative plaques,

Nativity plaque

Nativity plaque

to a tray that can double as a game.

Alphabet tray

Alphabet tray

There is even fake food in the form of pretzels and breads.

Pretzel and breads

Pretzel and breads

This wreath is reminiscent of some of the decorative breads made for St Joseph’s feast in Sicily:

Fruit wreath

Fruit wreath

Decorative Sicilian Jesus bread.  Photo courtesy of Stevie's Artisans blogspot.

Decorative Sicilian Jesus’s bread. Photo courtesy of Stevie’s Artisans blogspot.

I have never seen salt dough art that is so intricate as this charming framed picture of a gnome knitting with a hedgehog:

Framed picture of a gnome

Framed picture of a gnome

Something to aspire to.  But first, I need to figure out my ornaments!

When was the last time you crafted with salt dough?  Are you tempted to pick it up again?  Please discuss in the comments.

Please note:  I have not been compensated in any way, nor will I be, for mentioning any of the products, organizations, and people in this post.  All comments and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose – to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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6 Responses to Dough Crafts: the Art of Salt Dough

  1. Hiromi March 10, 2014 at 3:47 am #

    Can I just make real (edible) cookies and use them as decorations? 🙂 Well, I guess I don’t want my dog jumping on my tree to get then…
    But it looks fun!

    • Serena Y Lee March 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      Yes, you could. A lot of people do that, but depending on the climate, they won’t last nearly as long as salt dough ornaments, as they are much more perishable. I have a friend whose cookie ornaments lasted 10 years, but they may attract bugs and vermin if you keep them that long. Definitely don’t eat them if you hang onto them that long!

  2. Elizabeth December 11, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    I just did my first ever batch of salt dough, and I’m in love with it!!! I have a now 2 year old granddaughter that’s brought all kinds of crafts to my mind, but this was a blast for both of us!!! I’m now going to find the book you sited. Tytyty for sharing it with us.

    • Serena Y Lee December 16, 2015 at 3:51 am #

      Hi, Elizabeth! So sorry for the tardy response. Glad to hear you and your granddaughter had fun with salt dough. I will admit, the book is short on instructions; I bought it for the inspiration. The pieces are for more advanced crafters and really showcase the “art” of salt dough. I hope you get even more inspired by seeing what others have done with this medium :0)

  3. Amy August 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Could you please share the recipe for the salt dough? Also i was wondering if its delicious as other breads?

    • Serena Y Lee August 9, 2016 at 12:41 am #

      Hi, Amy! So sorry for the tardy response, as I was having problems with my blog. But in answer to your question, salt dough is not meant to be eaten. It is used only for making ornaments and decorations. If you want to make some for crafting, the ingredients are 2 parts flour, 1 part salt, and 1 part water. Mix the flour and salt. Add in half the water, stirring to mix. Then gradually add in the remaining water, while continuing to mix. Mix until you get a dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, about 10 minutes.
      Have fun trying it out. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for dropping by!

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