Made from readily available, cheap ingredients, dough craft is so simple you'll be an expert in no time.
It's so easy to transform mere dough into art! Just mix and mould.
200g or 1 cup fine salt
200g or 2 cups white flour
125ml or 1 cup water at room temperature
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and knead vigorously to obtain a smooth, elastic dough. With practice you will vary the flour and water to achieve the right consistency.
The dough will improve by being left to rest in a cool place for a few hours.
Once prepared, the dough can be kept for up to a week if carefully wrapped in clingfilm but do not store in the fridge. If the dough has become too moist, add a little more flour before using.Modelling
There are no hard and fast rules on modelling, just allow your personal creativity free reign. Basic techniques include rolling ropes, making a twist, weaving dough and making figures. To attach one piece of dough to another, simply wet both surfaces. If you have heavy pieces, or wish to attach a shape at a difficult angle, use thin wire pushed through the dough.Glaze
Simply beat an egg with one tablespoon water and paint it on the dough before baking. Be sure not to glaze anything which you intend to paint later as paint will not take smoothly over glazed dough. Repeat every 20 minutes during the baking for a deeper darker shade of glaze.Tools
See what is lying around the kitchen: pastry cutters, garlic press, rolling pin, grater, toothpicks, sugarcraft scissors
Tip: always wash and dry utensils after each use as the salt in the dough encourages rust.
Baking and drying
It is very easy to burn the dough when it first goes in the oven. Long baking in a 100C oven is the best. Browning can be done at the end when the temperature should be raised to 180C but no higher. If the dough has been coloured it may be better to dry in the open air and not bake at all.
Tips: cover very exposed areas with foil to prevent over cooking and open the oven door every so often to allow moisture to escape.Painting and varnishing
You'll need, good-quality water-based paints, a palette (or old china plate), two or three decent brushes and some paper towel and cotton buds to mop up mistakes. The best paints are probably gouache or designers' colours followed by craft paints. Avoid acrylic paints which dry too fast and children's paint boxes are definitely not good enough!
Because of the high salt content, dough craft is very susceptible to damp. A good quality clear gloss, oil based, polyurethane varnish is best to seal your work. Being porous, the dough will take a generous coat (more than one will increase the yellowy look) so check for drips and runs before you leave it to dry. Make sure the piece is bone dry before applying a second coat.
Also shown above
Make a small wreath for the Christmas tree. This is modelled from a simple twist of dough 20cm in length. Arrange holly leaves and berries over the join in the dough and fit a hanging hook behind the leaves. Paint with glaze, avoiding the leaves and berries, then sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Bake at 145C for 1 1/2 hours. Paint the leaves and berries, varnish and add a bow.Sources:
Decorative Dough Joanna Jones (Merehurst)
Over 100 Salt Dough Projects Rosamunda Imoti (Merehurst)