Friday, August 17, 2012

lions and lambs ornaments

Years ago I made Christmas ornaments from salt dough. They lasted for about 10 years before the shellac broke down enough for weevils to get them. I decided to make some more for my YOE tree. The process is easy enough for children and a great project to do together.

*Salt dough

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

Mix salt and flour together. Add water a little at a time, you may not need the whole cup. You don't want it sticky so go slowly. Mix all ingredients together until a ball forms, then knead the ball of dough about 10 minutes until it is nice and smooth.

*I cut the recipe in half and still made 14 ornaments!

To make these ornaments, you'll need toothpicks, a flat edge, a skewer, a garlic press and a parchment lined cookie sheet. You will also need skinny ribbon, shellac, newspaper to catch drips, wire to hang the ornaments to dry, or possibly a paint brush.

Here is how to get started:

First pinch off a small amount of dough and roll into a ball. Mine is the size of a large marble.

Then flatten the dough into a squarish oval shape

For the head, make a smaller squarish oval shape and use a teeny ball for the ear.

To shape the nose, take the flat edge and carefully flatten the front of the face down at an angle. Sheep have little roman noses and this will help create that shape.
Flatten the ear leaving the bottom thin while making the top a bit wider.

Then use a toothpick and make a small poke for the eye and a small dash for the nostril.

The legs are oblong balls carefully tamped down between your index fingers and thumbs so that one end is slightly flat while the other is slightly pointy, like a hoof. If you look closely, you can see that the pointy end is thicker.

Position them at the bottom of the body. I make some walk, some run, etc.

Now start to add fleece:
Using the garlic press, put a ball of dough and slowly squeeze it out. (If your dough is too soft, it won't hold the shape.)
Using the toothpick as a tool, shave off bits of the dough at a time. Hold the toothpick close to the sheep's body to do this. You can put it on the body randomly.

For the fleece over the face, make shorter fleece and pull it off the press with a toothpick at an angle, sort of dragging it along the top of the face.
It should be about this length:

Once done, take your skewer and make a hole in the body of the sheep. ***This hole will SHRINK when baked so make sure it goes all the way through the dough.

If you make lions, the process is basically the same EXCEPT for the mane. You want the blunt (cut) edge of the mane against the face so you have to work the mane off the toothpick more carefully than with the fleece. Its a bit more fiddly but once you get the hang of it, it goes quickly. Don't forget the little tuft on his tail!

Bake at 200 degrees until hard as a rock. I usually check every 20 minutes. I cook mine at night and when going to bed, turn off the oven but leave them in it overnight. To check , flip over and press, if the back gives AT ALL, they are not done.

Once baked, make little wires for them. Dunk each ornament into your shellac (polyurethane) and let dry overnight.
Repeat at least once. I do it this way because I'm lazy. You can always use a sponge or paint brush.

***if your hole shrinks, carefully use a nail to break through the dough. Don't try and force a large hole, it will crack. The hole will be teensy so you will need to use a beading needle to get your ribbon to go through.

Once fully dry, run a ribbon through them and hang on the tree!

"Only in art will the lion lie down with the lamb..."
-Martin Amis


Kerry said...

So cute - I'm going to give these a try. I remember making them in art class back in primary school ........ wow, that was a long time ago :-)

Debbie M said...

you have so many talents! love your lion and lambs

Courtney Lyons said...

Oh, cute - my boys will like these. Thanks for sending the link along!

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