Welcome to my first tutorial!
For the first time in 9 years of living together, Matt and I decided to get a Christmas tree... the only problem was that our collection of ornaments tallied up to a grand total of 4. We had 4 ornaments to decorate a 7 foot tree. Not a whole lot of math necessary to figure out that's not going to work.
I couldn't bring myself to go to store and load up on a bunch of generic balls and bobbles though. I didn't want our tree to be covered in things that didn't mean anything to us, and I didn't want to spend money on more stuff.
So, I decided to get crafty and make some ornaments from scratch... and we ended up making some cherished memories in the process (OK, I gagged a little on the cheesiness of that last sentence). Maybe I ought to get to the tutorial now!
What you'll need:
- dough (recipe below)
- ceramic cookie stamp (or cookie cutters, or anything else you want to use to get your shape- you could even roll out dough and cut shapes out by hand if you want. This tutorial uses a stamp though)
- skewer, straw, pencil or some other poking device
- cooking spray
- acrylic paints and brushes
- ribbon, string or ornament hangers
First step: Make the dough
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. If it is too wet and sticky, add more flour, if it is dry and cracking, add more water. *
* a little of each goes a long way, add slowly
[Live and learn- this was my first time making these, and I basically added more flour and water so many times that I think my final concoction was nowhere near the original recipe. I did not, however, add any more salt. I think my ornaments raised unevenly in the oven because of it. If I were to do them again, I would sprinkle more salt into the mix to keep the recipe balanced]
Step two: Make balls
Roll dough into balls, adjusting moisture of the dough if needed to make sure they don't have any big cracks. My cookie stamp worked best when the ball was about an inch across.
* Even with my dough the right consistency, I had trouble getting my stamp to come off clean. Lightly rolling the dough in flour helped (I ran out of all purpose and switch to whole wheat flour- hence the brown flecks in the photo)
Step three: Stamp it
Press your stamp firmly and evenly into the center of the ball. *
*This is the time you can get creative. We got bored of the stamp pattern, and started grabbing things around the house to press into the dough. Some worked out, some did not, but it was fun. I also did a few free hand with a pairing knife - hearts, stars, letters, my three kitties...
Step four: poke it
Use a skewer or other such device to make a hole where ever you wish to hang your ornament. *
* would be cool to make a garland and string them together by weaving one long ribbon through two holes in each ornament. Or, poke holes in the tops and bottoms of each ornament to hang them from one another for a wall or door decoration.
[Live and learn: If you are planning on using a string or ribbon of any significant thickness, make the hole bigger than you think you need to, because they close up a bit in the baking process.
Step five: bake 'em
Gently place ornaments on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You will know they are done when they are a consistent color, without soft spots. Let them dry overnight.
Step six: paint
This was the only thing we had to go out and buy. Each two ounce bottle of paint cost $.59 at Joann's, so we got about 6 different colors, that we mixed into a whole bunch of other shades.
* you may need a pretty fine tipped brush to get into little nooks and crannies
[Live and learn: darker colors are lost once you put the ornaments on the tree. The prettiest ornaments are the ones we painted with bright and metallic colors]
Step seven: finishing touches
Loop the ribbon or string of your choice through the hole, put on the tree, and sit back and admire!