Monday, December 3, 2012

Clay Christmas Decorations

With this year's theme being white, and not having as many white ball ornaments as I wanted, I thought it would be a good idea to make cornstarch and baking soda ornaments. I had made the flour dough ornaments in the past and I did not like the way they came out. They were not smooth or even, and even with paint I wasn't very happy with them. When I saw some made with cornstarch on Pinterest (here's the pin) I thought that these would turn out better. I was hoping for smooth and shiny. That's not quite how they ended up.

Here are the instructions I got from the woodside kitchen blog. (My additions are in gray.)

1/2 cup cornstarch (1 cup)
1 cup baking soda (2 cups)
3/4 cup water (1 1/2 cups)
(The instructions said the recipe could be doubled, so that's what I did. Doubled measurements are in gray.)

Making Clay

In a medium sized pot combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and water. With an adults help the kids can stir this mixture over medium-low heat. After a couple of minutes, the mixture will begin to thicken. (This took longer than 10 minutes for me. I started at medium-low and kept having to up the temperature until it was medium. It also did not start to thicken until it was bubbling.) When it looks like smooth, mashed potatoes, remove the pot from the heat. Spoon the ball of dough into a bowl and cover it with a damp cloth until it's cool. When it's cool, knead it on a smooth surface, adding a little more cornstarch if it feels sticky.

Rolling, cutting, and baking
Dough on the wax paper

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. (Replace the parchment paper for each batch. Wax paper does not work well.) Roll out clay to 1/4 inch thick on a surface lightly dusted with cornstarch. (I found that rolling the dough on wax paper sprinkled with the cornstarch and folding the wax paper over the top as well made somewhat smoother ornaments that were easier to get up than on the counter.) Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Transfer shapes to the prepared baking sheet. Use a straw to poke a hole in the center top of each decoration, then get the kids to blow out the small piece of clay. They love this task! Place them in the oven at 175 degrees for about an hour, turning them over halfway through cooking. (50 minuets worked best for me.)

I tried adding indented details on a few
After baking and double glazing

When they didn't turn out shiny, I tried glazing them with 2 parts white glue to 1 part water. (I got that from SOTW AG:1) but it didn't seem to look very different. Not even when I did an extra coat after the first coat dried. I was really hoping for something that reflect the light, even just a little bit, but that was not the case. The plain white paint that I have did not achieve that effect either.

Overall it adds very little to my tree behind the snowflakes, even with a double batch. It made enough for 3 batches (I have a small oven) which meant it took 4 hours between making, cooling, rolling and cutting, and baking time. But Builder Boy had fun helping me make them. That made it worth it. But I probably won't make these again unless the kids want something to make and paint. Food coloring can be added to the dough when you're cooking it if you want to color the batch.

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