The following craft is neither new nor particularly innovative, but it is a classic and something that some people find to be surprisingly hard. It is beloved by Grandparents and is hidden at the back of many a classy tree because the idea of throwing it away or intentionally smashing it is simple not an option. It is the handprint tree ornament!
The principle here is very simple but even a quick google search proves that there are as many recipes for salt dough as there are for ways to bake these creations. I started off by using equal parts flour to salt and then when I didn’t think it was coming together, I doubled the flour (recipe below). I have to say that the dough was really nice. It took a couple of minutes of kneading but came together into a soft and play-dough like mass that was easy to take the handprint.
As easy as this craft is, there are a few tips that should be considered.
Texture of the dough –
You really want to make sure that you get the texture right but adding water of flour where needed. The dough should not be in the least bit sticky and should feel like the play-dough that you used to eat as a kid (don’t even try to deny that one). It should also be firm enough that it takes the squirmy child’s handprint, preserving the lines and joints of the hands, but soft enough that you don’t have to break any little fingers as your jam the hand into the dough (you will see what I mean when it comes to the hand stamping part). The key is to play around with it until it is just right.
The Little Hand –
It took me a few tried to get the little hand printed. Children do not like to hold their hands open unless intending to receive something and so speed is the way to go. I had the dough rolled and disks pre-cut so that all I had to do was summon the child and my assistant, distract the child with a funny face, grab the hand in question, peel the little fingers open and quickly press it into the dough before the child knew what was happening. If it messes up, roll it out again, no problem! As for the furry children in the house, I just went for it and rewarded with a biscuit after. Infinitely easier than the two legged child.
Mine did not take the 2-3 hours on 200 degrees that the internet told me that they would. They took nearly 5! I made them a little thick and wanted to make sure that they would really good and dry so that they will keep forever (insert aww…. here ).
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3-4 cup of water or so
Mix the flour and the salt in a bowl and slowly add the water to bring it together into a dough. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes to the point where it is smooth, pliable and not sticky. You then make the imprint and bake at 200 degrees for 4-5 hours or until dry. If they are thicker, they will take longer if not, then it might only take a couple of hours.
Once finished, they are hard and ready to go. I jazzed them up with some paint and a little string (make sure to make the hole before baking). I found that paint with a little sparkle in it works really well because it picks up on the texture of the handprint and highlights it. Make sure that you also find a get or paint pen in a coordinating colour and write the date and/or some kind of inspirational rubbish on the back. It might seem cheesy now but the older crowd will eat it up and when you too are grey and reminiscing about holidays past, you will be glad that you did.
Holiday Handprints and a Hanukkah Handprint, ready for postage and a memory preserved in glitter for years to come!