Salt Dough Magic

Salt Dough Magic July 25, 2016

One of the activities commonly associated with Lammas is baking bread. I’m not much of a baker – as a matter of fact, I really don’t care for cooking. But I do like arts & crafts, so I have found an alternative to baking bread for Lammas that uses that Lammas essential, flour, and one which is easy to work in a little magic – making salt dough!

Salt dough “Holly King” Green Men fresh out of the oven. By author.

Salt dough is something that I know a lot of people associate with childhood – it’s a very easy, fun and safe craft activity for children of all ages. I’d never actually made it before as a child though, and only discovered it when I read this excellent article in Ozark Pagan Mamma’s blog all about crafting with salt dough. Since then, I’ve used salt dough several times for crafting things both for my path and my pleasure.

Salt dough: The basics

One of the wonderful things about salt dough is its simplicity. I bet you can go away and make it right now, this instant. You only need three ingredients to make it, ingredients which you probably have in your kitchen already:

  1. Flour
  2. Salt
  3. Water

(Ozark Pagan Mamma adds alum to hers, but it’s perfectly fine if you don’t).

Mix the flour, salt and water in a 2:2:1 ratio (it’s best to add the water a little bit at a time to make sure you get the consistency you want and to make sure the dough mixes together evenly. This will yield you a nice dough that’s very much like biscuit dough in texture (just don’t try eating it; it isn’t dangerous but doesn’t taste very nice. Believe me, I tried…).

Crafting tips

saltdough2You can then use your imagination to craft the dough however you like! I find that salt dough isn’t the best for very fine work – stick to simple designs and use a knife or cookie cutters to make shapes where you can. Salt dough seems to work better with flat shapes rather than solid ones, although you certainly can make solid, 3D things – my first salt dough creations were these little kodama (tree spirits) from the Miyazaki movie Princess Mononoke pictured here(these ended up decorating my Yule tree).

Once you’ve sculpted your dough, pop it in an oven at about 120°C until your creations are rock-hard, with no squishy bits remaining. Alternatively, you can air-dry your salt dough instead, which may take several days depending on the size of your piece.

Once completely dry, you can then paint your items (I use acrylic) and if you want to keep them long-term, give them a coat of varnish.

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