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dough it right how to make salt dough ornaments by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3 4
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getting creative
Once you're ready to start shaping ornaments, you have a couple of options. The easy, no art skills required method is to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to form decorative shapes. For those who like to get a little more creative, however, there's also the freeform sculpting option; just treat the dough like clay, and mold the dough into whatever shape you like.

For both methods, it's best to pull out only a little dough at a time to work with, keeping the remaining dough covered. This is especially true if you're getting elaborately sculpty with your dough and laboring lovingly over each one; you don't want the dough to dry out before you get a chance to work with it. 

With the cookie cutter method, roll out the dough to the desired thickness -- I like ¼" or so, which is just thick enough to make the ornament nice and sturdy without turning it into a total lead weight. As you're rolling the dough, periodically lift and rotate the dough to make sure it's not sticking to the surface. Once it's rolled, use your cookie cutters to cut out whatever shapes you like. Transfer the cutouts to a foil-lined baking sheet. Now use a straw, chopstick or whatever other skinny implement you can find to poke a hole near the top of the ornament; this is very important, as it gives you a way to hang up the ornament once it's done. You can bake as is, and either leave plain or decorate with paint after the ornaments are baked. Alternatively, for a more 3D effect, try decorating the cookie with appliquéd bits of dough. For my Christmas tree ornament, for example, I rolled tiny little balls of dough to create ornaments; at each point on the tree where I wanted to place an ornament, I simply brushed on a little bit of water (this acts as a sort of glue), then gently pressed the ornament into place. I also used the straw to produce additional decorative holes in ornaments.

The sculpting method allows you even more freedom to exercise your artsy-fartsy instincts. As this method generally involves sticking together lots of little pieces of dough, it's best to assemble the ornament directly on the foil-lined baking sheet, to avoid the potential hassle of having to transfer a complex creation from counter to pan. It's also good to make sure the bottoms of the ornaments are dusted with some flour to keep them from sticking; when you press down the main "body" of each ornament (the base section upon which you'll build up the ornament), lightly flour the bottom. As with the cookie cutter ornaments, you can then use a little bit of water to "glue" on additional bits of dough. And as with the cookie cutter-style ornaments, don't forget to poke a hanging hole in each of your masterpieces.

don't stop: there's more this way!


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