Yesterday was Earth Day and to celebrate we turned our daily walk into a nature scavenger hunt. Did you know that Earth Day celebrated its 50th anniversary this year? It was first recognized back in 1970. When I shared our pressed nature ornaments craft last night on my Instagram page, it was a big hit! So I thought I’d put together a quick how-to.
On that previously mentioned walk, we looked for colorful flowers, clovers and anything else that looked neat. I carefully placed our finds in the stroller and we laid them out on the kitchen counter once we got home. After lunch, we whipped up a quick batch of salt dough. We first tried our hand at salt dough ornaments a couple of weeks ago when I planned a Christmas themed day for my girls. We made different shaped ornaments to paint and put on the little tree that I set up in our family room. (I am still putting that blog post together but will link it here once it goes live this weekend.) Because I knew I didn’t want to have too many ornaments this time, I halved the recipe; however, I will give you the full recipe below and you can decide how much you want to make. When I halved the dough, it made about 5 three inch discs.
Salt Dough Recipe + Instructions
Cookie Cutter or a Glass
Straw or Toothpick
Sealant Spray and Craft Glue, optional
Twine, Wire or Ribbon
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and then knead on the counter for a smoother dough. Roll out dough to 1/4″ inch and cut out shapes. (I recommend rolling out on a small piece of parchment paper — explanation below.) Getting the dough thickness right is key, otherwise the dough will bubble up in the middle if too thick. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Salt dough can stick to your works surface, so spread a little extra flour to help with this. Once on the baking sheet, press your leaves and flowers into the dough (additional tips below) and use the straw or toothpick to make a hole or two in each shape. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours.
I’ve found that I have a really hard time getting the cut shape onto a spatula without scrunching up the shape no matter what type of surface I’m working on and no matter how much flour I cover it in. This time (halfway through the process) I tried rolling the dough on a small piece of parchment paper. Once the shape had been pressed and we pulled away the excess dough, I carefully picked up the parchment paper, peeled it off allowing it to loosely fall into my open hand and then transferred it to my parchment paper lined cookie sheet. This worked great and the last 3 of my discs were perfect! You’ll also see in this picture that there are tears in the parchment paper, this is so the paper would lay flat with the weight of the dough ornament so that it didn’t dry in the oven with a slight lift on the edges. You can avoid this too may cutting your parchment paper to fit your baking sheet exactly or using one without a rim.
Once I was happy with my discs, I looked at the flowers and leaves we had and we figured out how we wanted to display them on the dough. This required some snipping and trimming for things to fit and then we carefully placed the items on the dough. We then lightly patted the items into the dough. Be sure not to press too hard or your dough will become very uneven and show evidence of your finger and/or fingerprints.
Once you are finished with placements and pressing, don’t forget to put holes in them prior to going in the oven! For our Christmas ornaments, I used a straw to make uniform holes, but this time I knew I wanted smaller, discreet holes so I used a toothpick. I carefully picked my location, stuck it through the dough and slowly made small circular motions until it was the desired size. When making your holes, keep in mind what hanging material you want to use, whether twine, wire or something similar. I used twine and a few of my holes were challenging to get it through but I persevered.
After the 2 hours in the oven, let them cool on your counter. Some of the colors do fade from the heat. The red plant looks almost the same as it did when it first went into the oven and the greens and yellows stayed fairly vibrant but the purple flowers almost completely lost their color. Once cool, you can spray with a sealant like an acrylic gloss or just leave them as is. I ended up not spraying them this time but I did touch up a few areas with craft glue where a couple of the items shrunk or popped up slightly while in the oven. I then threaded my twine through the holes and found a home for it in my kitchen. Voila!
If you make these, be sure to tag me on Instagram @multiplyingmichie! I would love to see them!
Comment below if you have any questions!
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