Want easy, homemade Christmas ornaments for the tree that anyone in the family can make? Try baker’s clay. Here is how to make baker’s clay to create old-fashioned decorations.
The tradition of decorating Christmas trees has been around for hundreds of years. Though originally associated with paganism and spurned as an unholy act by some, many trace its roots to 16th-century Germany where the tradition spread throughout the countryside and eventually abroad.
Easy Homemade Christmas Tree Ornaments
At first, families decorated trees with edible fruits, nuts, and cookies as well as homemade paper ornaments. Today, of course, most Christmas trees are adorned with store-bought decorations.
However, for those who want to recapture the beauty of this long-held tradition and decorate their tree with home-made Christmas ornaments, it is merely a matter of selecting the best artistic medium and encouraging family members to be creative.
The Advantages of Using Baker’s Clay
One of the best things about baker’s clay is that it is made from three inexpensive and easily obtainable household items: flour, salt, and water. However, there is a long list of other reasons besides affordability and ease that make using baker’s clay for holiday ornaments a great idea.
First, it’s easy to mix up and store. Because it can be baked or air dried, it needs to be kept in an airtight container until used. Next, since tradition says that the first ornaments were cookies and fruit, it’s simple to model ornaments after these traditional decorations or any other shape the designer likes.
The Recipe is Easy
Mix one cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup of salt and enough water that the dough is roughly the consistency of pie crust. That’s usually between one and two cups. Keep in mind that if the dough is too dry it will crack. And if it is too moist it won’t hold its shape.
Another great thing about baker’s clay is that while it’s very salty and should not be eaten if some happen to be accidentally digested it’s not toxic. And finally, it isn’t like a pie crust that needs to be handled gently to keep from getting tough. Baker’s clay can be kneaded and worked into whatever consistency the designer likes over and over again.
How to Make Baker’s Clay Ornaments
Start by making the dough and then roll it out to 1/4″ to 1/2″ in thickness on a floured board. Keep in mind the more baker’s clay that is used in each ornament, the heavier it becomes.
One Additional Suggestion
Moving the ornaments before they are dry can be difficult and cause them to fall apart or lose shape. So mold them on a moveable surface (like a cookie sheet) where they can be placed in the oven to bake or left to air dry out of the way.
Air drying can take anywhere from a few days to a week depending on the thickness and size of the piece. For baking, set the oven at 200 to 250 degrees and bake until rock hard. Figure about half an hour per 1/4″ thickness. Be sure to poke small holes into the dough to keep it from looking like puff pastry and watch carefully for browning.
There are dozens of ways to actually create baker’s clay ornaments. Use cookie cutters and other household objects to cut shapes or mold objects by hand. Design patterns into the dough using a fork, toothpick or other household items. Push the dough through a garlic press to create hair for figurines and animals. Embed small trinkets or buttons available at craft stores into the ornament and let it air dry.
One Last Step that Designers Cannot Forget
Make sure to carve out a small hole at the top of the ornament or use a jewelry eye pin and push the shaft into the top of the ornament before allowing the ornament to dry. Then it is easy enough to use an ornament hook or ribbon to hang it on the tree.
The final step is after the ornaments have completely air dried or cooled from baking. Add some paint or tack on buttons, ribbons, glitter or whatever is available. And if there are any rough edges that need to be smoothed, an emery board or soft sandpaper can gently clean them up.
And to preserve them throughout the years and give the ornaments a shiny gloss consider spraying the final product with a non-yellowing, gloss sealer. That is a how to make baker’s clay for Christmas tree ornaments.
Remember it’s all about personal taste and being creative when making homemade baker’s clay Christmas ornaments.