Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bread Dough Ornaments Wise guys and children

It's funny how bread comes up in different ways on Bread on the Water.
I didn't think about it until I was typing in this title. I made most of these flour and salt bread dough ornaments over 20 years ago.

The ones on the top line were made by little hands.
The little people are about 1.5 inches tall and have holes in their hands where I wind little gold wires as jump ropes from which to hang them.
We won't be putting up a tree this year but I pulled these out to photograph and share them and post a recipe for how they were made. Scanning recipes on the web I noticed a lot of variation in the directions, so I wrote out my own. I learned this craft many years ago from a student at the art school in Oakland.

Here are some of my wise men...wise guys as we would sometimes joke while we painted them...Wise ones do still seek Him.
Bread Dough for Baked Ornaments

2 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1 cup water

1. Mix the salt and flour and gradually add the water.
2. Knead these ingredients together 5-7 minutes.
Food preparer’s gloves or nitrile gloves will protect your hands from the drying salt.
If you aren’t going to use the dough right away,
store it in plastic or glass to keep it from air-drying.

After you cut or sculpt the shapes you want, place them carefully on a baking pan that won’t rust or an old one you don’t care about. Or line your pan with tinfoil. If you have trouble maintaining shape while transferring to the pan, consider sculpting them right on the pan.
IMPORTANT: You must plan how they are to hang before you bake.
Either insert a hook into a sturdy part of the top of the design or make holes in which you can later insert string or wire.

There are two successful Baking styles.
The idea is to harden them thoroughly without burning them.
You only want them to get light golden.
Thin pieces in a 300-degree oven take no more than 30 minutes.
An ornament that is ½” to 1 “ thick is going to take an hour to bake at 300 degrees.
Lower temp baking takes longer.
The other baking method is a 200-degree oven for several hours.

Painting and Decorating and Storing
Cool before painting. I have ornaments I have had for more than 30 years. You must bake them properly if you want to save them for future enjoyment. You can’t tell if they are baked hard until they are cool. If you paint and think one needs a little more baking, that’s fine as long as you have only used non-toxic water based paints.

Once you add a spray sealant, anything mineral or polymer based, do not put them in the oven. Remember to be careful with chemicals around children, pets and your own precious self. Do the finishing spray outside, in a garage or next to an open window. Read directions and cautions on all products you choose to use.

STORE in a metal Cookie box or air tight plastic.
Protect the ornaments from the can and each other with bubble wrap or some soft layers that won’t wick moisture. You can enjoy them for years.

That’s it! Have fun.

The Bavarian boy was painted by Dad one night as we all sat around the table.
I recently got these out to show to some friends and heard from them about ornaments that had been saved only to find them spoiled. I can't emphasize enough proper storage. I'm not sure that things will slow down enough to enjoy such a relaxing and playful evening such as this anytime soon...but you never know! I would love to make some more.


Sarah Beth said...

i always loved your wise guys especially!

Neal said...

What a great way to personalize your Christmas .. Cheers and a Merry Christmas to you and yours..

Abounding Treasures said...

What special treasures to cherish ~ thanks for much for your sweet comment on my blog and all the best for the New Year to you and your family :o)

Blessings ...