diy salt dough star fish {ornament}

It’s gettin’ hot in here.  Which isn’t good for these guys.

Well, to be honest, it’s always hot in here.  We are only 12 degrees from the equator here on this little island.  But it’s this time of year that gets pretty humid.  We call it rainy season, some of you others know it as winter.  ;)

I actually don’t mind the rain, it often brings down the temp and honestly, who needs sun every. single. day?

But, the down side is the humidity, you can just feel the moisture.  And it definitely took it’s toll on my salt dough starfish.

I actually didn’t take any pictures of the destruction in action.  I was just so irritated that my ornaments were literally swelling and falling off my tree.  Man that Christmas spirit can be fleeting.  :/

I got the salt dough starfish ornament idea from the Desperate Craft Wives who had made a starfish garland out of salt dough for a nautical inspired bedroom.  Didn’t theirs turn out so great.  Kinda makes all you coastal lovers want to try it, right?!?!  Super easy, 3 ingredients,  bake for a few hours and enjoy.

Not so fast.

1st – These are the temp options I have on our gas stove.
I went all the way to the – sign and the little suckers still looked like this after about 20 minutes.  Drats!
Take 2 – I baked for a very short period of time.  The ornaments didn’t burn, they weren’t 100% dry (clearly!), but I figured they’d do.  Wrong!  They weren’t really the right color so I painted each one, added a ribbon hanger and they were down right adorable on the tree. Just the right look for our little coastal Christmas tree.

Until the other night when I came home to one that had fallen and noticed the others all bloated.  Boo!  Now, I had bought the salt and white paint specifically for this ornament as part of the Mega Crafty Christmas Tree challenge and I’ll be darned if I’m going to spend money and have it not work out for me.

So, 3 strikes and I’m out – Well, I’m out of new ideas but luckily I think this third time around the ornaments will at least last until Christmas if I keep baking them for an additional 30 minutes every few days are keepers.  I used our trusty little toaster oven. Yep, it came here as part of our move essentials list and has proven over and over it is essential to us.  Mostly for garlic cheesy bread.  Yum!

I made a new set of the little bastards starfish.  I actually was able to make rounds 1, 2 and 3 all with the recipe of 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 3/4 – 1 cup of water.  After each round I wrapped the remaining dough in wax paper in a plastic bag and stored it in the fridge.  This final round I baked for about 2 1/2 hours on 225.  Nice and hard, but unfortunately yellow.
As you can see, my final shapes also changed a little bit along the way.  The upside to having 3 go rounds is that I got to perfect my technique a bit.  My personal salt dough starfish tips are:

  • Make a thicker, smaller in diameter ball of dough than you think you’ll need.  As you cut out the starfish shape and even out each leg (?) the starfish will thin out and expand without you really trying.  I wanted mine about 1.5 – 2 inches tall so my ball o’dough started at a little smaller than a quarter.
  • If your leg sections are unequal when you cut them, they will be unequal when your starfish shape is made.  If that’s not what you want trim them before you make your shape to avoid frustration after.
  • Add less water to the dough than you think.  My moisture issues have been clearly itemized.
  • Pointy leg ends and shallower veins and dots look more real in my opinion.  Check out the pics above compared to this 3rd round pics.
  • A knife worked best for me to make the veins and an uncooked piece of spaghetti worked great for the dots (?) and to make the hole for the hanger.

When all was said and done I decided to get a little more creative with my 3rd and final round.  I actually used a combination of beach sand, silver glitter and white and red paint to make these final starfish.

In the end, I love the look.  I probably won’t try something like this again unless we move to a drier climate, but I do recommend the project.  It’s cost effective and down right cute. I love the garland idea, and have recently seen all different size and shapes of salt dough ornaments out there.  Maybe not worth ALL the effort I had to put into it, but a great addition to our 2011 tree.

What do you think?  Any suggestions on how I could have avoided all my trouble?  Were they worth the effort?  Do you have any favorite salt dough shapes or uses?  Are you in the Christmas spirit yet?  Over all the Christmas ornament posts?  Looking forward to the new year?

I am sharing this project here, here, here and here. Check ém out!

Comments

  1. Kelley says

    Well, I can’t say that I have any ideas on how to make it better based on the climate, but I will say that they are super, super cute!!

  2. says

    Oh, I’m so sorry for all your trouble. I feel like we made dough ornaments one year, and we had problems too. Maybe it was after they had been in storage they went all funky? It’s definitely a craft that is very climate specific.:)

  3. says

    Well, you certainly persevered! I hope this last batch makes it through the holidays and even stores well for next year. All three batches look really sweet!

  4. says

    I love the idea- but don’t have any suggestions to make it last in the humid weather. I’ve only worked with salt dough once and I actually didn’t bake it I let it dry in the sun then painted it the color I wanted an sealed it. It was during the summer in New England which can get pretty humid… although probably nothing to your rainy season… and my project survived.

  5. says

    Sorry you have had so much frustration with this project. We had our honeymoon in Costa Rica and I remember how everything was just constantly damp from the humidity. Even so your starfish are really cute!

  6. Heather says

    Remind me to show you a picture of Travis’ birthday cake from first year in Bahamas….I too have been a victim of humidity.

  7. Catrina Sanchez says

    I just started working with salt dough, and I’ve fallen in love! Needless to say everyone received personalized ornaments for Christmas. :) I had the same problems as you, and many more, but I love the challenge of perfecting the project. I found a receipe that I personally love, where you dissolve 1 cup of salt in very hot tap water, then add the 2 cups of flour. This dough is very soft and smooth, perfect to work with. I also just tried cornstarch dough which for me was just terrible. Luckily I have 2 toddlers who love crafting with mom, is wrong that I give them the dough I can’t work with lol. I really like your egg carton idea and can’t wait to try it!

    • says

      LOL about giving the kids the dough you can’t work with! I hope you try the egg carton ornament, it’s super easy and then the kids could paint a few however they wanted. Fun for gifts, too!! Hope you’re having a great holiday season!!

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