A couple of years ago, I purchased a little yarn-wrapped tree from Target. The ends of each branch are a bright colour, making me think of Easter. I hadn’t found the perfect items to hang on the tree until now: Easter baking soda dough ornaments. Miss O enjoys painting but I’m notorious for disliking mess. Now that she’s 3.5 years old, she’s a little more trustworthy with a paintbrush. These ornaments were the perfect craft for a Sunday afternoon while Little J napped. I made the ornaments the day before so they were ready to go for a little bit of family painting time on Sunday afternoon. Hubby, Miss O and myself spent a wonderful hour just sitting at the kitchen table, painting away.
Traditionally, many people use salt dough to make these ornaments. Alas, that recipe requires a lot of salt and I didn’t have much left. I wanted to find an alternative using items I already had in my kitchen. I found a number of recipes for something called baking soda dough which was new to me. It comes out much whiter, like porcelain, than the traditional salt dough. It requires cooking over the stove and baking in the oven. If you’re worried that the dough will ruin your pots, don’t be. I was terrified that I would mess it up and it would become a disastrous sticky mess that would destroy my new pots but it couldn’t have been easier to clean – water took the little bit of residue right off!
These ornaments will take some time to make so definitely plan ahead. If it’s shaping up to be a rainy weekend, this is a great two-day activity with your toddler, preschooler or bigger kid. They can help you make the ornaments by measuring, mixing and even cooking the dough. They can roll it out, use the cookie cutters and place them on the cookie sheet. Day two can be spent painting away! We used a few different easter cookie cutters for our shapes: carrot, flower, bunny and two different size of eggs.
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch
3/4 cup water
- Combine the 3 ingredients in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Keep stirring the mixture until it starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes. Once it starts to resemble mashed potatoes, remove the pot from the heat. You’ll need to form it into a ball and place into a glass bowl. Cover with a damp cloth while it cools to keep it moist.
- Once cooled, you’ll need to roll it out so you can cut out your shapes. I suggest putting a piece of wax paper on to the counter, shiny side up. I taped the corners down to keep in place. The wax paper keeps it from sticking to the counter and also makes it easier to clean up. You can also just put a layer of corn starch down on the counter or a cutting board. Pat the dough down a bit and put a layer of corn starch onto your rolling pin and the top of the dough. Roll out to about 1/4″ thick.
- Cut out your shapes. You can take the excess, form a ball and roll it out again to make more shapes. I got about 8 shapes from the dough. Use a straw or similar item to poke a hole near the top of each ornament so you can feed a string through it once they’re done.
- Put your oven onto low heat, about 175°F. Use a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Put your shapes onto the cookie sheet and place in the oven. They will need to dry out in the oven for at least an hour. I flipped them over every now and then so they would bake flat. Keep checking on them – once they are no longer spongy to the touch, take them out and let them cool.
- When you are ready to paint, simply use some fine paint brushes and acrylic paint. I bought mine from dollar store in a variety of shades. You can always add white to the colours to make them into Easter pastels. These ornaments don’t require a lot of paint and they dry quickly. If you paint a few ornaments, the first one will be dry by the time you are done so you can flip it and paint the other side.
- If you want to seal the paint, you can use Mod Podge or a spray sealant. Once complete, put a piece of string through the hole, knot it and hang your ornaments!