Sunday, September 16, 2012

Christmas in September - Corn starch and Baking Soda Ornaments

I have tried salt dough with my kids in the past and although they loved it, I never loved the end result. It seemed to take forever for the dough to dry in the oven, microwave and/or on the counter and I found the color was never really nice. 
I have longed for a pure white ornament that could be used as gift tags. So when I found this recipe online (I got the final version I used on cooks.com) I was really excited. 
I was excited that I had all the ingredients on hand (who doesn't have corn starch and baking soda in their pantry?) and I love that this recipe produced a beautiful pure white dough that seems to have a shimmer. I am not sure which ingredient does it, but when the uncooked dough is in the light it sparkles. I will try this recipe again and add some white glitter to see how it works..I will let you know how that goes.

I tested out two different ways of hardening this recipe, air dry overnight and baking. I have to say I far preferred the results of the air dry. I liked the the kids could have the ornaments within 30 minutes with the baking, but the final result was a a little yellow and the shimmer was lost. So I highly recommend being prepared for an overnight dry time if you want amazing results.
The candy cane was air dried and the bell was baked. It is hard to see, but the candy cane is much whiter.  A funny thing is, I didn't notice until now that we put the hole on the wrong side of the candy cane..so when I went to hang it on the tree to photograph it was a 'J'.

Full batch recipe:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups cool water
I only did 1/4 of this recipe as a test to see how it worked. I had intended to make another batch with fancy ornaments and gift tags to post it here on Full of Great Ideas, but I absolutely loved this craft and wanted to share it with you right away. You never know, some of you might be bored on a Sunday afternoon and wanted to do something with your kids.

Method:

Mix cornstarch and baking soda in a pot.
Add water to the powder mixture. It will seem like the water sits on top, but after a little stirring in mixes all together into a runny mix.
Place the pot on a stove over medium heat. 
Be sure to stir the mixture constantly.
Once it thickens (you will know when it is done..it becomes a ball), turn into a bowl.
Cover with a damp paper towel and let cool. 
This is an important step. Don't be impatient like me and try to kneed it with your hands when it is piping hot! I try to teach my children to wait and be patient, but I can't seem to follow my own advice. If you are like me and decide to burn your hands, add one extra step...run hands under cold water and try to refrain from cursing because your children are watching and waiting to the dough to be done. :)
Knead the cooled mixture until smooth. It is amazing at how nice and smooth the dough becomes. I have never used the Magic Dough from Crayola (too cheap) but this is what I envision it to be like.
Roll out the dough to approximately 1/4 inch thick on a flat surface. If you find the mixture to be a little sticky, add a little cornstarch either on the counter on kneed it into the mixture.
Cut out desired shape with cookie cutters.
I had a few cookie press from when I was younger that the kids wanted to try and to be honest with you they are my favorites!
We used a drinking straw to make the hole a the top of each of the ornaments.

My son decided he was going to decorate a snowman with a straw and a butter knife. It is cute and he is quite proud of his work.
When I left the ornaments out to air dry, they dried nicely overnight. I did flip them over before I went to bed to ensure both sides dried evenly. This produced the nicest ornaments! They remained pure white and still have the shimmer to them.
 
But if you want to bake them, be prepared, they will slightly brown a bit in the process (especially the back). If you plan to paint the ornament, this is a great option for you. I was hoping to make pure white ornaments, so the air dry method was my favorite.
To bake them, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ornaments on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Be sure to watch closely for the last 10-15 minutes to prevent over browning. 
Here is the back of one of the ornaments I baked. See how the back of the ornament is a light brown?
You can seal any unused dough in plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator until needed. I am not sure how long it will last, so I recommend only making enough for you to use within a few days.

The possibilities are endless for this craft! My kids have always loved making things out of dough, but we have never found a reasonably priced dough that air dries. You can add food coloring along with the water to color the dough and like I said, I think some glitter for Christmas ornaments would be amazing!

My kids have always made ornaments for family members but this year I think the ornaments will double as the labels. Have any of you ever make reusable Christmas gift labels? This will be my first year, but I am excited especially for family members who are just starting out and don't have many ornaments.

Have any of you used this recipe before? What have your results been? 

Anyone else getting ready for Christmas already? What are you working on?

Have a great Sunday!
Stephanie

51 comments:

  1. this is beautiful, I can't wait to try it!!!

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  2. great idea I will have to try this

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  3. Hi,
    This is a great idea! And I'm with you, I like the white better and adding glitter is another great idea! Can't wait to see more!
    All the best,
    Cathy

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  4. i just love the effect of white ornies on a tree and this is a must try with my grand kids...how do you store these and do they break easily?
    thanks for the step by step....pictures make the difference.....vivian

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    1. Hi Vivian, I made a few different thicknesses and the really thin ones did break easily but the ornaments that were approx 1/4 inch thick were very strong. I will store them wrapped in tissue, flat in a box like I do all my other flat Christmas ornaments.
      Stephanie

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  5. I suppose you could even use a little sandpaper or even a nail file on the edges to smooth out any rough spots or edges that might be a little pointy. I can't wait to give this try. Thanks for sharing! ::

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  6. Have used this recipe for about 15 years! We paint ours with food Colouring and seal with white glue. They are beautiful and my Kindy kids love them xxx

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  7. Thank you!

    Greetings from Finland! We already have snow. =) Winter is coming.

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  8. What a fabulous idea! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful idea to make with our kids and grandkids. I have been using a recipe that also takes Elmers glue. This seems much easier as well as less expensive.

    I plan to use them as gift tags... to from and date on the back... then hang them on the tree the following year :) Kind of a memory ornament of sorts.

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  9. I have a simple suggestion for anyone creating their own ornaments. Cut your hanging ribbon/string the length you need. Fold it in half and poke the loop through the hole... then run the two free ends through that loop... now tie a knot in the free ends. You have the same general hanging 'string' except by doing it this way, your ornament will hang outward on your tree, and not have to rest on a branch to stay in a position for good viewing... it won't hang sideways.

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  10. Thank you for the detailed instructions and How To photos. This type of post is definitely for people like myself who really appreciate step by step photos!

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  11. Thank you for the detailed instructions and How To photos. This type of post is definitely for people like myself who really appreciate step by step photos!

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  12. From this Grandma - I've passed this recipes along (& still use it), since I made them in a parent run "nursery" school 38+ years ago! Overnight drying is fine, but a lower oven (225ish) for a longer time dries without browning. I've used them at Sunday School and now use makers to color (quicker than paint) or a glue stick and then shake some glitter - a quick fun decoration. Kids love it!

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  13. I have really enjoyed you giving some wonderful tips. I love doing crafts and will make some of these for women in our Sunday School Class. Gob Bless you and again thank you for sharing.

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  14. I have really enjoyed you giving some wonderful tips. I love doing crafts and will make some of these for women in our Sunday School Class. Gob Bless you and again thank you for sharing.

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  15. Hi! I followed your recipe and made ornaments from my newborns feet imprints, I'm giving th as gifts to my mom and mother in law. I noticed when they started to dry the ornaments started cracking a lot, I want these to last a long time, do you have any suggestions? Maybe modge podge?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alicia,

      I am sorry I don't have any suggestions. I have done this a few times and have not had any cracking. I wish I could help...have you searched online for others with the same problem? This recipe has been around for many years so you might find some suggestions. Let me know if you do find anything!
      Stephanie

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  16. I have the same exact angel ornament. It was my mothers and it very special to me. Idk where you're from originally but it was crazy to see an ornament on a blog that I've been seeing for 25 years!

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  17. Thank you for this idea, I have been looking for a special ornament to make for my family, my daughter in law is in the service and they have moved so many places. I want to create the places they have been on ornaments. thanks again

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  18. I do tray favors for the hospital and I will really enjoy doing this. I make around 60 tray favors every holiday. Thank you so much. And, it will be fun to paint them.

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  19. What an adorable work of art! Thank you for sharing this. It will be perfect in nourishing the skill of a child. We also did a Foam Dough out of the same materials you used. You should check this out!
    EarlyLearning.Momtrusted.comFoam Dough = Shaving Cream + Corn Starch

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  20. this is where thank you for your recipe!
    i'm italian but i do hope you get the message.
    http://bacidare.blogspot.it/2013/09/decorazioni-per-l-di-natale.html

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  21. At what point should the glitter be added? With the water?

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  22. Did these last year, the ornaments kept beautifully some did crack while drying but they were the thinner ones. Making more this evening :)

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  23. It might just be a coincidence but my (2 year old, well taken care of) teflon coated pan did not survive the cooking and left little black spots in my dough. I would recommend using a non-coated pot for the cooking.

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  24. My dough was crumbly, maybe because I added fine glitter to the recipe.

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    Replies
    1. My dough is cooling right now, but I'm going to try to knead the glitter in with the dough. I was going to add it to the recipe, but I wasn't sure how cooking the glitter would turn out.

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  25. Thank you from Greece.I'll make it with my 4 children today !!!

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  26. some of mine puffed up and most of them cracked. they were in for 10 minutes and i noticed and took the good one out to just finish on the air.

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  27. I first came across this recipe 20+ years ago on the box of baking soda. After making it, I would press the dough in a Wilton's candy mold. After letting them set for a few hours, I would remove them and wait for them to air dry. Some I baked, but I didn't like the browning. Once dry, I painted them with regular acrylic paints and sealed them, front and back, with a satin or glossy finish. They lasted at least ten years before mice got to them in the storage shed. I was stunned at their staying power. Now, with young children in the home again, we'll be making more! A great recipe and a great end product.

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    1. Hi. When you said you sealed them with satin or glossy finish. What exactly was it? paint? or something else? Thanks!
      And thanks so much for this recipe and for the details on what to avoid and the pictures. I tried from another site the first time and it didn't work. So, step by step with pictures is super helpful!! A lot of mine cracked too. This time I'm going to let them air dry and see if that works better. Merry Christmas!

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  28. Very helpful, thank you for the tutorial! Our ornaments turned out great, including some little handprints :)

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  29. Approx How many ornaments does this recipe make?

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  30. Quick question. Please answer if these air dry does it dry all the way through or just the outside layer? I make the flour and salt ones and the outside layer dried and the inside of my ornament stayed like dough then it crumbled. I just want to be sure that these get truly solid and will not crumble

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  31. Quick question. Please answer if these air dry does it dry all the way through or just the outside layer? I make the flour and salt ones and the outside layer dried and the inside of my ornament stayed like dough then it crumbled. I just want to be sure that these get truly solid and will not crumble

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  32. These baking ideas are absolutely amazing, and I never knew that it even exists, Thanks a lot for sharing wonderful ideas with us.

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  33. I added green food coloring! They turned out great!!! :)

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  34. These turned out great- thank you! I have to ask, where can you find those imprint cookie cutters you used?

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  35. The maize starch, also known as corn starch is used on an extensive scale for the preparation of corn syrup. It is widely used as the ingredients for various food items.

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  36. I'm going to try this as a yarn bowl. I'll let you know.

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  38. Thank you so much for this, I plan on making Christmas stars with my 2 little granddaughters tomorrow. I wonder if the natural sparkle that you mention is salt? The word 'soda' in baking soda means salt and salt sparkles. Just a thought.

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  39. Thank you so much for this! This is my "go to" recipe for clay. It takes color from alcohol inks very well. I use it for making personal aromatherapy diffuser pendants and the little sparkle is an extra plus! I dry mine in the dehydrator with no issues. So economical and durable! You definitely won't be disappointed with this easy recipe.

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  40. I'm 32 and I don't have any kids. I would love to try this looks like fun. I'm a big kis myself. How ever did u think of this?

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  41. hi there- I have just recently found this "recipe" and love it! I am glad to see they last a long time! I make the dough with glitter in the mix and also add some after when I am kneading the dough- works great! I also add a teaspoon of peppermint extract. You can vary the extract for different smells. I would suggest modge podge or even a coat of shellac (which will eliminate any extract smell, ah well!)-or you can spray the decorations with a clear or satin coat spray. It's also good to spray over glitter to avoid having pixie dust everywhere! Next up color in the mix!

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