The art of salt dough making dates back as far as Egyptian times. With salt and flour being the main two ingredients it's relatively inexpensive and loads of fun. Once you've made your dough you can play and model it into any shape you want; leave it to dry and then paint it.
The materials needed to start will probably be in your kitchen cupboard already. Moulds, cutters, knives and rolling pins may also come in handy In fact many objects that you have lying around the house can be used as templates or texture makers.
Salt Dough Recipe
• 2 cups of Plain Flour
• 1 cup of table salt
• 1 cup of water
• 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (makes it a little easier to knead)
• 1 tablespoon of wallpaper paste (gives the mixture more elasticity)
• 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (makes the finished product harder)
Put plain flour, salt and any, or all, of the optional ingredients into a mixing bowl and gradually add the water, mixing to soft dough. This should be neither too sticky, in which case add more flour, nor too dry, in which case add more water. When mixed remove from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead for 10 minutes to help create a smooth texture. If possible it is best to let the dough stand for approximately twenty minutes before beginning a project. Unused dough can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container or cling film, for up to a week. Children always love making models, and as long as you don’t add wallpaper paste all of the ingredients are natural. So if they are tempted to put it in their mouths, all it will do is taste incredibly salty.
The drying of your work can either be done naturally in the open air, or it can be baked in an oven. However it is not recommended that you have your oven hotter than 100C (200F/Gas Mark 1/4) as this can cause unsightly bubbles and cracks in your pastry. Personally, I tend to start at 50C and after 30 minutes increase to 100C. The drying time needed for each piece varies according to size and thickness, but an average time for natural drying is 30-48 hours, whilst oven times are generally reduced to 3-4 hours. These figures are only offered as a rough guide and remember that both sides must be dried out. When your model is dry, turn off the oven and leave it inside to cool down.
Don't paint your model until it is completely dry. Water based acrylic paints are ideal and the colours are strong and vivid.