Salt Dough Christmas Decorations inspired by UK Nature
In this post, we look at how to make salt dough Christmas Decorations inspired by nature in the UK. This follows on from our previous post on making handprint salt dough ornaments. It is a simple and fun activity that I have enjoyed doing myself and is also easy enough for children to do, so I like to make these with my children. I was inspired to do these ornaments after seeing the work of Rachel Dein, a London artist who does botanical castings. Our salt dough Christmas decorations that are inspired by nature in the UK are a simplified version of her work. They are easy enough to make with simple ingredients that you will already have in your home. You can use plants that you find in the parks and gardens near where you live.
For full instructions on making salt dough, see my post on Salt Dough Handprint Ornaments.
To make nature-print ornaments, you will need a selection of cut flowers, grasses or berries that you will use to press. To begin, my son and I went out and collected English lavender from our garden. Then we went on several walks on the heath and in parks collecting a range of plants including various grasses, dried out flowers & stems, leaves, and berries. We found that plants that were thicker and sturdier worked best for pressing. The more delicate leaves and flowers are easily crushed and don’t show up when pressed into the salt dough. I think that the English lavender and wild grasses turned out the best, but it can be fun to experiment with different plants to see what happens.
Follow the instructions in my handprint ornament post for the full recipe and instructions for making salt dough. Once the salt dough is ready, roll out a flat circle or oval (to fit whatever grasses, flowers or berries that you will be pressing). Then place the grasses, etc. over the ornament and press down firmly. Some bits of the plant may fall off and stick into the salt dough, but you can use tweezers to pick them out before drying. Remember that cracks can be filled in with a flour and water paste after drying. This will give the ornaments a nice, smooth finish. You can paint them with acrylic paint or leave them unpainted. Either way, you will need to seal them with a varnish. There are matt and gloss varnishes available depending on what type of finish you would like.
What they get from it
Cooking and baking with children allows them to begin to develop skills and understanding of measurement. They will mix the salt dough with their hands which helps develop strength, manipulative skills, and fine motor skills. It also provides children with the opportunity to develop language skills through shared experiences. Cooking and baking are an excellent opportunity for children to be introduced to scientific skills related to properties of matter and chemical reactions.
Making impressions with natural objects, and later painting them, is a very simple way to make marks. This type of activity will continue to get them ready for writing. I thought they were beautiful without paint so my son painted some of them and the rest we left ‘natural’.
Take if Further
If you are interested in doing more salt dough crafting with kids, see my post on making Salt Dough Beads. This is another great activity for dark winter evenings. The beads are lovely for children to be able to use for threading and developing fine motor skills.