Jeff and I finally broke down and put up our Christmas tree. I've been busy with some U2 lunacy and a difficult portrait commission over the past couple of weeks. Those tasks completed, I engaged in a bit of therapeutic ornament-making, this time with salt dough. In the past I've made gingerbread ornaments, but this year I thought the tree needed something more colorful, and salt dough is so much easier and less expensive. I used to make salt dough ornaments with Mom to give to my teachers as Christmas presents, so the smell and texture of this dough transported me back to my pre-teen years.
- 1 cup salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup water
In a large bowl mix salt and flour. Gradually stir in water. Mix well until it forms a doughy consistency.
With your hands form a ball with your dough and kneed it for at least 5 minutes.
Store your salt dough in a air tight container and you will be able to use it for days.
You can paint our creations with acrylic paints and seal with varnish or polyurethane spray.
You can let your salt dough creations air dry; however, salt dough can also be dried in the oven. Bake at 200 degrees F until your creation is dry. The amount of time needed to bake your creations depends on size and thickness; thin flat ornaments may only take 45-60 minutes, thicker creations can take 2-3 hours or more. You can increase your oven temperature to 350 F, your dough will dry faster but it may also brown, which won't matter if you are painting your entire creation.
My ornaments, which were between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, took around an hour and a half to bake at 200 degrees. I used the entire cup of water in making the dough, so it may have been a little on the damp side. I let them continue to air-dry overnight before I painted them the next day. I used cookie cutters shaped like Christmas ornaments--an early present from Jeff--and, when I dipped them in a little flour, they cut through the dough beautifully, and those complicated, delicate shapes were no problem.
This recipe produced over 40 ornaments, each about 3 inches tall. I took them up to my work table and busted out some sequins and extra-cheap acrylic paint. I had no real plan, but I found myself painting each ornament with tints of a single color accented with coordinating sequins. Then I varnished them with a clear acrylic glitter paint. A couple of hours later, I had these:
I found a half-box of ornament hooks (or whatever you call them) leftover from last year, and I was ready to hang them!
Earlier this year, Jeff and I rearranged our living room furniture. We love the new setup, but it messed up our usual tree-area, so we moved the tree to our library, which you might remember from this painting:
The tree is small, so to give it some height, we set it on the table between the two wicker chairs. We also had to move the middle bookshelf away from the wall to access the outlet behind it. But soon enough we were decorating the tree, and Jeff used some gargoyle bookends to hang stockings behind it.
And here are some of the ornaments, which we paired with our usual birds.
They're prettier at night.
Two weeks ago, I transformed my studio into a GLOW CHAMBER.
As I sat on the floor, trying to arrange the lights in a way that made a tiny bit sense, I'm pretty sure a spider bit my foot through my sock. I felt an instant, mild itch and watched a small light yellow spider crawl beneath my bookshelves on the left. The bite swelled up immediately and turned pink. Fearing a week of pain, I popped an antihistamine, applied some antibiotic cream and anti-itch gel, elevated my foot, and put the sucker on ice. Over the following week I watched the formerly-swollen-but-now-just-bruisey area, which was about the size of a Chips Ahoy! cookie, turn a rainbow of colors: dusty plum, cadet blue, zombie green. But it never really hurt or itched, and then it went away. I suppose I'm writing about this so that if one day my skin splits and billions of small light yellow spiders come streaming out, well, here's how that happened.
And what holiday season would be complete without Christmas Marvin Gaye? I've always thought his What's Going On album seemed Christmasy, and for years I have made a point of displaying it next to something festive. First known example:
So that was great, but this year I really topped myself by placing him in the GLOW CHAMBER. I urge you to make Christmas Marvin Gaye a tradition in your house.
One last time: I have to plug my online merchandise store. Thanks to all who have ordered items with my paintings on them--I just put together some new compacts featuring details from Ruby Liberty Dragonfly. I appreciate each and every sale I make. Please go there and get a little something for yourself!
And it's not too late to pick up a print of mine from Imagekind. Prints are 25% off this weekend, and how about that free shipping? Framed and canvas prints tend to take about a week to ten days for them to produce, but unframed prints usually get shipped out a couple of days after you order. Thanks again, everyone!