Creative Afternoon #4 - Saltdough cafting

Before i swam in the dead sea for the first time and licked my fingers after the swim (big mistake) i thought that the most salty thing on earth is the saltdough from my childhood...

My mother often did saltdough carfting with us and of course, although she would warn us that this is not cookie dough and far far far from tasty, we couldn't help it and always ate a tiny little bit, just to spit it out right afterwards yelling and laughing: "pfffffiiiiiiii disgusting!!!!"

Saltdough is amazing for kids. First its non-toxic (except if you eat tons of it...) and completely natural. Its prepared in 1 minute and it doesn't stick to the fingers while you model it and it's cheap. Alva can play with it for a long while without getting bored. The basic recipe listed below gives a white dough, but you can add food colors to make colored dough, you can also work with all sorts of lentils and seeds for decoration (i like to use black lentils the most, you can do stracciatella dough with them). When the models are dry and baked, you can also paint them with non-toxic paint (avoid using aquarell paint, it contains too much water and would make the models soft again).


Recipe for Saltdough:

200gr. white flour

100gr. Potato flour

200gr. table salt

150ml. water

While the handling of saltdough is quite easy, the drying and baking process take some time and have to be done carefully to avoid the models to break.

Carefully place the models/ornaments on a baking tray layered with baking paper. If you plan on hanging them, don't forget to make a small hole. You can use a chop stick or any other pointed object, like a wool needle. Please make sure that the hole is at least about 2 mm diameter. If it is too small, it could close during the baking process. Let the models dry at the air for at least 1 day. Then put them in the oven for 3 hours. In the first hour, bake them at 75 degrees celsius (if your oven doesn't have temperatures that low, you can put the temperature to the minimum possible and leave the door of the oven open a bit). After one hour, raise the temperature to 120 degrees celsius and bake for another hour (make sure to close the oven this time). After that, raise the temperature again to 150 degrees and bake for another hour.

Let the models/ornaments cool down. Once they are cold, they are ready to be painted.

Creative Afternoon #3

Most of my joy and wish for crafting comes from my mother and the many many projects she did with us. Specially for birthdays of family members, she always had ideas about nice presents to create with us. So it was quite natural that when the birthdays of all of Alva's grand-parents came up (they were all born within the same two month) i searched for small projects i could do with him. 

It's not quite easy to find something suitable for a toddler to create and enjoyable/useful for a parent to receive...Alva loves to scribble around with paint and brushes. The result of it is often a baby covered in colors and a white paper, but he enjoys it so much that i let him. So i thought to work with his joy of scribbling.

What you need for this DIY:

- A wooden box or any other wooden object that you think fit (mirror with wooden frame or picture frame, pin-board, terracotta plant pot, ect...) - I got a simple box with a small locker at a craft store.

- Acrylic paint - I used two different colors but you could use as many as you like and do a JacksonPollock type of box

- A medium sized flat paint brush and a medium sized round paint brush

- Any kind of protective layer for the table you will do the project on

- A piece of white or colored paper (A4 size is perfect)

- Eventually clear lacquer (if you like a glossy finish) but careful, lacquer is toxic and should NEVER get into the hands of your child - i personally don't use lacquer because i don't like the smell of it and i prefer the natural look of the matte finish...

1. Cover the table you are working on with some kind of protective layer.

2. Paint the box in the color of your liking. Let it dry for several hours and make sure that the paint is entirely dry before you go to the next step. If your kid is old enough, maybe he/she can do this step on their own with your help. (You could of course also skip this step and let your kid paint on the natural wood).

3. Let the fun part begin. Put some clothes on your toddler that you don't mind getting dirty, (or take all the clothes off him/her)... Show how to dip the brush in the paint and make a first stroke on the box, then hand off the brush to your kid and let them do whatever they choose to do. eventually turn the box slightly to make them paint on all surfaces more or less equally.

4. Since the painting of the box is probably done pretty quickly, get a piece of paper ready so your kid can continue to paint without getting frustrated. In the meanwhile, put the box away to a safe place to dry over night.

5. Once dry eventually apply the layer of lacquer. This should be done by YOU and never by your kid!!!

6. Finished is the birthday present...Maybe you can even use a piece of the extra paper you gave your kid to paint on as a matching birthday card.

Creative Afternoon #2

One of the things i like most about weekends - besides family time and baking, is crafting. At the moment, Alva is fascinated by elephants. Every object in the house which even remotely resembles an elephant, is an elephant in Alva's eyes. So i decided to print an elephant shirt for him. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. One color on an unicolor cotton shirt. 

Here is the very simple step by step DIY tutorial. At the end you will find the print out templates for 3 different animal shirts. The elephant, a giraffe and a whale...Please notice that this tutorial is not suitable for kids under the age of 10. For smaller kiddos, i recommend to cut out and glue the shape yourself and let them apply the color with your assistance.

What you need for this DIY:

- A simple cotton shirt

- Textile color (I am using Marabu Textil)

- The printed out template (printed out in A4 or adjust the size of the print by playing with the % on the copy machine)

- Washable, non-toxic stick glue

- A paint brush (medium size)

- Scissors

- A piece of carton (i.e. from a cornflakes box)

- An iron (most of the textile colors are permanently fixed to the fabric only after ironing)

1. Once you have the template printed out in the right size to fit the shirt, start cutting out the elephant. Make sure to keep the "ear" and "eye" cut outs, you will need them later.

Place the carton piece inside the t-shirt, to make sure the paint will not pass on the other side.

2. Flip around the paper and apply a layer of glue to the borders of the elephant. There is no need to apply glue on the rest of the paper. It would just make it unnecessary difficult to remove the paper afterwards but make sure that all the edges, specially the smaller parts (like the tail) are covered.

Flip the ear and eye as well and apply glue to them.

3. Flip the paper and press it on the shirt. Place the ear and the eye in the correct place. Make sure that all the small parts are sticking well to the fabric in order to guarantee a clean edge for your drawing. 

4. Apply the paint to the shirt. Brush from the paper to the textile and not the other way around. Paint out the whole elephant...

5. Till it looks like this...then let it dry for a few hours.

6. When the paint is dry, gently remove the paper. This can be a bit tricky, since in some small parts, thin layers of paper will probably stay. Don't worry too much about them, since the glue is washable, they will come off later once you wash the shirt.

7. Follow the instructions on the textile paint about how to fix it permanently to the shirt. For Marabu colors, you need to place a cloth on the drawing (to prevent ruining both your iron and the drawing) and iron the painted area for 3 minutes (cotton heat without steam).

8. Wash the shirt with 30 degrees celsius to take off eventual remaining bits of paper and glue.

Templates to print out (please do not reproduce for commercial use)