Salt dough modelling and hints
The tools needed :
A knife (For kids, one in plastic is ideal)
Toothpicks are useful for fixing the various parts of the model together.
A rolling pin needed for flattening.
A garlic-press To create animal 'fur'
Aluminum paper rolled into balls or cubes, helps support the clay during baking.
A paint brush for dampening and to help stick the different pieces of a model together.
Wire shaped in a 'u' and fixed to the back of the model for wall-hanging.
More complicated items can take 1 to 2 hours to model. You need to book yourself some time then!
Don't forget to regularly dampen the model with a paintbrush during the process, so the clay surface remains stable. Once the model is finished, place it in a preheated oven on a greaseproof paper covered baking sheet.
For the more delicate models, avoid the risk of damaging them between worksurface and baking sheet by first placing a piece of greaseproof paper on the worksurface where you are modeling, meaning when finished, you can slide the model on the paper directly onto the baking sheet.
A heavier model is harder to bake - to help, shape balls in aluminum paper and cover them with clay to model the thickest parts. A case in point : the hat above, smooth the clay round a large aluminum ball, placed at the center of a circle of clay. A clay bow, ribbon and flowers or butterflies are added...a final hint : the hat is 'marked' with a small wicker basket all along its widest side.
Baking time : 3 to 4 hours at 100 celsius (212 fahrenheit) in a fan assisted oven, filling two or three of the racks. After one hour, take the models off the baking sheet and greaseproof paper and place them directly on the rack. This allows for more even baking. Bring the temperature down very low, to let the salt dough
dry without losing its shape. It's important the bottom of the model stays even if it's to be used as a decoration or on a wood base (see our many different examples).
You can also dry the models more slowly on a radiator or by a fireplace (but keep a close eye on things!)
The supporting elements (wreathes, braids) and the smaller elements such as the plates can be cooked first, helping the assembling process.
If you have left-over clay, make these smaller items immediately (e.g the figurine heads with toothpicks fixed in their necks to allow assembly with other pieces not yet made) : it's very useful to only have hair or a hat to add at the end, without having to worry this might damage the models.
The clay is dry when a tap from a knife blade (on both sides, of course), produces a clear sound.