If you didn’t know, I have a two year old, and I am a little paranoid about my little child being in touch with chemicals… Okay, I know technically everything is a chemical, but I don’t like not to know what he is in touch with. Some day I will just buy stuff, but for right now, a period in which his organism, his neural system, is undergoing such a rapid development; a time in which industries just dump substances of dubious effects in everything, I am making a lot of things myself: play dough, paints, and today we did some home made plaster to make some Halloween decorations.
The recipe was simple, I took it from a website:
Two cups of flour
One and a half cup of boiling water
One cup of salt.
Dissolve salt in boiling water, mix everything, knead, voila!
… Except that it didn’t work, I was left with a mess of very thick bubbling salt. It looked like some prehistoric swamp. So I went ahead and started reading about making brine, and it so happens that different salts occupy different volumes so you should actually work with weight. Since I don’t have a scale, I had to eyeball it, and since I don’t know what kind of salt you will use I cannot give you an exact recipe, so I will tell you what I did and you can work things out in your nook in the woods.
In a bowl add two cups of flour. Boil one cup of water and start adding salt (I started with 1/4 cup) stirring to dissolve, stop adding salt when the water cannot take any more. Add this water to the flour, mix with a spoon and once the mixture is cool enough, knead with your hands as if it was bread.
Before doing this, I separated the dough in three and added some food coloring. I used orange and purple to evoke Halloween colors. As I kneaded to integrate the color and make it uniform, the plaster took a good smooth and elastic consistency.
Then I took the rolling pin and stretched the dough thin, as if making cookies. We used cookie cutters to make shapes: pumpkins, ghosts, and just because my son loves them also hearts and stars. With the help of a straw I made holes to pass string. We put the cut shapes on cookie sheets covered with aluminium foil (the tray and the cookies) and put them in the oven at 200 ¤F for three and a half hours, I turned them half way through. Poor Ignacio, he truly though we were making cookies, it took a lot to convince him that the plaster is not for eating.
The dough baked, and even at such a low temperature the colors became muted and dry. I didn’t much care because I wanted to evoke fall, but if you want vivid colors, which I will want for Christmas, I would suggest to use a lot of coloring.
After the shapes cooled off we proceeded to decorate them. I didn’t have a lot at home that was toddler friendly, and my other baby was napping, so I wanted to be quiet, therefore I took pencils and crayons. You could use markers, paint and brush, anything you want. We also used stickers…. because stickers are awesome.
The last thing was to pass some string through the holes and hanging the shapes.
While these are definitely not pinterest perfect, we enjoyed making them, especially since I could keep my child quietly entertained while the baby was napping. And he loved picking where to hang them.