Monday, December 7, 2009

This year's decorations - a step by step

After much deliberation, I finally settled on a decoration for this year. To explain for any new visitors, every year I make new decorations for our tree. When I was living near family, I gave them out for their trees, too. We have no family living nearby now, so I give them out to friends.

My criteria for making these include that they be a challenging and, preferably, new craft and that they be relatively inexpensive to make. The materials need to be easy to aquire, and it can't take a rediculously long time to do. This year's decoration kinda skims the edge of that last requirement, as they will take several days to make.


After someone sent me a link with a lot of ideas, I settled on doing something with cinnamon dough. Here's the start of it.

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The basic ingredients are equal parts cinnamon and applesauce, with extra cinnamon if the applesauce is particularly liquidy. I added ground cloves and nutmeg for extra scent.

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The resulting dough ended up needing a LOT more cinnamon, and was a very sticky mess. The instructions I'd read mentioned potential problems with cracking. As I kept adding more and more cinnamon, I decided to start adding white flour, thinking that the gluten might help a bit.

Only later did I remember that the intructions also suggested adding craft glue to the dough.

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Since I added flour to the dough, I gave it some time to rest before I continued working with it. This is the dough after it had sit for about 10 minutes, and I'd kneaded it for a bit.

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It rolled out quite nicely.

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We decided to jazz things up a bit by sprinkling sparkles over the top and gently pressing them in with the rolling pin.

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I don't have a lot of cookie cutters - when I bake cookies, they tend to be the drop kind. I've got a Tupperware set with different sizes and took advantage of the fact that some fit inside others. After cutting, I used a toothpick to make a hole for hanging.

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Although the dough didn't really stick to surfaces much, a spatula was still needed to avoid destroying the shape while picking them up.

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Once the holes were put in, the shapes were put onto a cookie sheet for drying.

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My daughter added more sparkles in other colours to some of them.

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After filling the tray, I was going to use the last of the dough to make a braided wreath. After dividing it into a small piece for the bow and 3 equal pieces for the braid, I started making dough ropes. After I reached the length I wanted, I added sparkles to the surface and rolled the rope into them to coat it.

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I covered the long ropes in silver, gold and red sparkles. The short rope for the bow was rolled in white/pearlescent sparkles (all these came together as part of a set, which you can see in the back, by the tray).

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I squeezed the ends of the rope together to start braiding. They didn't want to stick together very well.

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I tried holding the ends together with one hand while manipulating the ropes.

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Problems started right away, as the ropes began to crack.

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I tried repairing the cracks, but it just didn't work.

About here is when I remembered the glue suggestion. I undid the braid and tried kneading glue into the dough of each rope seperately, then rolled them out again, but it still didn't work. I ended up just rolling them flat and making more shapes out of them.

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Like these.

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And these are all the ones that were made before I tried making the wreath.

From what I've read, they will need a few days to try thoroughly. I will put them in the oven with just the light on for even drying. Hopefully, they won't take too long to dry. Once they are dry, I will add things to them for decoration and put on ribbon loops for hangers.

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