Sometimes I think, why buy something when I can just make it? Get your craft on! And while some things turn out better than others (let's be real), at least the experience is super fun :)
For this craft I decided I wanted to experiment with salt dough and try to figure out some of the different things I could do with it- and one day I made a BUNCH of different fun things, but one thing that I was particularly proud of was the leaf bowl that I made, so I thought I'd share the experience with you all :)
For this craft you will need:
-Salt (at least 1 cup)
-Flower (at least 1 cup)
-Water (at least 1/2 cup)
-Large Mixing Bowl
-Small Salad Bowl (use a ceramic bowl or something that can be baked in an oven for this- but do not use metal)
-Rolling Pin (a wine bottle or similar is a good alternative if you don't have one)
-Knife (a butter knife is fine)
-Assorted Paint Brushes (small)
1. Make Salt Dough
The traditional recipe for salt dough is 1 cup flour + 1 cup salt + 1/2 water- stir together (add a splash more water as/if needed) and stir together in a big bowl until the consistency is nice and dough-like.
Roll out dough using rolling pin (or wine bottle/reasonable alternative) until it's your desired thickness, I did about a 1/8" thick for mine.
You may also want to pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees F at this point so it's ready to go when you're done.
2. Create Leaf Bowl Shape
Take a small salad bowl and lay your dough over it, then gently pat it down to form against the inside of the bowl, this is a very similar process to placing the crust dough on a pie. Once your dough is in place, take a knife (a butter knife works fine, but a meat/steak knife also works great- please note that a knife with a serated edge will not cut as cleanly through the dough, a flat edged blade works much better) and cut off the extra dough from around the top of the bowl.
Now that you have your basic "bowl mold" ready, embed/mark your leaf pattern into your dough (you can lightly use your knife or you can use a pencil if that's easier for you). I find that oak leaves are pretty easy to replicate because it's basically just wavy lines, so I simply free-styled my leaf shape and cut off the excess dough, leaving me with my basic leaf-bowl shape.
Below are some images that may be helpful to you to follow to create your own pattern:
3. Enhance Bowl Pattern
Using the tip or edge of your knife, draw in the stem, veins and other details of the leaf- be sure not to press all the way through the dough, you are simply embedding a pattern into your existing bowl.
Tip: if the lines you make with your knife are causing a bit of "crumbling" or flaking around the as they are drawn, your dough may be a bit on the dry side. To fix this, you can use a slightly wet paint brush (water only!) to paint over the problem areas and the additional water will help to smooth out the edges of your bowl and clean up any lines that you make to ensure the leaf design retains it's integrity. Be careful though, using too much water on your brush or in one particular area will ruin your dough, so start with just a little water on your brush and go over the area lightly, you can always go over problem areas more than once if need be.
Personally, I wanted to have embedded veins on both sides of my bowl, so first I took the "mold" out of the inside of the bowl, flipped the bowl over, placed the dough on the outside of the salad bowl (which was facing down so the bottom of the bowl was facing up), and not that the bottom of the bowl was exposed and supported, I "drew" the veins on the bottom of the bowl with the edge of my knife. Once that was done, I gently removed the dough from on top of the salad bowl, flipped the salad bowl back over so it was open side up, gently placed the dough back inside the salad bowl, ensuring not to press to hard and therefore "erase" the veins I had just drawn, and "drew"
4. Bake Your Bowl
Bake your bowl (in the salad bowl) for 3-4 hours on 200 degrees F, and then check to see if it's done. If it still looks a little doughy (which it may depending on the thickness and water content of your dough) leave it in until it looks like it's fully baked.
Once you remove your project from the oven, allow it to dry over night to ensure it's as dry as possibly before you start to decorate your bowl- you don't want to ruin all your hard work! While your project dries overnight, I would leave it in the salad bowl, I would not seperate the two until you are sure they are fully dry. If the center is still a little wet it may stick to the bowl when it is seperated, thus ruining the finishing product. You should be able to just gently separate/twist the two bowls apart once they are dry.
5. Paint Your Bowl
The colors you choose to paint with are completely up to you. They could depend on season you want your leaf to be in, or if you want to use realistic colors/patterns, etc., so have your idea in mind and gather the paints and paint brushes you'll need to complete your bowl.
I wanted my leaf to be reminicient of the begining of Fall, and I wanted it to look pretty realistic, so I painted my bowl accordingly. I also wanted it to look fairly "natural" so I did not put on a protective layer, which would have made it a bit shiny. Regardless of whether you wanted to put on a protective coat layer or not, I would definately recommend doing two coates of paint for this project as the bowl will absorb a little bit of the paint as it dries.
Yay! Now you have a custom bowl! How cool is that?