Salt Dough

Crafty Fun Recipes

Crafty Fun How-to Create Your Own Homemade Recipes Instructions

Make Air Dry Salt Dough, Play Dough, Paper Mache, & Finger Paints

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to create plenty of playful messterpieces!

By Chris Dunmire | Updated October 20, 2018

Salt Dough

Making your own homemade salt dough is easy and fun! Get out your rolling pin, cookie cutters, and creative imagination to create one-of-a-kind salt dough ornaments and novelty gifts for Christmas or any occasion. Alternatively, you can learn how to make cinnamon dough here, perfect for scented projects and ornaments.

Know there are many variations on the theme to making your own salt dough for craft projects. Some liken it to making a pie crust, so find a recipe you like that works well for your needs, or use it to adapt your own recipe. To get you started, here's a basic salt dough recipe I like, followed by recipes for clay play dough, finger paint, and paper mache.

Salt Dough Recipe


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 cup cold water


In a large bowl, mix table salt and flour together. Gradually add 1/2 cup of water and mix to desired consistency. Knead the dough on a flat surface, adding a few more drops of water as needed (but not making it too moist).

Once the dough is made, you can divide it up into small portions to roll into 1/8" thick pieces with a rolling pin. Use cookie cutters to cut out a variety of shapes, and place the shapes on wax paper or other surface to dry. If you want to make hanging ornaments, pierce the dough through with a toothpick while it's wet.

Allow the shapes to dry for a day or two, turning them over periodically to speed up the drying process. You may need to re-pierce the hole several times during the drying process. After the shapes dry, you can use a fine grit sandpaper to gently smooth any rough edges.

Baking Alternative

Instead of allowing the dough shapes to air dry, you can bake them in the oven at 200 degrees F until hard. Baking times varies depending on oven and dough thickness. Make sure the dough is completely baked. You can cover the dough with aluminum foil if it starts to darken before completely baked through.

Bonus Salt Dough Project Suggestions and Tips:

  • Store prepared salt dough in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a day or two before using.
  • Add color to the dough by mixing food coloring or paint into the water before adding it to the flour/salt mix. Alternatively, you can paint the finished baked dough with acrylic paint.
  • Painted objects should be sealed on all sides with polyurethane spray or clear varnish to make them lasting gifts or keepsakes.

Recipe for Homemade Flour-Based Clay Play Dough

Want to save money by not buying that stuff in the can? Follow these simple instructions for making your own colored clay dough.

Clay dough makes great modeling material for all kinds of arts and craft projects. It can be formed into sculptures just like real clay, dried, and painted.

Making your own clay dough is easy and fun! Here are a couple of recipes you can use to make your own clay dough and imaginative creations.

Traditional Clay Dough Recipe


1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp. oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup warm water
food coloring


Mix all ingredients together, adding the food coloring last.

Stir ingredients over medium heat until smooth.

Remove from pan and knead dough until it's blended and smooth.

When cool, store dough in airtight container or sealed plastic bag.

Alternative Recipe for Clay Dough


1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbs. powdered alum
1 tsp. oil
1 cup boiling water
food coloring


Combine flour, sugar, and alum. Add oil and water.

Stir the mixture until it's cool and then knead in the food coloring.

When cooled, store dough in airtight container or sealed plastic bag.

Recipe for Homemade Finger Paint (Primary Colors)

Painting is one of the most creatively fun activities for bored kids. Learn how to make your own colorful finger paint with cornstarch and food coloring for creative painting masterpieces!

Blue Paint StrokeFeel like painting with your fingers? Or painting with your feelers? Whatever the case, if you're a kid or a kid at heart, you can enjoy making your own expressive art with finger paints and saving money while you're at it by making your own paints at home. Simply use cornstarch, water, and food coloring and follow the recipe below.

Finger Paint Recipe


1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups cold water
food coloring (red, blue, yellow)
airtight storage container (bowl or jar)


Mix the cornstarch, water, and food coloring in a saucepan and boil until the mixture thickens. Allow paint to cool before storing in airtight container.

Mixing Tips: For color variety, mix up a batch of the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. Other colors can be created from these as needed (see project prompts below).

Optional: Add the food coloring directly to the cornstarch mixture in the storage container instead of while boiling.

Bonus Finger Paint Project Prompts:

Kids and adults alike can enjoy funnin' around with fingerpaints. Plus, dabbling with this simple medium can entice you to try other kinds of painting techniques and canvases such as watercolor, acrylics, painting on furniture and objects, and even on rocks! (See more fun how-to painting topics here.) Here's some ideas and encouragement to get you going:

  • Use Finger Paint Paper: For best results, use the right materials for the medium! Finger paint paper is heavy, glossy, and smooth, and holds the paint much better than other kinds of paper. Most important, it won't wrinkle under the wet paint.

  • Dabble in color: Using the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow, mix your own color wheel or palette of new colors. Mixing red with blue gives you violet. Blue with yellow gives you green. Red and yellow makes orange. Learn more about color here.

  • Go abstract: Finger painting is an excellent mode and medium for abstract expressionism and "letting go" creatively. On a large, blank piece of finger paint paper, experiment with easy strokes and light detail instead of on focused, detailed drawings. Have fun with the process. Make happy mistakes. Discover new techniques for yourself.

  • Painting is an expression of you! Remember that any kind of creative expression you engage in is an opportunity to express outwardly what's within. Embrace the process of learning a new skills, practicing technique, and enjoying what the process opens up in you.

Recipe for Homemade Paper Mache & Paper Pulp

Learn several variations for making homemade paper mache or paper pulp for creative projects and sculptures that can be painted on.

Paper mache makes great modeling material for all kinds of arts and craft projects. It can be formed into sculptures, used for mask-making, and painted.

Several variations for making paper mache (or paper pulp) exist that employ the use of common ingredients such as glue, wallpaper paste, newspaper, and flour. Two common methods are described below.

Traditional Paper Mache


white glue or liquid starch
warm water
newspaper strips


Mix two parts of glue to one part water.

Stir well and the paste is ready to use.

Dip newspaper strips into mixture and saturate before using on project.

Alternative Paper Pulp


newspaper shreds
wallpaper paste
hot water


Combine newspaper sheds and hot water in a bowl and let them soak thoroughly. Next, squeeze excess water out of the newspaper and mix it with the wallpaper paste. Add enough to thicken the paper mache to the consistency of modeling clay. Knead until smooth.

IMPORTANT: Paper mache shrinks as it dries, so make your sculptures accordingly.

©2006, 2018 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

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ColorCreativity Portal™ founder Chris Dunmire inspires artists, writers, teachers and children with her creative prompts and writing activities. She's trained as a creativity coach with both Eric Maisel, PhD, and Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching™ founder Jill Badonsky, MeD. Her sense of humor and witty wordplay is woven throughout the corridors of Creativity Portal where she encourages others towards engaging in deeper, more meaningful levels of artistic expression and playful creativity, sustained in part through the support of Creativity Portal Access Pass Holders. Please sign up — your support counts and is appreciated!

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