The After-Christmas Hush

I was at a Christmas party this year, when I suddenly realized I could not relate to what the ladies were saying, as we looked gazed upon the charming Christmas tree in the room.  In fact, I held the complete opposite view.

Each person was describing how their children pulled out the made-at-school ornaments, placed them prominently, front and center on the tree, while the moms, moved them to the back of the tree, when the kids were safely out of the room.  There were lots of giggles.

If anything, as I looked at our Christmas tree this year, with some of the boys, already men, I felt that if there is anything our tree lacked, it was tacky, child-crafted ornaments.  There just weren’t enough of them. And I certainly didn’t feel like hiding a single one of them on the back of the tree.

All through the Christmas season, I vowed to find a few ornament crafts that the boys could help make — to help round out the tree.  We could simply throw this activity in along with the cookie baking, caroling, and the shopping.

imageSadly, the time never came. There was no time in the Christmas rush to just sit and create anything.  Until, after Christmas. In the hush after Christmas day, we found the time to roll out the cornstarch dough, may favorite, and softest, pure white dough.

imageWe cut ourselves a “hanging” natvity set, and the boys pressed their thumbs into these starts to create thumbprint ornaments.

Cornstarch Clay, from the Argo Website:
1 cup Corn Starch
1 pound (2 cups) baking soda
1-1/4 cups cold water
1 tablespoon Corn Oil

Combine corn starch and baking soda in a medium saucepan. Add water,oil and food coloring; stir until smooth.

Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture reaches the consistency of SLIGHTLY dry mashed potatoes. (Mixture will come to a boil, then start to thicken, first in lumps and then in a thick mass; it should hold its shape). If Play Clay is overcooked, crafts may crack.

Turn out onto plate and cover with damp cloth; cool.

When cool enough to handle, turn Play Clay onto work surface dusted with corn starch; knead until smooth and pliable. If not using immediately, store completely cooled clay in tightly closed plastic bag or container.

Shape Play Clay as desired by molding into shapes, balls or ropes with hands. Or, roll flat with a rolling pin or press with hands, making pieces of moderate thickness. (Items less than 1/4-inch thick tend to be fragile; very thick pieces often dry unevenly and may crack). Press or etch designs into soft Play Clay. Plan to glue small pieces together (including heads to bodies) rather than press Play Clay shapes together.

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