Dough Sculpting

Dough Sculpting
Dough Sculpting

Bread Dough Sculpting - Step by Step Instruction

Instruction: Baked dough creations painted in bright colors can easily pass for ceramic.

The finished pieces, baked in a kitchen oven until they are dry and hard. They can be left unfinished or painted with acrylics or enamels. Dough mix that needs only the addition of water is available from hobby shops.

Proportions in basic dough recipe make sufficient dough for one sculpting session. Dough turns gray if stored more than a few days.

Basic Dough Recipe:

1 cup flour; 1/4 cup table salt; 6 tablespoons water.

NOTE: The project in this tutorial is a bit more advanced. If this is your first attempt at dough sculpting, we recommend that you try some simple projects first. Try using cookie cutters and bringing the shapes to life by shaping them into figures or plumping them up. Then practice painting them as well. This is an inexpensive craft so have fun with it.


1. Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Add water slowly, mixing continually with hands or pastry blender. Dough will seem stiff and crumbly at first but do not add more water. Knead thoroughly until dough is pliable. If it seems too stiff for modeling after about fifteen minutes of kneading, work in a little more water a few drops at a time and knead well after each addition. When dough is pliable, place in a plastic bag.

2. Take out as needed for each part of sculpture and keep the rest of dough in bag--it crusts quickly when exposed to air. Dough can be made into small plaques; or pieces can be mounted on a background, such as a board or cardboard covered with felt, velvet or burlap. Make flowers or other shapes to glue to earring caps or pin backs- possibilities are numerous.

3. Owl plaque is easy to make and a good piece on which to learn basic techniques. Try a board approximately 7 x 9 inches. Cut a dry branch in proportion to board; glue in place. When glue is dry, give branch and board a coat of clear plastic finish.

4. Make an owl pattern in proportion to branch and board. Cut pattern pieces of different parts-body, breast feathers, eyes, tail. To give a rounded shape to owl's body, mound wadded aluminum foil about 1/4 inch high at center and tapered at edges. Form mound into same oval shape as body pattern, but somewhat smaller. Pinch off a piece of dough approximately size of a walnut. Work it between fingers until it is completely pliable. Roll it into an oval shape, then flatten to same size and shape as body pattern. Cup dough at center and drape it over foil mound. Tuck dough under edges of foil. Supporting foil mound will remain under body after baking.

5. On a smooth, flat surface, roll out some dough until it is about thickness of piecrust. Lay paper patterns for two chest features and tail on dough. Cut around outline of each piece with a paring knife.

6. Moisten back side of larger chest feathers piece and lay it across body about one third the distance down from top edge of body. Moisten back of other feathers section and lap it over first feathers section. Smooth down top edge.

7. To make eyes, flatten balls of dough to paper pattern size. Use a toothpick or a sharpened dowel to indent eyeball, and ruffle of feathers around them. Moisten backs of eye pieces and press them onto body. Shape beak and ear tufts and cement to head with water.

8. Place owl carefully on board, against tree branch. Shape feet and place on body so owl appears to be sitting on branch, but do not press feet onto branch. Make tail piece fit pattern and try it for size below the branch, so that it appears below branch. Carefully remove owl and tail from board and place on a foil covered cookie sheet.

9. Brush owl with evaporated canned milk to bring out accents of indentation in nicely browned shading. Bake in a 300° oven until hard and rigid. Baking time depends on thickness of dough; average time is 1 hour.

10. To keep baked salt-dough pieces from absorbing moisture and becoming soft, they must be sealed in some way.

Dough plaques are engaging for children's rooms. A coloring book is a good source of patterns; cut drawings apart to make patterns.

Dough mushrooms are easy to make and can be mounted on plaques or used in other ways. Pinch off a wad of dough, roll it into a ball and shape over tip of thumb. Flatten one side just a bit so it won't roll, and place it on foil-covered cookie sheet. Roll stem into a pencil shape; twist it or indent it with a toothpick. Moisten inside of cap and top of stem and fit the two pieces together. Place on cookie sheet, glaze with canned milk and bake.

You may paint your creations when completed with bright colored enamel or acrylic paints. ENJOY!