How to Make Animal Figurines from Salt Dough

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These cute animal figurines are both cheap and easy to make. Salt dough animals are a great kids craft, with the salt dough being totally safe unless eaten in large amounts. With a little imagination it is easy to craft pigs, cows, chickens, and horses as well as other cute salt dough animals.

Things You'll Need

  • Plain Flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Seal-able plastic container
  • Spoons
  • Toothpicks
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Artist brushes
  • Waxed paper
  • Paper plates
  • Glue
  • Mix up the following salt dough recipe to make the animal figurines. Combine 1 cup of plain flour with 3/4 cups plain salt mixing them together well. Slowly add up to 1/2 cup of water till the dough holds together in a ball. Add 1 tablespoon cooking oil and knead the dough repeatedly until it is smooth and supple. If the salt dough is too sticky add some more flour or if it seems too crumbly add a little more water. How much water to add will depend on the humidity. Place the salt dough in a sealable container such as a plastic bag or a plastic bowl with a tight fitting lid. Salt will make metal rust so don't use metal containers, plastic storage containers are best. The dough can be stored at room temperature for two weeks or for longer in the refrigerator for use in other art crafts. The dough will be easier to work with when it is at room temperature. The salt dough should be stiff enough so the animal figurines will hold their shape while drying. To test this take a clump of dough and roll it into a 1 inch ball. Now set the ball on a piece of waxed paper and see if it holds its shape or if it spreads out and flattens any. If it doesn't hold up, add more dry ingredients to the dough. Mix up some flour and salt in the same proportions as before but only a small amount and gradually add it to the dough, kneading it in to make the dough stiffer.

  • To make the smaller pig figurine, first make a ball of salt dough about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Set it on a wax paper lined plate and slightly flatten it and make it oblong in shape with a rounded top surface. Make another ball about an inch in diameter for the pig's head. On what will be the front end of the body make a small flattened area and moisten it with a wet fingertip. Push the head onto the body to attach it, reshape as needed to get the shape wanted. Roll out four log shaped legs and attach them to the body splaying them out. Use a toothpick to make creases in the ends of the legs to look like cloven hooves. Make an round eraser shaped nose and two flattened tear shaped ears. Attach the ears to the back side of the head and shape them as pictured. Two tiny flattened ovals for the eyes finish the face or use glue on craft eyes as pictured. Roll out a long thin snake-like piece of dough for the tail. Moisten the back end of the pig slightly to attach the tail and then arrange the tail in a corkscrew shape. Use a toothpick to move the small pieces and shape them. Make a shallow crease down the back end of the pig to give it "butt cheeks". Making handmade crafts can be so much fun and help kid's imaginations grow.

  • For the larger mama pig figurine, make the body twice the size of the smaller pig. When making larger pieces it is best to use a filler like cotton balls or balls of tinfoil to cut down on weight and drying time. Wrap a layer of dough around two cotton balls and squeeze it to force the air out of the cotton balls. Shape it to an oblong rounded shape, slightly flattened. This pig figurine is laying on her side so the head needs to look up sideways as pictured not forward. The four legs all lay on the same side. Roll smaller balls to make the cute little piglets. Again crease their little butts and make each a little curled tail. The rest of the mama pig is done just like the small pig just slightly larger and positioned as shown. These farm animals can be used as decorations for a farm themed party or room decor.

  • To make the Cows and Horses first make the legs. Roll out a long tube shaped piece about 6 inches long and around 1/2 inch in diameter. Bend it in half to make a "U" shape as shown. Flatten the bottom ends of the legs so they will be able to stand up later. Lay the legs on a wax paper lined plate and shape them as desired. The front set of legs should be flat on the front so the neck and head can be glued to them. The back set should be rounded to look like the animal's behind. Use a toothpick or knife to enhance the groove between the legs. Roll out a single, long, thicker tail for a cow and attach it to the back legs. For a horse roll out several thin pieces for the tail and layer them when attaching to the back legs. Make sure the front and back sets of legs are the same length. For their heads make 1 inch balls and shape them to an oval, peanut shape after placing them on the paper. Look at the picture to see what the shape is like for each. The horse's head is thicker and more rounded on top than the cows. Make indentations for the nostrils. The horse has ears that point up while the cows ears hang down and are larger. For the horse's mane a short piece of brown fuzzy pipe cleaner was glued on the neck. Give the horse long floppy ears to make it a mule. The body pieces for each is a slightly larger ball of dough with a filler in it just as described for the mama pig. The bodies are shaped like a loaf of bread with both ends flattened. The heads, bodies, and legs, are all separate pieces that are not glued together until they are dry. Simply by painting them differently these farm animals can be changed to zoo animals like zebras or gnus.

  • The Chickens and ducks are both made using small balls of salt dough for the bodies and even smaller ones for the heads. Make the feet for each one first and position them on the paper then place the body on top of them so the feet stick out forward. The wings are flattened small ovals, pinched to make the back end pointed. Slightly moisten the sides of the body to attach the wings. The tails are a pointed shape for the ducks and a fan shape for the chickens. Put a flattened bill on the ducks and a pointed one on the chickens. Roll a small narrow piece of dough to place on top of the chicken's head for a comb and use the toothpick to shape it. The duck's feet are left flat while the chicken's are creased to look like toes. If the salt dough starts to dry out while crafting with it, simply put a few drops of water on each piece as it is rolled into a ball. Keep the container covered to keep the salt dough from drying out.

  • Now let the animal figurines dry, which can take several days to a week due to their thickness. They can also be dried in a 200 degree oven for an hour or two. Check on them often to watch for burning. Larger pieces will take longer to dry. They are dry when hard and hollow sounding. The pieces should be painted right after they cool or they will absorb moisture from the air and fall apart later. Water based acrylic paints are ok if not diluted. Be sure to paint all surfaces to seal the piece, even the back side. Look at the pictures to get some painting ideas. After painting and when dry, use some glue to put the cows and horses together. Lexcel glue works well for this craft project. These handmade crafts will last longer if coated with some clear polyurethane or water based varnish. As a kid's craft, making barnyard animals together can hardly be beat.
    Under resources below there are links to other craft articles. Please rate this article and any others you check out, thank you.
    All contents and photos copyrighted by Aupoet.

Tips & Warnings

  • When using salt dough with small children, explain to them that the salt will burn if they get it in their eyes.
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