4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 teaspoon alum
1 1/2 cups water
Cookie cutters, drinking straw, and fine wire (optional)
Clear shellac, acrylic spray, or nail polish
Let's make it
Mix flour, salt, alum, and water in bowl. If dough is too dry, knead in another tablespoon of water. Dough can be colored by dividing it into several parts and kneading a few drops of food coloring into each part. Roll or mold into ornaments. To roll: Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters dipped in flour. Make a hole for hanging by dipping the end of a drinking straw in flour and using the straw to cut a tiny circle 1/4 inch from the ornament's edge. You can also use the straw to cut more clay dots for use as decorations. To mold: Shape dough into figures such as flowers, fruits, animals, and so on. The figures should be no more than 3/4 inch thick. Insert fine wire in ornaments for hanging. Bake ornaments on an ungreased baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 25°F. Turn and bake another 90 minutes until hard and dry. Remove from oven and cool, then smooth with fine sandpaper. Decorate both sides of ornaments with plastic-based poster paint, acrylic paint, or markers. Let dry and seal with clear shellac, acrylic spray, or nail polish. Makes about five dozen 2/4-inch ornaments.