Save your family keepsake.

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A pet's paw. A child's handprint. A personalized gift for newlyweds. A salt dough ornament is more than just a trimming for your Christmas tree: It's a family keepsake. And it's one which, once broken, cannot be replaced. Luckily, they can be repaired, but they'll never look the same as they once did. In order to repair a broken salt dough ornament, it's important to first understand how one's made in the first place.

How do you make a salt dough ornament?

Salt dough ornaments are made by combining common kitchen staples: flour, salt, and warm water. Knead the dough, freeze it, then bake it for several hours and, once cooled, they'll be ready for decorating with cookie cutters, microbeads, craft paint, and glitter for extra sparkle. You can paint a coat of glossy decoupage glue over the entire ornament to seal and protect it, and to give it a shiny finish. You can also spritz it with a light coat of polyurethane spray. Both methods, along with the salt acting as a natural preservative, help to extend the ornament's longevity. Hooks and wire help them to hang securely on the tree's boughs, in a garland, or along the mantel.

What are the best storage methods?

Out of season, store salt dough ornaments as you would store your most prized heirlooms and collectibles: by avoiding heat, humidity, and moisture. If you have multiples, layer them between sheets of wax paper (never tissue, which can stick to them in the heat) and store them in a sturdy box. When handled with care, these ornaments can last for several years. That said, accidents and "oops!" moments do happen.

What do you do if you crack or break your salt dough ornament?

Sadly, it's unlikely that you can repair a salt dough piece to look like it did before, says crafter and longtime Martha Stewart Living contributor Silke Stoddard. Much like trying to repair a baked cookie—you can't go back to the dough the way it was unbaked. Our suggestion? Prevent it from cracking further by filling the fissure with craft glue. You'll want to use an applicator that is bottled with a fine tip to neatly get into the crack, but not have it spill beyond. Then, create a new imprint that will last longer: Use a mold maker kit ($24.99, michaels.com), then fill it with plaster or clay. Depending on how deep the crack is and how well the glue was able to fill it, it may show in the mold. However, this can be sanded off if using plaster or clay.

Another option is to repair the crack to intentionally show by using colored glue, like kintsugi. In Japanese, the word kintsugi means "golden rejoining," and refers to the Zen philosophy of acknowledging flaws, embracing change, and restoring an object with a newfound beauty-which is a lovely sentiment for such a special ornament.

Here's to keeping your treasures pretty and protected for holiday seasons to come.

Comments (2)

Anonymous
December 6, 2020
Thank you so much for the information on how to fix my grandson’s hand print! I was heartbroken when it developed the crack and put it away so it was safe from anymore damage! Hopefully I’ll be able to fix it so I’ll be able to enjoy it once again! Thank you again! Claudia
Anonymous
December 6, 2020
Thank you so much for the information on how to fix my grandson’s hand print! I was heartbroken when it developed the crack and put it away so it was safe from anymore damage! Hopefully I’ll be able to fix it so I’ll be able to enjoy it once again! Thank you again! Claudia