How to: make a salt dough nativity scene

When sleet and snow keep you all in the house, and cabin fever threatens to rear its ill-tempered head, salt dough is a quick and easy way to keep everyone quiet for hours. At this time of year it seems most appropriate to compose a nativity scene:

Recipe (makes enough for the nativity below)

Two cups of plain flour
One cup of salt
Between ¾ and one cup of warm water


Sift together the flour and salt
Add the water slowly, stirring as you go, until the mixture forms a ball
Knead for ten to fifteen minutes on a lightly floured surface
(If the dough is too sticky, add more flour and salt, in equal measure)

Dab with water as you model, to avoid cracking

Once you have made your nativity characters (mine all started with a cylinder and got squidged accordingly from there), put in a pre-heated oven for three to four hours at 100 celsius (212 farenheit). Or, if you’re lucky enough to have an Aga, about ten minutes in the hottest oven should do the trick.

Check in the oven regularly – the shapes burn easily, but need to be brittle to touch, and not squeezable

Allow to cool and get painting – I used normal acrylic paint, and glitter to give the three kings and Gabriel a bit of a sparkly edge.


 Alice’s nativity scene – composed while snowed in in West Sussex