Anna, Studio

One DIY a week: Salt dough houses as lanterns

by Anna

Handmade salt dough houses
Handmade salt dough houses

Salt dough seems to dislike me, still I am happily battling with it. And once more it was worth the fight. I first saw little houses as lanterns on Chez Larsson (where I cannot find them anymore, this might be it in the first picture) and then I found them at Depot for whatever reason I decided not to spend 3 euros to buy. And then I asked myself why? more than once when I started making these. Still, as the photos can tell, it was totally worth making them and I will appreciate them all winter long, if not even all year round.
A handmade salt dough house lantern
A handmade salt dough house lantern

You’ll need
one large cup of salt
two large cups of flour
some water

Mix the dry ingredients and add a little water. Stir some, and add water until you’re fine with the texture.

Cutting a lattice window
Cutting a lattice window

Divide the dough in half and roll out one half with the rolling pin, preferrably directly on parchment paper or a baking mat. I was aiming for 0,5mm (1/4 inch) of thickness. With a regular knife cut a rectangle of 8×5 cm for the big house floor. For the sides cut the same length and make them 6 cm high. Make windows by pushing the knife tip into the dough four times forming a square and take out the little pieces. Four of these make a lattice window.
Parts for a big salt dough house
Parts for a big salt dough house

The narrow side of the house will be 5 cm wide. Cut 6 cm on the sides but not on top and make it go up to form the roof ridge in the middle. Here you can determine how steep you want your roof to be. According to the slanting side on this part you will cut your roof. It has two pieces again and the lenght will be the same (better a little bigger) than the 8cm floor and house sides.

The narrow side of my house got narrow windows and a triangular attic window. Opposite this I imagined the entrance to be and marked the floor “home”. I carved roundish roof tile for this house.
Small house parts
Small house parts

The small house is 5x5x5 cm, the lattice windows are the same as in the big house. And then I played around on the details. Once everyting is cut out, let the pieces cure over night. Turn them around after a couple of hours. Mine cured a little over, um, two weeks? Well, no time to work on them. So assembly was a little harder than with dough that still has a soft core.

I assembled the big house using salt dough leftovers. Those were still moist after all that time because I had covered them with a wet cloth. I made little rolls of salt dough and stuck together the lower parts of the house. It takes a bit of fumbling and I have cracks because my dough wasn’t flexible anymore. Adds to the charm, doesn’t it? I let dry again overnight until I added the roof with the same technique. Later that day I smoothes edges and cracks somewhat with more dough. It’s still a rough textured house…

Lantern houses
Lantern houses

The small house I decided to assemble with all purpose glue. And it worked like magic. Still I minded the same curing times, just to be safe.

Then my friend acrylic paint could have entered the scene. Except that I decided to skip it this time and let the houses be au naturel. And I love it! I imagine the paint could make the walls more opaque, so if you prefer that look give it a try. I like the translucence a lot. Have a good fourth of advent weekend! Christmas is almost upon us!

Be aware: Please use electric tea light candles in the houses. I used natural only for the photos and they already started to burn the roofs inside. Please be careful!


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