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Wednesday, January 30

Finger Labyrinths - Part 1

Here in the House of Mama Stacey, we often hang with members of a UU church about an hour from our home.  They're a lay-led congregation and a really cool bunch of people.  If any Pagan mamas out there are feeling isolated and yet have access to a Unitarian Universalist church, I urge you to check it out as UUs are usually made up of very open-minded folks.  Ours has a healthy number of solitary pagans and spiritualists who attend and so the sabbats and moons are honored right along with major Christian holidays with a few Buddhist celebrations tossed in too.  




This coming weekend, Mama Stacey is hosting an afternoon of Imbolc activities at said church.  A friend is going to lead people in a group ritual and then we're going to potluck and craft.  I am preparing two, maybe three crafts/activities for people, one of which is the creation of finger labyrinths from a simple salt dough.

**UPDATE ON THIS POST: WE FOUND THAT THE SALT DOUGH FLAKED AND WARPED UPON COOLING.  BEFORE WE COULD PAINT OR SEAL THEM THE FOLLOWING WEEKEND, THEY WERE IN VERY POOR SHAPE.  WE LOVE THE IDEA OF THIS CRAFT BUT NEED TO REVISIT IT IN THE FUTURE**

Today I tested out this craft to get the technique down and I wanted to share some of it with you.

To start, I made an easy-peasy salt dough.  Although a little coarse at times, I chose salt dough because it's super inexpensive to make and it can be baked in the oven without stinking up the church hall.

Salt Dough

2 cups cheap, white flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon baby oil

Mix gently until your spoon just isn't doing the trick, then get your hands in there and knead it.  It may feel a bit too sticky/moist and you can either knead it on a floured counter, or let is rest for twenty minutes (it will dry some).

Now, you'll want to to either print out an image of a labyrinth, or draw one.  This will need to be as large as you'd like the finished piece to be.  Peaceful Endeavors offers tutorials on how to draw a Concentric Labyrinth, a Seven Path Labyrinth, a Three Path Labyrinth, and even an Egyptian Labyrinth.  I drew mine on a piece of cereal box and then darkened it with a black marker.  I threw a sheet of wax paper over top so that the dough won't stick to it.  You could alternately use a piece of plastic wrap.

My pattern is missing a loop here, but you get the idea.

If your little one is having a hard time with a labyrinth design, go ahead and just let them use a simple spiral design like those found here.  Of course, labyrinths can be tricky for even adults, so if you're struggling, a spiral can be just as intriguing and beautiful of a creation. 


Now, you're going to want to "snake roll" a bit of dough.  Roll a chunk back and forth between your hands to create a rope or coil.  Next, you will lay these ropes on your wax paper, tracing the design you have chosen.

**NOTE THAT WHILE MY IMAGES SHOW THAT I STARTED FROM THE OUTSIDE,
**IT IS WAAAAY BETTER TO START FROM THE INSIDE.**



As you continue and the coils begin to touch, I found that pinching the dough a bit enhanced the ridges and grooves.



Continue coiling the clay along the lines and pinching.  I used various "tools" (a toothpick & a pencil) to get in the small spaces that my adult fingers had a hard time with.


I worked with a 1/2 cup of salt dough to make this.  It produced a labyrinth about 7-8 inches wide.  I think that when I do this at Imbolc I will have participants use a full cup of dough and aim for a 10 inch or larger labyrinth.  I feel that increasing the size will make it easier to pinch the coils up and make for deeper grooves to trace with your finger when it's all done.


This baked at 300* for 45 minutes.  Larger creations may take closer to an hour.

After baking, these can be painted and glazed.  I have not done this yet, but will next weekend.  Updates to follow!

2 comments:

  1. This is handy information. I am looking for ideas to create my own Finger Labyrinth from either Polymer Clay or Salt Dough. May do both and see which one works better for me. Thank you!

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    1. Esmerelder, I hope your project turned out well. I love making things with my hands. Our dough ended up warped and cracked, but the kids still trace it from time to time. I look forward to revisiting this project in 2015.

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