Holidays & Seasons,  Home Decor

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament

That’s right. The title says it all. I’m veering away from traditional ball ornaments this year (don’t worry, we do have several) and trying something new to remind us of the years we lived by the ocean. So, we made salt dough starfish for our Christmas tree and they are looking quite lovely, if I do say so myself.

Warning: this post is pic heavy. If you don’t like photos, then do not proceed. Just kidding. Who doesn’t like photos?

Salt Dough Starfish

Overall, we enjoy our main tree being pretty neutrally decorated and have chosen a lot of natural-esque kinds ornaments such as white feathers, spray painted pine cones, silver snow flakes and metal rain drops. (Those occur in nature, right?) It seemed only natural to add starfish to this grouping. And we made them from items we already had in our home. Major bonus!

I started out with 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of water and threw that into a bowl to make my salt dough.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 2

Next, I mixed it all up.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 3

Grabbing a chunk of the dough, I rolled it into a ball and squished it down on a floured surface.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 4

Then, I used a White Finger Starfish that I already owned to measure where the legs would go and marked it with the pointy end of a skewer. (Skewers are the perfect tool for this project, but a toothpick, a pencil, or a fork could totally achieve the same results.) If you don’t have a starfish to use as a template, you could totally eyeball it or download a starfish template from the inter-webs. Where there is a will, there is a way…

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 5

Using the skewer again, I cut out the triangular pieces between each leg piece.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 6

The legs were then smoothed out and received a little extra piece at the end to make them longer.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 7

Don’t worry. This next photo is not some weird starfish mating ritual. I was just checking the dimensions to see if they were similar. Not perfect, but good enough! Sidenote: No echinoderms were harmed in the making of these ornaments.

Salt Dough 
Starfish Ornament 8

After the salt dough starfish was whole, I again used the pointy end of the skewer to poke tiny holes all over the legs and body…

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 9

And the blunt end to make a hole at the end of one leg for some string to go through.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 10

When all of the starfish are finished, bake them in the oven at 200 degrees for a couple of hours until dry. Or leave them out on the counter to dry overnight while you get your sleep on.

I noticed, once mine were dry, that they looked a bit more like the color of first morning urine than the original white I was trying to emulate.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 11

So, I grabbed some white acrylic paint and water and brushed them on the fronts and backs of each sea star. Looks better, no?

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 12

Finally, the paint dried and the starfish were ready to hang on the tree.

Salt Dough Starfish Ornament 13

I know it isn’t perfect, but doesn’t it look pretty realistic? You can’t even tell that it is salt dough if you are standing more than a foot away from the tree. And the fact that it cost me a whole lotta nothing was the best part. That is always the best part.


  • MiMero228

    WOW, well done! Looks great, you really captured it’s look. It’s so good, I may want to give it a try. I don’t have a starfish to use as a model but, I think I could just use your picture and it might work. Thanks for posting this so fun project.

  • Susan

    Your pictures look great. I think I could do this, I too do not have a starfish, but your pictures are so clear that I believe I can use it as an example. Thank you for your detailed pictures.

    • Stephanie Anne D'Onofrio

      Simply Amazing that you can actually may see stars out of salt dough without having to kill a live creature. I’m going to have to try this. Thanks

  • Barb

    Thank you so much for your pictorial explanation on these starfish. I tried to make them last night with my 5 year old grandson and they all ended up breaking cause I was rolling the legs separate and trying to meld them together and in the meantime, my grandson was having a ball using up the rest of the dough with the cookie cutters I had bought. And yours are pretty close to perfect. Beautiful, in fact. I hope I can achieve this!

  • Barb

    Hi Erin,
    Quick question: Why didn’t you make your dough circle bigger to accomodate the length of the starfish legs; so you didn’t have to add any dough to the legs after? I just know this step is going to trip me up and I’m gonna have E.T. knobby ends on my starfish, lol. I was able to find two different sizes of pencil starfish today at AC Moore and if I can skip this step, I think I’ll be good to go.

    • Erin

      Hi Barb,
      Honestly, this was a fly by the seat of my pants kind of project. If I were to make more of these, that is definitely something I would take into consideration. Feel free to make your own dough circles bigger, if that will make this work better for you! Hope that helps and let me know how it turns out!

  • Debra Hendriks

    How about a toothpick where legs come from body? I need to make MANY…and would prefer them to stay together…eek ! Lol

    • Erin

      Hi Courtney,
      I believe I was able to get 8 or so out of this batch, but the size of the starfish used as a template would really determine how far you could make the dough go. Hope that helps!

  • Sunny

    Awesome idea! Going to try this tomorrow. Quick Q – You mentioned using white acrylic paint and water to brighten it up. Went mix water to the paint? And any particular ratio of paint to water mixture? TIA

      • Erin

        Hi, Sunny! The original color of the dough was pretty yellow-y and I wanted to brighten it up a bit, but not make the starfish a stark white color. By mixing a 2:1 ratio of paint to water, the effect was essentially a whitewash, which brought the color closer to the natural starfish. I hope that helps!

  • Ann

    I’m going to try this project this afternoon. Your photos are well done and make it easy to follow the simple procedure. I was just about to order a starfish cookie cutter off the internet, but I like your idea so much better. They’re beautiful.

    Will send a photo with the results.

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