Salt Dough Portrait

Create a funny portrait sculpture using salt dough in this shapes-learning craft.
Salt Dough Portrait craft


  • Salt dough or self-hardening clay
  • Shape molds (cookie cutters, play dough molds
    or pieces from a shape sorter toy)
  • Styrofoam board
  • Craft knife
  • Poster paint
  • Paint brush
  • White glue
  • Spoon
  • Small decorative materials: sequins, small
    craft foam shapes, beads, etc.

Safety Tips

  • Keep the craft knife out of young children's reach.
  • Small craft materials such as beads and sequins are choking hazards. These are not suitable for children below the age of three.
  • Watch out for this sign Ask for an adult's help.. It means adult help is needed for the particular step.


Step 1 Salt Dough Portrait Ask for an adult's help.1. Make salt dough. Divide it into four batches - one uncolored and three colored. For convenience, you can use commercial self-hardening clay or air dry clay instead of salt dough.
Step 2 Salt Dough Portrait 2. Mold the uncolored salt dough into basic geometric and fun shapes such as circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, ovals, stars, hearts and diamonds. Use shape molds such as cookie cutters, play dough molds or shapes from a shape sorter toy.

If no shape molds are available, shape the dough with your hands.
Step 3 Salt Dough Portrait 3. Make a minimum of 6 shapes. Set the shapes aside to air dry. Typically small salt dough pieces will dry in 1 to 2 days.

Meanwhile, wrap, label and keep the colored salt dough in the fridge.
Step 4 Salt Dough Portrait 4. Once the shapes are dry, choose 6 of them to use for your salt dough portrait's facial features: 2 similar shapes for the eyes, 2 for the ears, and one each for the nose and mouth.
Step 5 Salt Dough Portrait 5. Paint the shapes and set aside to dry.
Step 6 Salt Dough Portrait 6. Cut Styrofoam board or any sturdy board into the portrait's background (more or less around 10 in. x 7 in.).

Take out the colored salt dough out of the fridge. To make the portrait's face and arms, divide the first color of dough into 1 big piece and 2 smaller pieces.
Step 7 Salt Dough Portrait Ask for an adult's help.7. Roll the big piece into a ball. Position it on the upper portion of your background and gently flatten it by pressing down with your palm so that you come up with a flat round shape (like a small pancake).
Step 8 Salt Dough Portrait 8. Take the second color of salt dough and mold it into your portrait's shirt.
Step 9 Salt Dough Portrait 9. Roll the 2 smaller pieces of the first colored salt dough into long shapes and add them to your portrait to make the arms.
Step 10 Salt Dough Portrait 10. Place the painted geometric shapes on your portrait's face to make two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth. Gently press each piece into the dough.

Glue on sequins or small craft foam/paper shapes for the irises.
Step 11 Salt Dough Portrait 11. Use the third colored salt dough to make the hair. Make an interesting hairstyle for your portrait. You may use a spoon's handle to pat and mold the details on the dough.
Step 12 Salt Dough Portrait 12. Embellish the shirt and hair with small craft foam shapes, sequins, beads or buttons. Gently press each one into the dough.
Step 13 Salt Dough Portrait 13. Allow your salt dough portrait to air dry. It will typically take 2 to 3 days for the dough to dry completely. Don't be surprised if the sculpture comes off from the background. You may glue it back on with white glue or keep the sculpture as is. Either way, it looks pretty cool!

Another thing you'll notice is that after a few days the colored salt dough tends to look dull. Once the dough has completely dried, you can apply a coat or two of clear acrylic sealer to keep out moisture.