Monday, January 5, 2015

Craft Epiphany

There. The holiday decorations have been returned to storage for another year. Well, for ten months anyway.

You know that song about the twelve days of Christmas? Well, technically, we're still within those Twelve Days which extends from Christmas to Epiphany, which is tomorrow. So let me be the last to wish you one final Merry Christmas.

For the first time in my life, I didn't have a Christmas tree. With two new kittens in the house, I wasn't even going to attempt erecting a holiday jungle-gym strictly for their pleasure. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Although I have to admit it was nice not having the chore of taking a tree down this year, it was still a challenge making sure the house contained the requisite amount of holiday spirit. For help with this I relied on the Crafty Lumberjacks for inspiration. These guys make owning a glue gun hot. I know, glue guns are supposed to be hot. You know what I mean.

So following the lead of my Crafty Lumberjack friends, I'm going to walk you through the holiday craft project that was the centerpiece of my Christmas table...

First make your pattern cut-outs. I used file folders
which had just the right amount of stiffness.

Make your gingerbread dough. You can google the recipe.
I searched for "structural gingerbread". It's still technically
edible. I guess. But, ick.

Roll your dough to 1/4" directly on the parchment paper and use your
patterns to cut out the shapes you need. Don't lift or move the
individual pieces or they'll distort. Leave them right right where you
cut them and lift the entire parchment onto your baking sheet.
The trimmings can be re-rolled to make other pieces.

Bake about 20 minutes to a light golden brown.
It's best to let the pieces cool completely before trying
to assemble. Ideally overnight.

I added powdered cocoa to some of the dough
to create pieces with a contrasting color.

Next whip up some royal icing. Again, you can find the recipe online,
but it's just powdered sugar and egg whites. Most recipes call for
pasteurized or powdered egg whites. But I think part of the thrill of
building gingerbread houses is the risk of salmonella.

Start with the first wall of your structure using the
icing as a structural glue.

Royal icing sets quickly, but don't rush it. Give
each seam a few minutes to bond before moving on.

I use canned goods to hold my walls in place
while the icing solidifies. In the mean time I
move on to my gingerbread men.

Food coloring in water makes a nice paint that
retains the edible quality of your masterpiece.

I thought chocolate cookie crumbs stuck to the icing would make
a nice scruffy beard.

Now I add the finishing touches to my project. Baggies filled
with icing and candies make fun little trash bags. And chocolate
cookies make nice old, abandoned tires.

Now I add the Gingerbread Stevie. 

Ha! Gingerbread Stevie kind of looks like the Abominable
Snowman from "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Wait... What's Gingerbread Stevie doing behind a gingerbread dumpster?