Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Little Crackle Was Gorgeous. Too Much Crackle Was Not.

In the past, people have cracked friendly jokes about my persnickety nature when it comes to creating something new. For example, when I create a new homemade dog treat recipe, I'll try several variations. More of this. Less of that. I examine the finished product carefully before determining, "This is the one!" I do this when I experiment with "hooman" baked goods as well. And, just recently, I did the same thing with our Bodacious Country Crackle Holiday Ornaments. Prior to making these available to the public, I experimented with adding a few swipes of glaze. I'm glad I did.

To back up a bit, over 30 years ago, when I was just a wee lil' kid, my Mom and Aunt made gorgeous salt dough ornaments. They didn't use cookie cutters. They shaped all of the ornaments by hand and each ornament had meticulous details. They made tiny braided bread loaves, coated with sesame seeds, to put in tiny, handmade paper sacks for the Christmas dolls to hold. They also made tiny flower bouquets out of dried flowers.

Once painted, they'd take the ornaments outside and spray them with a super glossy glaze. Back then, whatever they used worked.

Their talent, creativity, and attention to detail, from creating each piece right down to each tiny painted flower hem on the dresses, left me in awe. They sold out at almost every craft show they attended.

During this time, I was allowed to help. I made the dough. They taught me how to make ornaments. Eventually, I started experimenting with making salt dough dangle earrings. I wore them with pride and even managed to sell a few pairs.

Over the years, on and off, I've made salt dough ornaments. The only difference is I never put on the spray glaze. It required a proper ventilation system. Because of that, I always left the ornaments in their original, gorgeous acrylic matte finish.

About a week before offering our ornaments to the public, I experimented. I purchased a brush on glossy coating. After painting and personalizing the sample ornaments, I gave them a thin coat of brush on gloss. The end result was a semi-shiny, crackle coat.

After 48 hours, the gloss coating crackled more. And more. And more. After 4 days, the crackle turned into a cloudy coat. At that point, I was able to chip the gloss coat off with my finger. It had separated from the ornament.

At that point, I tried two more brands of brush on gloss. Same thing. 

My geeky brain wanted to know why. I did a little research. I discovered that the chemicals in the glossy coating was not compatible with salt. In fact, the chemicals pulled the salt from the ornaments. This is what created the overabundance of crackle, cloudiness, and eventual separation of gloss from ornament.

I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I was that I took the time to experiment with sample pieces with several brands. My patience and research paid off. Had I coated all of the ornaments, without experimenting and doing research, all of the ornaments would have been ruined. It would have taken me about 48 hours, no sleep, to make, bake, paint, and personalize a second round of ornaments.

At the end of the day, I decided to leave the ornaments in their natural, acrylic matte finish. I'm in the process of reaching out to those who ordered ornaments so I could inform them the finish would vary from what I had.

Taking the time to do things right pays off. Experimenting pays off. Trial and error pays off. Patience pays off.

Yes. It does.

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