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Some Relief, Please

February 18, 2009

So my daughter has this project that’s due the beginning of March that’s sending me into a mild panic, because it’s one of those “parent” projects…if you know what I mean. You know the sort–the kind that, if you let your fourth grader complete it entirely on her own, will embarrass and humiliate her well into her forties because every other fourth grader’s parent did their project for them?

It’s a 3D, or relief, map of Virginia, detailing the various altitudes and such of all of the different mountain ranges, showing the myriad rivers and tributaries, and revealing all the major cities and towns in the state, along with several other things I’m not really recalling at this second. When I looked at the directions, my heart sank. Let Autumn write a nice essay about the state of Virginia, and I can help her with that, no problemo. Or maybe a photo-montage of all things Virginia. That would be cool. But this is not exactly up my alley. This involves Craft Supplies and artistry.

So after around a week of procrastinating, I have finally gone online for some help, and have discovered that the way to do this thing is to use salt, flour, and water. We’re not going to be able to wait until the last minute, so we will probably get busy with it this weekend (or maybe we can even turn this into a Grandma Anne affair…that woman is a walking miracle! She used to teach elementary school, too…I bet she will know exactly what to do…:) )

But anyway, here is the plan for creating a relief map. I’ll keep you updated with photos and up-to-the minute reporting as we actually commence working on the project.

Recipe for the Dough Mixture:

1 cup of table salt

2 cups of flour (use all-purpose flour, not self-rising flour)

1 cup of water

What to Do With It:

Mix salt and flour first, then slowly add water. Add and stir until it reaches a nice consistency.

Use mixture immediately–don’t store!

You can add color with food coloring or can paint after it has dried with poster paints. Poster paints will be more vivid.

To make your map, begin with a heavy piece of cardboard and draw an outline of the map. Consult a topographic atlas for help.





Start spreading the mixture in the appropriate areas and build up to the appropriate elevations. Build the relief slowly, letting the layers dry as you go. Use different types of tools–a spreader, butter knife, spoon, toothpick, etc, to help detail the dough to give it the desired appearance.

The relief will take several days to dry completely. When completely dry, paint as desired with poster paints and decorate.

And that’s it. I think I can handle it. Maybe. If anyone has any other great ideas, I am all ears! 🙂

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