Blog: Innovation Destinations

How to Make an Ammonite Fossil

It all started with a rock collection. I was digging through the storage when I stumbled upon a box that held my childhood rock mementos. I decided my daughter might like it so I got it out for her. She was fascinated by all the different stones; she especially liked the quartz and amethyst. Soon she had me getting books at the library on the subject which led to visiting a gem show. At the show she discovered fossils. And then it started all over again, more books from the library. That inspired me to have her make some fossils of her own. Specifically, we decided to make an Ammonite Fossil. An Ammonite is a coiled fossil shell of an extinct cephalopod mollusk also known as a sea squid.

Salt Dough Recipe

1 Cup Salt

1 Cup Warm Water

2 Cups Flour

Mix flour and salt together. Slowly add the water. You may not need to add all of the water. You want your dough to be pliable and easy to mold, like the consistency of play-dough.

Supplies

Toothpick

Pencil

Acrylic Paint or Nail Polish

Water

Paintbrush

Roll out the dough into a long snake shape. It should be approximately 12” long and wide at one end and taper in at the other, kind of how you would imagine a magic wand to look.

With a toothpick, make small lines on the top of your dough about two thirds of the length. Then use the pencil to make the indents for the rest of the length. Try not to squish your dough when making the indents. You want it to stay in a cylinder shape.

With your finger, rub a littler water on the side of the dough where you see the yellow dots. 

Now begin to coil the dough into a circle. The water will help your dough stay coiled. 

When finished, your fossil should look something like the picture above. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Remember, fossils are millions of years old and often parts of them are worn away or broken. Your imperfect creation will make it look that much more real.

Place your fossil in the oven and bake at 250 degrees for an hour and a half on each side for a total of three hours. You want to make sure your fossil is completely dry before you paint it. If you have the time, let it dry out for a day.

Once your ammonite fossil is now dry, you can now paint it. For our fossils, we painted them with a very light peach paint and rubbed some of it off with a paper towel. Then we added gold nail polish and also rubbed a little of it off as well. Leave a little of the dough showing to give it a more weathered look. For painting inspiration, search online for fossil images or check out a book at the library.

Once you’ve got the hang of making a fossil, experiment with other sizes. Maybe make one as a necklace or see what other kind of fossils you can make.

This post was written by Jessica Okui, author of the craft blog Zakka Life where she shares craft tutorials for all ages. Her crafts have also been featured in Family Fun Magazine, Parents Magazine and the book Hand in Hand to name a few.  Jessica resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two children.