Sunday, 27 January 2013

A-Z of Miniature Food Making

Here is an A-Z list of what is involved in my miniature food making. Clearly I've been watching too much Sesame Street of late. I even did Q and Z!

A is for art. I wouldn't describe myself as an artist, but whenever I make something I'm really please with, I think, 'wouldn't my GCSE art teacher be proud'.
B is for blades. One of my most important tools is a sharp blade for cutting both raw and baked polymer clay. My preference is a tissue blade because it's both very sharp and very thin. But sometimes I use refills for stanley knives for projects that don't require such a high level of precision, as these are much cheaper and you can pick them up at any DIY shop. Just watch your fingertips!
Examples of tomato, cucumber and red onion canes.

C is for cane. Lots of miniature food involves making canes. My first canes were things like lemon and lime slices. My more complicated ones include cucumber, tomato and rare beef which also includes the skinner technique. I’d like to make a good strawberry cane in the near future.

D is for dollhouse, the reason I make my miniature food. No-one wants an empty pantry, not even dolls!

E is for experimentation. The only way to learn new techniques (or even invent them!) is to experiment. And more often than not, my first attempts are fairly disastrous. But there's always room for improvement, and one of the reasons I love making dollhouse miniatures is if you get bored of making one particular thing, there are always other techniques and processes to experiment with.
F is for fimo, my favourite brand of polymer clay and most used material. I use it because it is the most readily available in Europe. I prefer Fimo Soft over Fimo classis because I am lazy when it comes to conditioning my clay, but I use a mix of both depending on what colour I need.

G is for grit. Blasted, evil grit. Or fluff, or muck, or whatever you want to call it. I'm always getting mysterious specks in my polymer clay. I think everyone must do, unless you're lucky enough to have an actual scientific clean room as your craft space.

H is for hot, hot, hot. Polymer clay miniatures are hot when they come out of the oven. Who knew? Aparently not me, judging by the number of times I've burnt myself on freshly baked miniature food. I'm just so keen to get a good look at it once it's ready!
I is for inspiration. I get my inspiration from looking at real food and food photography, and wondering if I could do that in miniature. It's fairly common that I'll stop outside a particularly beautiful bakery and start photographing the cupcakes. That can attract strange looks for some reason.
There you go, k is for kiwi.
J is for jewellery, because not everyone has a dollhouse, but everyone deserves an excuse to indulge in miniature food.
K is for kiwi. Can your think of anything better?
L is for liquid translucent  fimo. All sorts of cool results can be found using liquid translucent fimo, from jelly to coffee to icing cupcakes. You can achieve almost any consistency if you have the patience to experiment with it.
M is for miniatures – obviously!
N is for never say never. I'm never making miniature peas again. I made enough for 4 plates of sunday dinner and a side dish, and it took hours and hours and drove me barmy. So that's me sworn off miniature peas. Until the next time I make a miniature that would look really cool with some peas in it. Oh go on then...
O is for oven. Polymer clay doesn't require much in the way of specialist equipment, but you've got to have an oven. And take my advice, don't ever try to save electricity by baking your polymer clay at the same time as you food. It will end badly.

P is for polymer clay. Pretty much the basis for all my miniature food.
Q is for quiet. Unlike many people, I like to work in the quiet. I might be in the mood for some background music occasionally, but often I am concentrating so hard I just find it distracting. I also cannot hold a conversation and make intricate miniatures at the same time, so please don't be ofended when I ignore you. When making miniature food, I become decidedly antisocial.
R is for realism. I like my dollhouse miniature food to look as realistic as possible. I'm not quite so fussy when it comes to jewellery, because realistic often means fragile and it's important jewellery be practical as well as aesthetically appealing. But for my dollhouse minatures I strive for a high level of detail and spend a lot of time looking at food photography.
S is for scale. Scale is important and I didn't fully appreciate that when I first started making miniatures. As long as it was small and cute, I was happy. Nowadays I mostly stick to 12th scale (one inch scale) as this is the most common dollhouse scale. As a result, I can be found obsessively measuring various vegetables from the bottom of my fridge to be sure I've got the scale right!

T is for translucent polymer clay. This non-colour is the secret to realistic looking miniature dollhouse food. I use it in almost everything, even though most of the time you can't tell. It stops your dollhouse food's colour being too bright and artificial looking.
Mmmm lovely miniature potatoes
U is for UFO, which stands for UnFinished Object to the uninitiated. Every crafter, unless you are the most disciplined person in the world, has unfinished objects littering their crafting space, or even beyond. I am no exception. There are cupcakes that need icing, plates of sunday dinner that require gravy, and various pieces of jewellery with no findings because I've run out of glue!
V is for vegetables. Vegetables were some of the first miniatures I ever made and I still enjoy making them now. Especially potatoes! I find them oddly satisfying.
W is for whoops. I create a lot of whoops. Being the wonderful material polymer clay is, a lot of my gone-wrong experiments can be salvaged into something else. Unfortunately not if I already baked them. A lot of tomato canes ended up in the bin before I finally produced an acceptable one.
X is for eXciting (please forgive me!) which is the feeling you get when you've spent ages making a huge cane, and you cut into the middle for the first time, with no idea how it will look, but plenty of hope and eXpectation (sorry I did it again). It's great when something recognisable appears from within a cane.
Zzzzzzz, I can make these green beans in my sleep!
Y is for yes I can, in reply to the question, can you make that? Well maybe not right this minute, but I can learn how to. I taught myself how to make miniature food from scratch by practicing a lot. I used to think I would never be able to make anything that looked half decent, but after lots of trying, it gradually got better. So now when I think, there's no way I could manage that, I am making more of an effort to push myself and try. Thus my New Year's Resolution to try to make at least one new and different thing each month.

Z is for zoning out, which I often do when making something repetitive such as squillions of tomato stalks, beans or peas. It's a great way to relax when you've had a busy day and your head won't stop buzzing.


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