Adding Things To Your Polymer Clay

Basket of French, Moroccan and Italian Bread, by Crown Jewel Miniatures

Making Dollhouse Miniature Food From Polymer Clay
With Crown Jewel Miniatures

Adding Things To Your Polymer Clay

Walnut Cinnamon Spice Cake - A Crown Jewel Miniatures Exclusive

Cakes and breads, for instance, do not look real when made with just polymer clay. Even if you shape a beautiful cake, or a perfect loaf of bread, they will still look like a smooth, solid piece of clay once you cut into them. One solution is to cut a slice out and using the tip of a blunt tapestry needle, gently tease the raw clay until it begins to resemble the real thing, or you can improve it by adding ingredients to the unbaked clay to give it texture and this is where your imagination comes into play! There are several ways to texture bread and cake, but let‘s begin by making the simplest form of bread – Italian. For this project we’re going to use air dry clay. Air dry clay has the same light, fluffy-looking texture of bread and cake. The only thing you need to add to it is acrylic paint to achieve a realistic color.

Delight Air-Dry Modeling Compound.

You may use any air dry clay you have on hand, but I prefer Delight because in my experience it is lighter, fluffier and not as tough as Model Magic and not as expensive as Angel, Grace etc. Delight can be found at Michael’s or AC Moore craft stores (print a 40% off coupon from their websites before you go!), and it’s made in Japan by Creative Paperclay Co. Where I live it costs $5.99 for a 3 ounce package- but that makes a lot of minis! It only comes in white but you can add acrylic paint to it for color. You can stamp it, run it through the pasta machine, cut it, pull it apart, make patterns in it, extrude it… almost anything goes!

With Delight (and all air dry clay), you’ll want to break off a small piece to work with and seal the rest in an airtight zipper baggie (squeeze all the air out of the bag before closing it). Delight dries in 1-3 days, depending on how thick your project is and it takes very well to shading with pastel chalks after it dries!

Making Italian Bread

Using a clean tile as your work surface, break off a small amount of air dry clay. Knead it with your fingers a bit and flatten it into a circle and press your thumb into the center to make a small well in the center. Squeeze a few drops of acrylic paint into the well. (This step is not necessary but in my opinion bread is not bright white. I try to simulate the color of flour by adding a few drops of ecru paint). Add a little at a time and knead the color into the clay with your fingers. You can always add more paint if the clay is still too white.

Once you’ve achieved a smooth, uniform color, break off a few small pieces and roll them on the tile into snakes about an inch in length. Roll each end to a blunt, tapered point to give your bread a nice arch. You want the bread to be thicker in the middle.

Using the edge of an old phone, credit or room-key card, make three or four diagonal impressions into the top of your bread. Alternatively you can use a long, thin stick of crumlpled aluminum foil. (I find this created more realistic bread!) Do not use a blade for this because your “slashes” will be too thin and they will look like narrow lines instead of slashes. Take care not to make your slashes too deep. You’re not trying to score the bread, you just want to make the bread appear risen.

Let your mini Italian breads air dry on the tile for a few hours. Now it’s time to shade your bread and if you’re new to making minis it’s best to have an actual loaf of Italian bread in front of you as an example. Beginning with white, brush the centers of your slashes, then use just a touch of golden yellow on the top of each rise in between slashes. Use a light stroke. You want to impart just a hint of color on top. Experiment with natural shades of mustard, rust and burnt sienna and sweep hints of color up the sides, tips and underneath of your bread using a light, swirling stroke. Blend your shades in tiny, subtle circles of your brush, constantly blending so there is a gradual shading of the bread from bottom to top. Take care not to get any color inside your slashes, you want to keep those white.

Once you’re satisfied with your shading, brush on a coat of matte sealer all over (sign the bottom of your breads first unless you plan to display them sticking out of a grocery bag or a bread basket, etc). Voila! Instant Italian bread that you can slice or leave whole. Break or tear a piece off and you’ll see the fabulous, airy texture!

Making A Rustic Boule

For this project we will work with polymer clay. This bread is one of the simplest things you can make but it adds such a homey feel to your mini kitchen. Display it in a pan just coming out of the oven, or with a selection of fruit, wine and cheese. It’s very versatile and your mini lady doll will love it just as much as you do!

Mix together a ratio of 4 parts Sahara (beige), 1 part white, 2 parts translucent and 1 part yellow until you’ve achieved a uniform color. Using a clean tile as your work surface, flatten your clay into a circle and press your thumb in the center to make a well. Pour a little fine craft sand into your well. The sand I use is a natural, neutral color. You can’t detect the color once it’s baked, it just gives texture. It’s a very pale russet color.

Add about half the amount of sand as you have clay, making your ratio at least half sand, half clay. Roll and knead the sand and clay until it’s thoroughly blended. You may have to add more sand… you want to see and feel a stiff texture of the sand within your clay.

Note; if you can’t see the sand throughout the clay, you probably need to add more.

Break off ½ inch balls and lightly press them on your tile, shaping your bread into round mounds, making certain to manipulate them into a dome shape. Make a cross in the top of the bread with the edge of an old credit card, and smooth away any fingerprints with gentle swipes of your fingertip.

Using a clean, sharp and very thin tissue blade, cut a slice out of your bread. Hold your slice of bread very gently in your hand. Take care not to squish it out of shape. Using your other hand carefully tease the cut sides of your bread with the tip of a tapestry needle until you have achieved a realistic crumb. Repeat in the cut-away wedge of your loaf of bread. If a granule or two of sand comes loose that’s fine. You want a craggy appearance.

You can also leave your bread whole and slice it after you bake it. It won’t have as many crags but it looks just as great with the sand for texturing! The choice is yours, either way you will have a very nice boule.

Before you bake your bread, use your artist pastels to shade them. Remember to use a light, swirling touch and to begin with the lighter colors first… from mustard yellow on top to faint brushes of sienna and burnt umber around the bottom edges and beneath.

Bake your bread according to the manufacturers directions on your packet of clay. Remove from the oven and cut a slice or two out of your uncut loaves if desired. Alternatively (and this will take some practice) you can score a slice of bread, barely cutting into the loaf and then pull the slice from the loaf by hand. Sometimes this works beautifully, especially if you want torn chunks of bread but sometimes the boule crumbles. It’s hit or miss… you could end up with a fabulously realistic torn chunk of bread or a disaster. LOL If you made quite a few whole loaves give it a try!

Sign and date the bottom with an ultra-fine point Sharpie marker and seal the whole thing with a light coat of matte sealer. You can crush or pulverize a few dry oats, seeds, herbs, spices, poppy seeds, etc and sprinkle over the top while the sealer is still wet. Just be sure to let it dry and add another thin layer of sealer on top of the ingredients you sprinkled on top to be certain that everything has been sealed and remains intact.

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About - IGMA Artisan Robin Brady-Boxwell

Crown Jewel Miniatures by IGMA Artisan Robin Brady-Boxwell. Fine 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures in ultimate realism! My blog is a compendium of new art, announcements, and advice on creating miniature food for the dollhouse and 1:12th scale shops, stores and scenes.
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