Monday, August 1, 2011

My Hero the Hoagie, a Submarine tale.

So, it is possible that some of you may noticed that I haven't posted in a while. Yup, the summer got away from me. To make it up to you, and long post about a long sandwich. Enjoy.

When you think Opera, you think elaborate sets, elegant costumes, tremendous music, and giant hoagies.  Well, maybe you don't, but the good people putting on 'The Last Savage' sure do. When our Master Craftsman was going through the to-do list, and said 'four foot hoagie' I volunteered immediately. Well, okay, by volunteered, I mean that I squeaked like a chipmunk and clapped my hands. It worked, I got to make the sub. It ended up being only a three foot hoagie, in order to fit in the trunk, but who am I to question?

So, what do we need to make a sub? Well, in this case bread, lettuce, tomato slices, cheese, ham, turkey, and olives, or, actually, reasonable facsimiles thereof.  Let's start with the bread. I used upholstery foam to make the bread, and I learned a few new tricks while I was doing it.
The first trick is a way to keep your Olfa blade sharp while carving foam. I heard about it a while ago, but didn't really put it to the test until this project.  The trick is simple, just put a little bit of oil onto your blade, I used the oil that we use to lubricate our industrial sewing machines.  This keeps the blade sharp, which makes the cuts cleaner.  The second trick is to use a tool called a curry comb to carve the foam.  The curry comb's sharp teeth carve the foam well, but they can also leave grooves in the foam- so beware.

Once the bread was carved, I coated the foam in some old liquid foam latex that we had laying around the shop.  The dark color actually ended up being perfect for the fresh baked bread look. I love it when that happens!

So, next up would be toppings.  I haven't yet found a good way to make fake lettuce, so when I need lettuce, I just go for the commercial stuff.  I wanted to secure the toppings together, so I cut a piece of canvas, and stapled the lettuce leaves to the fabric using an office stapler.  Quick, easy, and effective!  As for tomato slices, this time I went commercial there too.  I grabbed some fake tomatoes from our stock, and sliced them with a bear saw.  Since the other toppings were covering the tops and bottoms of the tomato slices, and only the edges were showing, it wasn't necessary to paint the top and bottom.

Then, for the cheese! Now, as I am from Wisconsin, you all know that I'm pretty serious about my cheese. That's why this sandwich has two types of cheese, provolone and cheddar.  Both are cut from fun foam, that stuff you buy in sheets at the craft store. The foam is pretty good for the cheddar, but a little too opaque for provolone. Again, the fact that the provolone will be mostly covered is helping me get away with this.
Oh, as you can see, I used a plastic lid to trace the circles out. Resourceful!
Cheddar is better.
So, next up, ham!  I really wanted to use materials that were already available in the shop (the budget was tight this season) and I also wanted to get the prop done in a reasonable amount of time. Now, I've made ham slices before (see Hammy Sammies) but that process was pretty time consuming, and I wanted to bang this bad boy out.  Luckily, we had some pinkish fabric in stock that worked really well as thin sliced ham.  I cut the fabric into ovals, and hit the edges of each with a brown Sharpie to give it a rind.


The turkey slices were also fabric from stock. We had some light colored spandex that was just the color of deli sliced turkey. Again, I cut the fabric into circles, but I rolled these cold cuts into tubes to give some variety to the sandwich.

Now, you maybe be asking yourself 'Self, what are those bits of ethafoam rod doing on that sandwich?' Well, I'll tell you. Once the ham and turkey made it onto the sandwich, the weight of the 'bread' was pressing down on them, and the were losing their shape.  I cut short pieces of ethafoam rod, and carefully glued them (with low temp hot glue) into some of the turkey rolls and ham folds.  It boosted the sandwich slightly, but was not easily seen.

Assembly was mostly done with low temp hot glue.  It wasn't my first choice, because I was worried about it degrading in the heat, but it was the only thing I could find to stick to everything.  Everything was glued to the lettuce/canvas staple combo in order. Then, I used a contact adhesive similar to green glue (3M Fastbond) to attach the bread to the fillings. It wasn't a perfect adhesive, but it did seem to work.

For good measure, I decided to add a mechanical fastener as well.  I used a tufting needle and monofiliment to tie the sandwich together at four places. That's what the olives on top are for!  Each one is a wooden bead that I used as a tie off point. Then I stuffed the ends with plumber's epoxy (paper clay is lighter and cheaper, but takes longer to dry. No time!)  and painted them to look like olives.  Tips for tufting a sandwich? Wear safety glasses and use a leather tufting needle. The blades will help you cut through the foam more easily.

So there it is, WAH-LAH, as they say in France. Want more? Okay, one more pic, just for you.
My boss enjoying the sandwich.


  1. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it.

    Safety Equipment

  2. hi! i was reading your blog and i saw that you worked at MKE! i worked with Erik Lindquist this summer at Glimmerglass Festival, would you mind telling him hi for me (shane dreher) when you see him! and thanks for all the great tips- love them all!

  3. Yea Anna, I know you carved the bread out of foam, coated it in latex, used commercial lettuce and tomatoes, made cheese out of craft foam, made meat out of fabric, glued the whole thing together and as a backup stiched it together with olives as tie offs, but could you provide more details about it?

  4. I just came across your blog today and I think your job is so awesome!!! I have just been making some felt foods recently and had fun and received lots of compliments for it. But you're creating more believable-looking fake stuff of all sorts and I think that's just amazing. I can't wait to read more of your blog entries and learn lots of techniques along the way. :-)

  5. Hi, I just stumbled across your blog...amazing stuff you create! I need to make a tomato surprise for an upcoming show I'm doing and thought it would be easiest to make it using fake tomatoes. I see you keep referencing commercial tomatoes from your stock and I was wondering where you get them from. Thanks! :)

    1. Beckie,

      You can get them lots of places! Craft stores are often a good bet, especially Hobby Lobby or other bigguns' like that. Otherwise, floral supply places are worth a try. If those fail, the good old internet is the way to go. Hooray for Google!


    2. Thanks Anna, I'll do some checking around. I did look at Hobby Lobby and found the perfect item, I was just hoping you might have a less expensive option. One last question. Any thoughts on making fake tuna or chicken salad for a sandwich?

  6. thank you for sharing these lil' ideas love it now I wanna have a go it looks like so much fun absolutely brill!!!



props (35) fakery (31) faux (25) food (25) fakefoodfriday (24) theater (24) Fake Food Friday (22) cake (10) foam (9) kitchen (9) caulk (7) Albert Herring (6) casting (6) insulation foam (6) opera (6) Design Master (5) Smooth-On (5) booze (5) desserts (5) drink (5) edible (5) jaxsan (5) microfoam (5) molding (5) acrylic (4) carve (4) ham (4) resin (4) acrylic caulk (3) beverage (3) candy (3) cheese (3) cocktail (3) dressing (3) fruit (3) latex (3) model magic (3) period (3) upholstery foam (3) urethane (3) vintage (3) Helena Mestenhauser (2) Ilana Kirschbaum (2) Sarah Heck (2) acrylic paint (2) appetizers (2) brownie (2) casserole (2) chocolate (2) confection (2) decorating (2) dial (2) ephemera (2) fish (2) flower (2) foam sheet (2) gel wax (2) hot pour vinyl (2) leg (2) link (2) mocktail (2) mother mold (2) pies (2) pizza (2) reference (2) research (2) safe (2) salt dough (2) sandwiches (2) tutorial (2) wrappers (2) Canapes (1) David Russell (1) Dowel (1) Dragonskin (1) Ellie Bye (1) FX (1) Flex Foam-It (1) Fritos (1) Introduction (1) JT Ringer (1) Jess Smith (1) Keli Sequoia (1) Materials Monday (1) Oona Tibbetts (1) Poultry (1) Sara Pool (1) Serena Yau (1) Skylight (1) Smoothcast 325 (1) Turkey (1) Victoria Ross (1) Wonderflex (1) Worbla (1) alcohol (1) alginate (1) apoxie (1) aspic (1) banana (1) bead foam (1) bread (1) bundt (1) cabbage (1) carnation (1) cellophane (1) champagne (1) cheesecake (1) cherries (1) chilaquiles (1) citrus (1) clear (1) coat (1) coke (1) cola (1) contact adhesive (1) cork (1) cotton batting (1) cream (1) drinks (1) dumplings (1) fake steam (1) faux mex (1) flexcoat (1) fondant (1) fruit salad (1) glass (1) great stuff (1) gum paste (1) hands (1) herring (1) hors D'ouevres (1) icing (1) intern (1) joke (1) katie webster (1) kolache (1) labels (1) lettuce (1) life casting (1) liquid (1) martinis (1) marzipan (1) meat pie (1) menu (1) mini fogger (1) mini mister (1) nougat (1) olive (1) olives (1) oranges (1) pan dulce (1) paraffin (1) pastries (1) pastry (1) peas (1) petit fours (1) pickled herring (1) pie (1) pie crust (1) pineapple (1) prosciutto (1) punch (1) restaurant (1) samosas (1) sculpey (1) shrimp (1) small pastries (1) snacks (1) soda (1) sorbet (1) spilled (1) stage effects (1) sugarplums (1) sweetmeats (1) sweets (1) taco (1) tomato (1) tuna (1) tv dinner (1) vacuform plastic (1) violets (1) wax (1) welcome (1)