Friday, February 22, 2019

Fake Food Friday - Worbla Dumplings - Guest Post by Helena Mestenhauser

It's time for our first #fakefoodfriday guest post!  These Worbla Dumplings come from Helena Mestenhauser, and are giving me a mighty food craving...

Take it away, Helena!

Materials: Worbla, upholstery foam, gloss sealer, acrylic paint, gel wax, glossy wood tone
Tools: scissors, heat gun, hot plate

The process for worbla dumplings is actually really simple, if you have a heat gun and some upholstery foam scraps. All you need is to cut circles of the right size out of the worbla, heat the circle, and proceed as if you were filling real dumplings with pieces of unevenly torn upholstery foam. 

The worbla can get too hot and get kind of melty- just wait a second for it to cool back down again without touching it and it will solidify back into something usable. If it's burning your fingertips it's too hot, and you can always reheat it so I usually let it cool a little before trying again, but getting the hang of worbla heating and forming takes knowing how it should "feel" so if you've never used it before, practice on a scrap piece.

If you've never done dumplings before the process is really simple: 
1. put some filling in the center of the now pliable circle. 
2. fold the circle in half over the filling. 
3. press the two sides closed and together with your fingers (or a fork, if you happened to be making, say, calzones). (If you're now thinking about Ben Wyatt, same.  -Aimee. )

4. (and this is the bonus step you do with the prop but not a real dumpling) tug the ends a little towards the middle of the dumpling, so that they have a more realistic and varied gather/ruffle to the edge.  Basically its easy for something as solid as worbla to stay in a perfect half moon shape at this point- and real dumplings definitely have a little more variety.

Then, on to the paint process. If I recall correctly, I did a solid coat of almond spray, and then brought them in for a hand brushed process. 

The first layer was a glaze (gloss sealant with a little bit of orange paint in it), which I let pool in various places of the dumplings strategically to give it that "tossed in oil" shine. 

Then I added three consecutively browner and heavier glazes. This method gives the gradient a little more of a natural vibe, and it looks more like someone pan-fried these dumplings 

 Also, my trick for any prop that needs color but can't look like someone applied that color, is to brush the paint on and then dab at it with a dry rag while it's still wet until it looks right. This gets the paint to smudge into the edges and leaves it with a natural feel. 

Of course we immediately discovered that they didn't want dumplings: they wanted samosas, so I got to go back and make more filled dumpling treats. Samosas are a little more complicated to fold but they have the same basic idea: fill the center and wrap the worbla around it. In this case, real samosas are actually a much thinner dough wrapped four times around the filling, but the worbla was too thick to have that turn out well, so I truncated the shape and hid the pressed edge in the presentation on the plate. I've traced my fold lines in this photo in Photoshop so you can see what I did. 

I've also circled the end of the fold over in this photo so you can see where the folds landed. 

The other trick with folding the samosas was to be careful that the corners of the triangles stay crisp and don't elongate; they had a tendency to push against each other to make ears instead of points. Usually I was able to catch this and gently nudge them back into place before they cooled, and remember you can always reheat worbla to reshape it, so if it cools weird its not the end of the world. 

The paint process for the samosas was a lot simpler than dumplings: since the worbla was already a good brown color I just hit them with a little of our best friend, Glossy Wood Tone (Design Master spray) to give them that good, deep fried sheen. Since samosas are deep fried I didn't need to add the gloss to the paint process that I needed for the dumplings.

The dipping sauce was just a heatable gel wax, which forms a nice solid sauce with a good sheen, is pourable when hot, and cools to a sort of jello-like texture. 

Of course, mortite these down to the tray for minimal spillage and you're good to go! 

I don't know about ya'll, but I think I need some fried dough pockets.  I don't have any experience with Worbla, so this was a great tutorial for me as well!  I'd apologize for the Ben Wyatt gif, but I'm not sorry. 

There will be an upcoming post about Gel Wax, as I've recently done a bunch of food with it, and it's so great.  

Thanks for your great tutorial, Helena!  You can check out her other projects over at  Happy FFFriday!


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