Friday, May 31, 2019

Petit Fours - #FFFriday Guest Post from Helena Mestenhauser!

For this week's #FakeFoodFriday, we have another guest post from Helena Mestenhauser, with a super cute set of petit fours!


Materials: Insulation Foam, Rosco FlexCoat, Extra Heavy Gel Medium w/ stained glass paint
Tools: Bandsaw, sandpaper, brushes, piping tips and bags

These petit fours are very cute but definitely aren't quick: in order to get the very smooth frosting finish I did multiple very wet coats of Roscoe flex coat and let them naturally dry which was at least 24 hours between coats so be prepared for that!

For any piece of sheet cake style pastry I usually start with cubes of foam cut out on the bandsaw. 

Petit fours have a rounded top shape so I hand sanded the top and side edges to help that shape seem a little softer.

Then it was time for coats of Rosco flex coat. Each layer consisted of a painted on full layer of flex coat smoothed over immediately with a coat of watered down flex coat at about a 1:1 ratio. This allowed the flex coat to really stick and create a dimensional layer but the water still allowed it to smooth over nicely over time as they dried slowly. The first coat was just straight up flex coat- no paint to tint.

The second and final coats (for a total of 3 coats) were both colored- the pure flex coat was tinted with both a little bit of cal-tint and with some white paint. The white paint is important, don't forget it! Flex coat dries clear so if you want the petit fours to be pastel in color you have to add white! 

I didn't bother to tint the 1:1 watered down flex coat for this step: it barely holds color anyway so its not worth trying to tint it as well. 

When your petit fours are fully dry, its time to pipe on some lovely flowers! Kate Stack (instagram handle @k8stack) piped these and they really make the petit fours shine. We used extra heavy gel medium with stained glass paint for our piping to give it a little translucency, but really any spackle with paint through a cake tip will do. As with other fake frostings its super easy to use regular cake piping tips and bags and just swap real frosting for fake, and you can do all the same techniques! Our flower technique requires two different tips: a rather flat one for the leaf, and a medium sized ruffle tip for the flower itself. 

Make sure you really let your frosting dry! Move them too soon and you risk accidentally smooshing them. Bon Apetit!


Thanks, Helena!  These look completely delightful.  I love a tiny treat, especially ones that look so delicate.  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Light Apps: Fruit! - #FFFriday

Long time followers of the #FakeFoodFriday hashtag will recognize this week's fruit from when I posted them on instagram over a year ago!  For The Doppleganger at Steppenwolf, we had a three tiered tray of fruits to go with a spread of light apps. These pineapple chunks, orange slices and banana slices were used to fill have the trays to cut down on the amount of real food we put on stage.   I was lucky enough to work on this project with the lovely Emily Feder and Brontë DeShong and we spent A LOT of time making sticky jokes about epoxy.

Materials: Pink insulation foam, bead foam, tissue paper, flex glue, acrylic paint, epoxy
Tools: Olfa knife, paint brushes, acid brushes

For the pineapple chunks, I started out with strips of pink foam and cut them into generic pineapple chunk shapes.  I then covered them with yellow tissue paper and flex glue.

Once they were dry, I brushed a bit of light yellow paint on them for a bit of depth.  Once they were fully dry, they were completely covered in epoxy, because they were used by real food and we wanted them to be washable.  To do this, we used acid brushes and 5 minute epoxy on most sides, let it cure, and then repeated the process on the other sides.  Finally, we gave each chunk a light sand to get rid of any hard edges and knock down the shine a bit. 

The oranges are bead foam, artfully carved into wedge shapes.  We opted for bead foam so they would have a bit of texture instead of smooth sides.  They were then coated in white tissue paper and flex glue, allowing it to wrinkle in places, to form the 'juice sacs.'  (I just googled this and I don't really know how I feel about the name.  'Juice vesicles' also was suggested, but really, that's not much better).  

Once the tissue paper was dry, they got a coat of orange tinted flex glue, that was watered down just a touch.  As a result, the flex glue pooled into the lower areas, leaving white ridges, giving the oranges a great texture!  Shout out to Emily Feder for figuring these out!

They also got a light drybrush of white for highlights.  Then, like the pineapples, we coated them with epoxy and finished with a light sand.  

Mmm... juicy

Banana slices: 
For our bananas, we cut a bunch of circles out of 2" pink insulation foam using an olfa knife, and then sliced it like you would a banana.  They were sanded slightly for shape, then coated with white tissue paper and flex glue.  This was a two step process to get both faces and the sides.  

They then got painted with light yellow acrylic paint and allowed to dry.  Then their center detail paint was added.  We finished them up with a coat of epoxy (the most difficult of the three, in my opinion. Getting the sides was... difficult), and finished with sanding like the other two. 

Did I dig through the whole pile to find one that had a little face?  I sure did.

I almost finished this up with, "and that was that," but this project was quite time consuming due to the epoxy coating.  It's possible we could have coated them with a different sealer, shellac perhaps,  but we were worried that an 8 show/week schedule would be too harsh on them.  Our fruits were washed after every performance.  And of course I didn't get a picture of them all together on their tray, because tech.  There is some real pineapple in our fridge calling my name, and I think it's snack time.  Prop on!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fillable Pie Crust - #FFFriday!

Another quick #FakeFoodFriday this week!  Sadly I didn't take many progress shots of this because I didn't think about it... (always take process shots, friends!)  So this week we have pie!

Materials: Pie plate (ceramic), insulation foam, Apoxie, Glossy Wood Tone Design Master, Shellac
Tools: Parchment paper, rolling pin, carving tools, Olfa knife

For Straight White Men at Steppenwolf, staging called for the guys to be eating a pie straight out of the tin.  Because we didn't want to buy a pie for every performance, we searched for some easier alternatives, especially ones that didn't require baking.

We settled on a crumble top apple pie; a can of apple pie filling and some crumble topping.  Because they wouldn't have time to eat all the pie, we decided to make a false bottom as to not waste too much food.  
I started with a pie pan from stock, and put a 1" layer of insulation foam on the bottom, which I hot glued down.  I then mixed up a bunch of Aves Apoxie Sculpt, which is one of my favorite prop making materials.  It's a two part clay that is also adhesive.  It stays workable for several hours and hardens without baking.  It paints easily, is carvable, sandable and all around great.  
So with my mass of Apoxie, I rolled it out on some parchment paper, which, honestly was pretty awkward, butI wanted to make sure it didn't stick to my table.  Once it was big enough, I draped my pie plate and pressed in my crust. 
(Not going to lie, I definitely channeled all my crust knowledge from The Great British Baking Show into filling my pie plate.)

The designer requested a decorative crust, so I mixed up some more Apoxie, rolled it out and trimmed some thin strips for a plait. It was very difficult to braid long strips, so I did it in small chunks.  I added some more Apoxie leaves to hide where I matched up the braid sections.  For the leaves, I cut out the leaf shape and let it dry a bit and added some veins.  When it was almost dry, I turned the edges up a little bit to give it a little interest.  

When the Apoxie was fully dry, I painted my crust with a generic crust color and then dusted it with our old standby, Glossy Wood Tone.  Because it was being filled with food, I then sealed it with shellac.  Our shellac was a bit old, so it was gloppy and ended up darker than I expected.  

So shiny...

The shine is more than a regular crust would be, but from stage it wasn't too noticeable.  If only my real bakes turned out this nice!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Lettuce! - A Quick #FFFriday from Katie Webster!

This week's Fake Food Friday is quick one, mostly because I just started my summer job in Santa Fe and the lack of air here has made me le tired.  Anna made some lettuce for The Dagwood of Your Dreams, which was awesome and cartoony.  Katie Webster at the Denver Center has a slightly different technique for a different look!

Another fun faux food project with the thin packing foam sheet! My fellow prop artisan Roo Huigen had made adorable seedling sprouts with the translucent packing foam. I thought I could translate her idea into lettuce form when we had to make crates of abundant food for Oklahoma! In this case, I cut loose leaf shapes from a shiny, sheer, synthetic fabric that we had in our fabric stock. 
That was key to the success of this project and saved a lot of time. If you were trying to recreate this exact process, it will depend on the fabric you have access to, and you will have to experiment to achieve the look you want. Look for sheer, somewhat stiff synthetic fabric. Luckily we had green, but a pale yellow or white could work.
 Then I used hot glue to create leaf veins on the fabric leaf. While it was cooling I sandwiched on a layer of the thin packing foam. 

I trimmed the edges of all the leaves, then in a well ventilated area I used a heat gun to melt the fabric and foam. The foam and fabric melt at different times, creating organic ripples and soft curled edges and emphasizing the hot glue 'veins'.

I toned the leaves with various Design Master sprays to maintain the translucent look of the leaves. 

Thanks, Katie!  I'd love to see how this technique looks with different fabric colors, it could make for some very interesting greens.  

Katie is a part of INCITE Colorado and you can learn about them here!  She also contributed a post about some excellent looking conchas and chilaquiles.  

Friday, May 3, 2019

Leftover Pizza - #FakeFoodFriday

Friday is pizza day, the best day of the week!
This leftover pizza was made for Max Bialystock's office in The Producers.  I got to work with my new favorite material, gel wax!  I hope y'all are ready for a lot of pictures, because I went overboard on this project...

Materials: Cake boards, shelf liner, Foamies sheet foam, Jaxsan, thin thermoplastic, Gel Wax, sawdust, Glossy Wood Tone, acrylic paint, machine or mineral oil
Tools: Olfa knife, hot plate & pan, spoon, heat gun, cheese grater (if you have a non-food one)

I started with some wedges of shelf liner laminated to some sheet foam (foamies, fun foam, etc depending on where you buy them), and then coated with Jaxsan, building up a slight crust edge on one side.  

I then painted with acrylic and dusted with glossy wood tone.  I also made pepperonis out of some thin thermoplastic that I found in stock.  

For my sauce, I melted some gel wax and added wax dye for color. I did a lot of sampling on white to see what it would look like when it was dry. I ended up adding some regular white candle wax to firm it up and add some opaqueness.

I also ended up adding some sawdust in hopes to add some tomato-y texture. In the end I should have used more, as it didn't build up as much as I hoped that it would.

I spooned my gel wax onto my pizza slices and let it set.  As you can see, my sawdust didn't add as much body as I thought it would once it was on the slices.  

For the cheese I tinted more gel wax and put it in a mini pie tin to cool.  (I've actually been keeping several of the pie tins around because they're great to use with the gel wax.  They're non-stick so everything peels or pops out and it's super handy.) I used a mix of yellow and brown tints and added quite a bit of white regular wax (really they were old emergency candles because that's what I had). There was also a wedge of yellow wax that was in our materials stock that I grabbed in case I wanted to add a little variety into the cheese.  

I couldn't find a grater in stock, so I shaved my cheese with an Olfa knife and added in the pepperoni slices.  

It's super hard to hold a heat gun and take a picture at the same time

Cooking the pizza!  Which basically entailed me passing a heat gun over the slices until my wax melted again.  i tried not to fully melt all the cheese to keep some of the texture, so I did it in stages.

Previously I had artfully added some machine oil (mineral oil or sewing machine oil also works) to my cake boards to make them look greasy.  I don't recommend using any kind of real veg oil because it can smell.  
I just slapped my slices down, sprinkled some leftover sauce and cheese wax and hit it with a heat gun again.  I tried smearing some of the sauce around as well.  I ended up using the wax to hold the slices on, which was moderately successful.  Hot glue probably would have been more effective, but I didn't have a hot gun handy and was in a hurry (of course).  

I let them cool and off they went to rehearsal.  They ended up stuck in funny places as 'gross' set dressing.  

Though thin crust isn't my favorite, I'd still eat it, because any pizza is better than no pizza... unless it's made of foam and wax, I guess... 

At the time this post goes live I'll be on my way to my summer job in Santa Fe, where I will definitely be eating pizza with green chile at some point.  If all goes according to plan, Fake Food Fridays will continue throughout the summer!  As always, I'm still accepting guest tutorials!


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