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Monday, February 23, 2015

Apples for 18” Dolls


This week we are going to make some apples. In the video I show you how to make both a whole apple and one cut into wedges. This really isn't as difficult as you might think. I take you step by step through the process.

I really do encourage you to have an apple right on the table near where you are working so you can refer to it as you make your doll size apples. I will repeat this instruction with a lot of the foods that I have you make. I know we have all looked at a bunch of apples in our lives but I still like the have the real thing there to be my model every time I make them in clay. I think the fact that we are all very familiar with what apples look like it is even more important to do this. We all know what they look like or more importantly we all recognize when they look wrong. When was the last time you actually LOOKED at an apple?

Today I want you to hold that apple, turn it over in your hands. Observe the color or more likely the colors. Look at how those colors blend. What is the base color? My apple was really very yellow even though it is a red apple. Next look at the size and shape. Take out a ruler and measure it. You might even want to make a couple of quick sketches to reinforce the shape and size in your mind.

Now it is time to really clean your work surface. We are going to work with white and translucent polymer clay and they both tend to pick up every little bit of lint and dust that is in the air. I am pretty sure these colors have hidden magnets that draw dust from the next three or four rooms too.

Now get out your clay. Are you surprised that I am using white and translucent clay? If you are making the cut up version of the apple you will also want a golden yellow color (or a green color depending on your apple) to tone the whiteness of the clay down. If you are only going to make whole apples you won't need the extra color.

Follow the steps I used in the video to shape your apple and to color it. Depending on what your apple looks like yours might be a slightly different shape. Make as many as you want to. It is really fun.

The layer of chalk for color is really important but it is only the base of the colors. We want to layer our colors to get a more realistic looking apple. If you were to try to do the color in one coat of paint or use a colored clay you would end up with an apple that looks cartoonish rather than realistic.

The finish I used is Future floor wax for no-wax vinyl floors. My bottle is about 10 (maybe more) years old so the label is way different now. Here is a link to the manufacture's website so you will know what you are looking for. I love this for finishing some food items, especially fruits and veggies. It gives a very subtle glow that replicates the real thing. If you can't find this or don't want to look for it use any polymer clay compatible satin finish. You want a satin and not a gloss because that would not look real. Remember most food is not glossy. (one of my pet peeves about many doll foods)

If you want to make the cut version of the apples I do recommend putting your apple in the freezer for about 15 minutes, not much more than that though. This allows the clay to become firm enough that when you slice it you don't distort the shape nearly as much as you might with warm clay.

See that really was easy wasn't it?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Knife Experiment

Allison showing off the new knife set

the scene for the tutorial
Yesterday when I finished up the apples that will be the tutorial for this blog and the YouTube channel next week I felt I needed a couple of props to make the photos of the finished apples look their best. I decided that a knife and a cutting board would be just perfect. I looked through my collection of props that I have and found nothing so I decided to quickly make something out of polymer clay.

I liked the end result I did a bit more playing this morning with the idea. While at least one of the changes I made in the hopes of making them a bit easier I feel detracts from the finished knives I am overall happy with them.
the entire set

boning knife

chef's knife

bread knife

paring knife

So now for a question for all of you- should I continue to work on these and come up with a tutorial for them? How many of you would be interested in this project?

A quick hint- there is no real metal involved in these.

Monday, February 16, 2015

18” Doll Jam Tarts

Our project this week is really simple and requires just a few materials.

The first place I am going to send you though is the hardware or DIY store not the craft store. To form your tarts you will need some size 12 Finishing Washers. These are pretty inexpensive and you will be able to use them over and over again to make doll food items. Mine cost $1.18 per package of 6 washers at Home Depot last week.

The other things you will need are:
Polymer clay in a light dough color-( I used Premo's Ecru but you could also use Fimo Sahara or Sculpey III Tan.)

Clay knife/blade or craft knife

A variety of colors of soft pastel chalks. (here is a link to the ones I use but any brand is fine) important- you want soft pastels not oil pastels be sure to read the label.

A brush to apply the chalks- I prefer to use an eyeshadow brush (check the dollar store) but a paint brush will also work

Translucent Liquid Sculpey- (TLS for short) this is a liquid polymer clay and is used for many things. You could substitute Sculpey Bake and Bond or Fimo Deco
Gel if you need to.

A round tool to help press the clay into the washer (tart pans) I used the hand of a powder/ blush brush.


Something to help you get the TLS out of the container- I use a double pointed knitting needle but you could use a toothpick or a wooden skewer. You might even have good luck just pouring it out but I like the control I get with using a tool to get out just what I want.

A piece of aluminum foil- to mix you TLS with chalks on.

Paper plate to bake your tarts on

Oven to bake your project in.

We are going to start by making the tart shells. Use your finger to press a ball of dough colored clay into each washer. With just a bit of trial and error you will quickly figure out what size ball of clay you need.

Then use a round tool to form the tart shell. Try to keep the edge even around the top.

Use a knife or clay blade to cut the excess clay off that comes through the hole in the bottom of the washer. If you skip this step you probably won't be able to remove your tarts from their pans.

Now use a toothpick or similar tool to make some marks around the rim of your tart shell just like the real ones have. You can make any design you want to, I kept mine really simple.

Now we need to make our tart shells look like they have been baked. To this we are going brush them with some of the chalks. First find golden yellow, medium reddish brown and a darker brown colors of chalk. Use your craft knife to scrape off a bit of the golden yellow and brush this over the edge of each tart shell. Follow up with the reddish medium brown and then the dark brown- in that order. I like to scrape each color off into what is left from the previous color to help blend them a bit easier.

Transfer your tarts to the paper plate you are going use to bake them on.

Now the fun part begins.

Decide how many colors/flavors of tarts you are going to make.

Make a small puddle of the TLS on a piece of foil (or other surface) for each color. Now scrape off some of the chalk pastel in the correct colors to the puddles of TLS and mix with a toothpick. Use the toothpicks to carefully drip the chalk-TLS mixtures into the tart shells.

Bake the tart shells are 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.

If you want to make the tops shiny- totally optional step- use some clear Gallery Glass paint to carefully coat just the TLS portion of your tarts. I think I like them better without this step but I know some people like the shiny look better.

When everything is dry (if you did the optional step) and cooled simply pop your tarts out of their molds and use in a display.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dinner Rolls for 18” Dolls

Today we are making some dinner rolls to go in those baking pans we made last week. (Here's that video in case you missed it.) I decided to use an air dry clay (Model Magic) for this because it works so well for this type of thing. This clay is usually sold in the “kid's craft” area near the crayons and such. I love that it stays somewhat soft forever so it is perfect for things like these rolls and it makes great marshmallows.

Before you cut open the bag of clay make sure you have a way to keep it airtight. I like to put my opened package into a ziplock type freeze bag. I prefer the quart size since it is close to the size of the clay package. Just be sure to not leave the opened clay unprotected for very long. I starts to dry out pretty quickly and we want to get to use every little bit of this clay we bought.

Really making dinner rolls is an easy project even for a beginner. Simply roll the clay into a ball the size you want your roll to be. Being an air dry clay this product does shrink but not by very much.

If you want to make un-baked rolls you are done except for waiting a day or two for the clay to dry.

If you want to make your rolls look like they have been baked you only have a couple more steps.

You will need either some soft chalk pastels, the ones I am using in the video are from Michael's and I believe they are the store brand. They are not very expensive and I was able to get mine on sale. Remember to watch for their coupons too. I like to use an eyeshadow brush (dollar store purchase) to apply the chalk to my clay but you can use any brush (or a cotton swab or even you fingertip if you don't have anything else handy)

The three colors I used (and are the most used colors in my chalks) were: a golden yellow, a medium warm brown, and a dark brown.

If you don't have chalks you can use similar colors of eyeshadow as long as it is a matte finish (no sparkles here)

One of the cool things about this clay is if you press your rolls together when the clay is fresh and allow them to dry you can carefully pull them apart and you get a texture very similar to the real thing where they were touching.

I hope you enjoyed the project and make lots of dinner rolls for your dolls to enjoy. 


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Baking Dinner Rolls

Since it is the weekend Chelsea and I got to sleep in a little bit this morning. After we ate breakfast I asked her what she wanted to do today. She told me that she has been really wanting to do some baking. She has especially been wanting to eat some of the dinner rolls like our grandma used to make for us when we used to go to her house.

mom said the recipe should be in here
I asked mom and she said to look in the recipe file box because she was sure the recipe for those rolls was in there. She said she would be available if we needed help but she was sure between the two of us we could do all the steps by ourselves.

There it is!

We found the recipe for the rolls pretty quickly (we found a lot of other recipes we want to make too) and after a quick check of the kitchen we found we had everything we needed to make them on hand.

We had better check to see if we have everything we need

Chelsea could you get the things we need from the refrigerator
all set to make our rolls

We got the dough mixed and kneaded. Kneading bread dough is hard work but kind of fun at the same time.

We rolled the dough into little balls like the recipe said to do and put them in the pan to rise. It sure seemed to take a long time before they were ready.
where should we put them to rise?

Allison what temperature did you say to set the oven?

After they had a chance to rise we carefully put the pan in the oven. Then the real waiting began. Bread smells sooooo good when it is baking.

When the timer went off we opened the oven door and saw that our rolls looked perfect!
Oh there's the other oven mitt!

At first Chelsea could only find one oven mitt but we found the other one quickly, we didn't want our rolls to burn after all our hard work. I remembered to grab the cooling rack to protect the counter top from the hot pan too.

Then we had to wait until the rolls cooled a few minutes before we could taste them.

are they cool enough to taste yet
oh those are so good!!

They are just as good now as when we remembered from grandma's house!

I am so glad Chelsea wanted to bake today. I think we need to do this more often.

I suppose I should go down to the basement and tell Michael and Jeremy that the rolls are ready. Although I think Chelsea and I need to eat a few more first.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brands of Polymer Clay

Today I thought I would talk briefly about some of the different brands of polymer clay that are available. I know there are brands that I am not going to mention here and that is because I haven't used them I am only going to talk to you about the ones I use and therefore feel that I can give you my opinion. Remember articles like this are just that my opinion. Once you work with some of the clays you may prefer ones I don't care for, that is beauty of having different brands available.

One of my favorite brands and the one I tend to turn to the most is Fimo. For many years it was the only brand I even used because I liked it that much. Over time and as I am making different items I am also using more brands of clay. Traditionally, Fimo tends to be a bit more firm out of the package than the other brands. The newer formulas of Fimo are more soft than the older formulas though. One advantage to a firmer clay is that you can get much more detail in your work. This was especially important to me for all the years I have been making dollhouse miniature foods. Those items are much smaller than what we will be making in the projects on this blog though. I find that Fimo tends to not leach off color quit as badly as some of the other brands. It also bakes up to nice durable product . The colors blend nicely and for the most stay true when baked. In some stores I find that the price for Fimo is a bit higher than the other brands.

Sculpey III, is a brand that up until a few years ago I stayed away from. Mostly because it tends to be very soft out of the package. That does make it easier to work with and it requires less work to get it ready to use but, it also means it doesn't tend to hold the finer details very well. This being said one of the best polymer clay artisans in the Dollhouse food world always used Sculpey III and her work was breathtakingly beautiful and full of detail. She though came to the world of polymer clay via the world of ceramics and was more used to working with softer clays. Another issue I have with Sculpey III is that it leaches color much more than the other brands I have tried. This means that when you work with a color of clay you end up with a lot more of that color on your hands and everything else that may have touched the clay. As long as you are very careful about cleaning between colors this should not be too big of an issue. Also I find that the items made with Sculpey III are a bit more brittle/ fragile when baked. This can be remedied by mixing in another stronger brand of clay. This product seems to be also marketed to younger users and beginners.

Premo is made by the same company that makes Sculpey III but it is considered to be a more high end clay. It is aimed more at the polymer clay artist and it has a lot of the same properties as Fimo but it seems to be easier to work with. Premo seems to be about the same texture/ firmness out of the package as Fimo also but it works up a bit faster. It is also bakes up with a bit more give to it, meaning it is not nearly as brittle as Sculpey III as a finished product.

The same company also makes a new clay that they are calling Sculpey Souffle. I have only played with this one a few times and really haven't had time to develop much of an opinion about it.

Another brand I have tried is Cernit. This one is all but impossible for me to find in stores so I have only purchased a couple of packages. Overall I found it very soft and really didn't enjoy it that much. The one clay in this line that did impress me was the translucent and that one I really liked. When we get to projects that require the translucent I will probably talk more about that.

One brand that I really recommend that the beginner stay away from is Kato clay. This one is really meant for the serious polymer clay artist. I have several packages but I haven't worked with it enough to really get a feel for it. Also since it bakes at a very different temperature I would never mix it with the other brands.

I know that there are other brands out there. Some of the craft stores have their own “house” brands and I tend to stay away from those. I am concerned about quality and since the name brands come on sale just as cheaply I feel it is better to stick with those. The store brands might be fine I just choose to use brands I know I can trust. There are also some brands that are available in other areas that I can’t readily get where I live. I tend to buy in person rather than having clay shipped. I like to be able to pick the packages I want. I like to be able to squeeze then to make sure they are not too hard from improper storage. I also like to see the color of the raw clay in person.

Now I have mentioned mixing brands of clay. Yes, you can mix most brands. If the cooking temperatures of the different ones vary go by whatever is the lower temperature.

There is one more brand I do use regularly in my clay work and that is Original Sculpey. This clay only comes in an off white color, tends to be very soft and only comes in larger bricks that the small blocks of the nicer clays. However, because of the larger package it tends to be cheaper per ounce. I use it when I am making large items- often I will then cover the outside with “nicer” clay. The place I use this the most though is to make up blanks that I then use to make molds with so I can reproduce many items and have them all be the same. More on that process in a much later tutorial.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Baking Pan

Before I start telling you about the project I want to invite everyone to like my 18” Doll Facebook page. I have found my dollhouse miniature dedicated page to be a wonderful way to communicate with everyone so I want to add that to the 18” doll projects too. I will announce when I post blogs and videos but it is also a place where all of you can interact. Feel free to post photos of your doll projects and to ask questions. You can find the Facebook page here

here are the finished pans ready for something yummy to be put in them

Today I am showing one way to make an easy baking pan for your dolls. This pan is supposed to represent a 13” by 9” pan in real life. I took a few liberties with the measurements so it is pretty close but if you do the math you will find would not measure exact. This is because I wanted to keep the cutting and folding measurements easy to do. Also I have noticed even in real life these measurements can vary depending on what company made your particular baking pan.

I chose this size for a couple of reasons. Number 1 is that we are going to do a food video next week and we will need this pan for that. And secondly I know that over the years in my real kitchen this is the size pan I pull out the most in my real cooking so I figured it would be something our dolls could use too.

The pan we are making can either be made to look like ceramic/stoneware or metal. That depends on which paints you choose to use.

We are starting with a piece of what I refer to as paper board. By this I mean the lightweight cardboard that is used to package real food like crackers, cereal, etc from our real kitchens. I use these so much that I keep a box of the flattened boxes in my craft room. When I start to run out I put more in there instead of the recycling bin. They really don't take up much space and they are just so handy. I am planning a lot of projects on this channel/blog using this material.

We begin by cutting a piece of our paperboard to 4 ¼” by 6”. Our next step is to score on the lines we want to fold. On the short ends we need to score at ¼” and at ¾” from each end. On the long sides we score at ½” from the edge. I like to turn my paperboard over and score those ¼” score lines from the other side too. They are actually going to fold the opposite direction from the rest of the folds and since it is such a narrow spot the extra bit of scoring makes this soooo much easier.

Pre-fold all these scored lines making sure to really crease the folds flat. This will make your pan turn out much nicer in the end.

Now we need to cut on the lines indicated in this diagram:

red lines are the initial cutting lines, score on the brown, then cut away the areas indicated in green

Notice the areas that I indicated to cut away too.

Now we are going to glue our pans at the ends. I make sure that my short tabs are glued on the outside of these to make they look more realistic. Be sure to clamp the glued areas, we want to make sure these stay where we want them. The little steps like this that we take now will pay of in the end with a much nicer finished item. Now walk away and let that glue dry completely. It is really important for the glue to get all the way dry before we move on.

While the glue is drying you can decide what color you want to paint you baking pan. If you want to make it look metal I recommend using the Delta Ceramcoat brand metallic silver. I have much better luck with that brand for the silver paint. If you have another favorite use it but if you are shopping try to find that one. For the metal version you will also need some black craft paint.

If you are going to go the ceramic/stoneware route you will need white craft paint and whatever color(s) you want. Sometimes I paint the pans the same color on both the outside as the inside and sometimes I make the inside white and use a color on the outside. It is up to you. You may even want to paint designs on the sides, if you are undecided take a few minutes to check online for photos of real baking pans for ideas.

I did find out on my prototype pan that some of the color from the box labels will bleed through the white paint after the clear finish is added. (It didn't show until the clear finish was almost dry) I did some experimenting and I have found that Gesso seems to block that bleeding of color. So if you want to make an all white (or other light color baking pan) I would suggest doing the priming coat with a white Gesso rather than with white craft paint. If you are painting the outside a darker color go ahead and use the craft paint.

Once the glue is completely dry we are going to base coat our baking pans. Use either the white or black craft paint and be sure to coat both the inside and the outside of the pan at the same time. I know this is messy but until it has at least 2 good coats of paint to seal the paperboard you need to make sure that you have both sides of it wet at the same time. This step prevents the paperboard from warping as much. You can tell when you have enough on that you can paint the sides separately; at that point you will no longer be able to see the color on the paperboard through the paint. I usually find 2 coats is about right as long as I am using a good quality of paint. The cheaper, thinner paints might need more coats.

Now paint the final color onto your pan. For this step you can paint just one side of the paperboard and be sure to let it dry completely between coats.

If you are going for a metal pan you are done at this point unless you want to coat it with a satin finish sealer. For a ceramic/stoneware finish follow up with a couple of coats of a high gloss sealer. Allow the sealer to completely dry between coats.

Lemon Bars for 18” Dolls

Join this week to learn how to make some really easy Lemon Bars for your 18” dolls. I happen to love lemon bars in real life so I figured the dolls would too.

This is a really simple project that only requires 3 colors of polymer clay.

We start out with a thinnish layer of a crust color. Any tan/beige color. In the video I used some Fimo Sahara but Premo Ecru or Sculpey III Tan would also work just as well. Just use the one you have or can find.

For the lemon filling portion Fimo has made this step easier, they have a Translucent Yellow clay available (look for it with the “Effects” banner on the label) it is still not quite translucent enough so add an equal amount of Fimo Translucent to. This is the perfect color of clay for both this week's Lemon Bars and for the project I have planned for next week. (a little hint there)

Roll the yellow layer out thicker (I used the thickest setting on my pasta machine and then used 2 layers of this thickness.

Cut your lemon bars to the size you want, I like about ½ by ¾” approximately. Remember these cookies are usually cut pretty small in real life.

Now the fun begins. I like to start the texturing process with one of those scrubber pads that you find near the dishwashing stuff in the grocery store. I actually got some at the dollar store a while back. If you don't have this you can use a ball of aluminum foil, we just want to get some texture on the top of the filling that looks like the cracking that happens when the real ones cook.

Now transfer your first bar to an clean emery board (I buy these at the dollar store also) and use another emery board on the top of the bar to help hold it. This helps to prevent your finger prints from ruining the texture. Now use a pointy tool, I like a dental pick but what ever you are comfortable using. A pin or a toothpick would also work. We are now going to texture just the crust. I want you to barely touch the surface of the crust clay and make very tiny circle motions. This should just tease up little tiny crumbs to the surface. Work carefully around the base of each bar. I also like to gently drag the side of my tool down the sides of the bar to give it a more “cut” appearance.

Now bake your Lemon Bars according to the directions on the clay package.

Once they have cooled I want you to add just a touch of white craft paint with your finger tip to the top of each bar. To do this dip your fingertip into a bit of the paint then blot off most of the paint. We just want the smallest amount to be left on the fingertip. Now gently touch the top of each bar to add the “powdered sugar” dusting.

There now wasn't that easy?

Come back next week for another project using the same yellow clay mixture.