As kids, sisters Jessica and Susan Partain crafted miniature food for their dolls. As adults, they've founded inediblejewelry.com, where they sell an amazing variety of whimsical food charms and jewelry.
The two recently collaborated on a "cookbook" of clay cookery basics—The Polymer Clay Cookbook: Tiny Food Jewelry to Whip Up and Wear—and instructions for 20 wee foods. Here, they share directions to make their "yummy cupcake" charm.
3/8" ball burnt umber
1/8" ball cadmium red clay
1/4" ball white clay
1/16" ball cadmium red clay
- Needle or stippling tool
- Needle-nose pliers
- Safety pin
- Nail clippers
Start with the cake part. Roll the ball of brown clay into a small cylinder.
Then set the cylinder on end and gently press to flatten the bottom and top.
Use a needle or stippling tool to make tiny indentations all over the surface. Don't forget the bottom!
Thoroughly mix the larger ball of red and the white ball to create an even pink color. Flatten the pink ball into an uneven pancake about twice the diameter of the top of your cake cylinder. The edge of the pancake should be a bit thinner than the middle.
Center the frosting on top of the cake, then gently fold down the edges of the frosting onto the cylinder. Press the edge of a safety pin into the side of the cupcake to create parallel, evenly spaced lines all around.
Push the point of the headpin through the bottom center of your cupcake until the head is flush with the bottom.
Roll the remaining red clay into a very smooth ball. Slide the cherry onto the headpin and down until it rests on top. Bake for 18 minutes at 275°.
Finish the headpin by making it into a wrapped loop.
Making a Wrapped Loop
- Start with a baked charm on a headpin. Grip the wire about 1/8" above the top of the charm with the end of your needle-nose pliers.
- Use your fingers to grip the very end of your wire, then wrap it around the tip of your pliers and create a loop. The tail should stick out at a 90-degree angle.
- Remove the pliers and grip the side of the loop.
- Hold the tail of the wire and wrap it around the exposed wire between the loop and the top of the charm. You'll want to spiral the wire downward from the loop to the top of the charm and keep the wire as tight as possible for a clean wrap. You should be able to wrap it around two to three times, depending on how much room you left in step 1.
- Use your nail clippers to trim off the extra wire as close to your wrapped loop as possible, so there is no little piece of tail to snag anything while you're wearing your charm.
To glaze your piece, make sure it is cool and dry. Carefully paint an even layer of glaze onto your piece. Try not to put too much glaze on it or you'll get drips and an uneven coat.
One trick is to grip the headpin with a large binder clip so you can cover all sides of a piece with glaze at once. The binder clip can be used to keep the charm suspended until the glaze is dry, which usually takes half an hour.
Find cupcake recipes to go with your fun cupcake charms!
Video: How to Create a Burger Charm
Jessica Partain, co-author of The Polymer Clay Cookbook, shows you how to make mini burger charms from polymer clay.
Modeling Clay Tips
Squishing, shaping and smoothing—kids know modeling clay is a lot of un. Claim a little of that fun yourself. Here are some tips to get you rolling.
- The Right Stuff. Look in craft stores for the best brand of oven-bake or polymer clay for your project. Brands less prone to breaking work better for larger pieces, and softer brands can be ideal for more detailed ones. A little research before buying can pay off!
- Peak Condition. Massage and roll the clay until it becomes soft before you start shaping. Conditioning strengthens the clay, making it easier to work. (You can buy clay-conditioning machines or even use a pasta machine. But clean it before adding another color—and don't use a pasta machine for food afterward.)
- On the Surface. Choose a smooth, protected work surface—waxed paper, inexpensive flexible plastic sheets or a smooth white ceramic tile on which you can bake the project.
- Tool Time. You don't have to buy special tools—ordinary household items work fine! But again, don't use any tools for food after using them with clay.
- Smooth it Out. Sand your pieces after baking to remove fingerprints or rough spots.
- Keep it Clean. Clay easily picks up residue. Thoroughly clean hands and work surface before and after each use, and when switching colors. Wipe your work surface with rubbing alcohol to dissolve residue, then dry with a lint-free cloth. Baby wipes are great for removing color residue from your hands, and a sugar or sea-salt scrub gets residue out even from between the tiny ridges of your fingertips.
- Light to Dark. Start with lighter colors and then move gradually to darker colors.
- Easy Bake. Follow manufacturer's instructions when baking clay. Use a clay oven or a toaster oven reserved only for clay projects. (If you use your kitchen oven, you must clean it before using it again for food.) Watch pieces carefully to avoid scorching.
- Now and Later. Polymer clay needs baking to harden. Save leftover clay by wrapping in waxed paper (some clays react with plastics) and storing with original packaging.
Source: Jane Craig, Country Woman Craft Editor