Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Polymer clay tutorial: Cake slice charms!

It's finally time for another tutorial! I knew I was going to do something 'iconic' of my Cute Enough to Eat stuff, but I wasn't sure what. I ran a poll, I asked around... and everything seemed to be pretty much tied up; there were no strong leaders. For me, indecision is a huge procrastination tool, so I sat on it for a while. Then, I got a commission for some teeny cake slices, and so it was decided! 

So first off, this is how small the slices I made for this tutorial turned out to be compared to my normal ones. They're teeny! They'd be really good for bracelets, I think.

To get a sense of scale, the picture below shows you how big the 'cake' section of the clay needs to be. They're compared in size to UK money here, but the left-hand coin would be equivalent in size to a US dime, and the right closer to a half-dollar. This is just for reference though: you can make your cakes however big or small you like!

For this tutorial I used two tiers. They don't need to be perfectly shaped now but get them roughly to what you want them to be. (The easiest way to get them the same volume is to judge them while they're still in a ball.) You can also quickly see about how big your cake slices will end up being by making impressions in one of your tiers with a tissue blade. (Re-roll and shape your tier after doing this if you make them as deeply as I did here!) I was making red velvet cakes, so I mixed Fimo cherry red with a tiny bit of Fimo chocolate to get this colour. Add VERY small amounts of dark to lighter colours, you can always add more if you need it, but you can't take it back!

You're also going to need some icing. I'm using an off white- just Fimo white mixed with Fimo lemon. You can see below what I mean by adding too much dark to light- the right-hand lump is far too yellow and I probably only had a ratio of 1:8 on white:lemon clay. If that happens, break it in half (or even quarter it), and dilute it with the lighter colour, or just start again. The other thing to remember if you're working with a dark filling and a light frosting (or vice versa) is to get your hands as clean as possible after handling the dark clay. Otherwise, you'll end up with (in this case) a pink tinge to your icing, which you probably don't want! I use fragrance-free baby wipes religiously, and they work very well for getting any flecks off of the surface of clay, too.

Roll out the icing, you'll want it thin- about 2mm max. Place one of the cake tiers on top of the clay, and use it as a guide to cut out a centre filling layer. Lift the filling (together with the top tier if it sticks) with a tissue blade so it doesn't distort when you pull it off of the board.

Roll your cake on its end to smooth the edges. It'll go into a barrel shape but don't panic, just slowly and gently work it back into the cake shape you want. It's ok if you get flecks of white on it and such at this point! Once you're happy with your cake shape, wipe your hands down again and re-roll your icing if you need to.

Lift the rolled clay from the board carefully, and drape it over the cake. Lay it as you would a layer of fondant on a real cake- allow it to make contact with the top of the cake first, and then slowly work down, making sure to push out any air bubbles. If you do end up with air bubbles (which you will be able to feel as you smooth your cake out), you can take a small pin and make a hole to push out the air, and then smooth the clay back over. Getting it a bit wet with a baby wipe will help to smooth out any small pin-holes. You can also wait until you've cut the cake, as you may end up slicing through the air-bubble anyway! Cut a long strip of rolled clay and twist it (for more pictures on this see my pumpkin pie tutorial) to make the piped frosting edging.

Gently lay the twisted clay around the edges of the cake. The best way to make a clean join is to cross the twist over itself, and slice through both ends simultaneously (and gently- don't cut into your cake).  Gently press the twist into the cake and position it as you'd like. Remember once again that it may be best to lift the cake from the board with the tissue blade first!

This cake cuts best into eighths, but you can cut it however you like. Maybe even make a small one and remove only one piece for a cute statement pendant! 

(If you want to only make two slices, make square tiers in the length of the slice that you'd like, and proceed as normal until this point, leaving off the twists. Once it's covered, cut the square diagonally, and then slice off one of the remaining covered sides of each slice to get the open slice effect, leaving only the "end" of the slice covered. Re-shape as needed and then add twists.)

Finally, texture the pieces with a toothbrush. I find it easiest to use just the tip, angled up slightly, so I can avoid texturing the cut-away of the icing if possible. Tidy your pieces up and shape them again if needed, using a baby wipe to very gently pull away any dust or flecks of colour from the icing.

Don't forget to place holes for any findings you want to ad before baking unless you have a very good drill with teeny bits. You can place them however you like- I couldn't decide so I did some of both! Bake these as the package indicates (I usually throw everything in for 30 minutes at 110C) and varnish them if you'd like!

Obviously there's a huge range of things you can do with these. Lots of colours and 'flavours', and even decorations! I've made a long heart cane to slice for some heart-decorated cakes, a long gold tube to slice for some golden coins on a St Paddy's green velvet slice, and shaped small pink hearts on purple-frosted slices. My triple layer Portal-inspired cake was made the same way but the tiers were narrower, and I rolled the cake in pre-baked and -chopped clay for a flaked chocolate effect on the outside before topping each slice with cream and a cherry. The Christmas cake used one tier, but it was built up in thin layers as I ran small red tubes of clay between each layer which, when cut away, looked like pieces of fruit inside the cake. The Christmas cake also got a thin layer of light-yellow clay "marzipan" before the white icing layer!

And, once upon a time I had funfetti cakes as well! Built up in a similar manner to the fruit in the Christmas cakes and double tiered, these took a lot longer but were so sweet when finished. I gently added some finely-ground cooked polymer clay after varnishing by "gluing" it with additional varnish for a sort of sprinkles effect!

So what's your favourite cake? What would you wear, and what would you eat?

One of my 2013 goals is to post at least one tutorial every month. What would you guys like to see next, and what would you like to learn overall?

<3 S


  1. Thanks for sharing, I've just ordered some polymer clay. It'll be the first time i've used it, I can't wait.


    1. It's a lot of fun! If you want more 'realistic' looking cake- for miniature scale etc- add a bit of translucent clay to your cake colour. You don't need much at all (and it'll make the colour look a bit lighter until it's baked) but it does wonders for making the cake look more real! Good luck!

  2. I love the red velvet cake :) very cute