Christmas is fast approaching and what gives that festive feeling better than a marvellous mince pie?
If you create texture and colour by adding beads and semolina to liquid polymer, you can make a wonderfully realistic mincemeat mixture, which can also be used to make seasonal puddings and cakes. Use this terrific tutorial from Angie Scarr's Miniature Food Masterclass, published by GMC, to make large tarts for cutting, or individual-sized pies.
MINIATURE MINCE PIES
You will need:
Small glass jar
Liquid polymer, coloured brown with a little oil paint
Semolina or maizemeal
Tiny glass accent beads – brown, black and clear
Red glass beads (can be the same size but best slightly larger)
Pre-made tart cases (see 'techniques' below). Or, you can make and fill in one go, especially if making unbaked pies
Tiny holly-leaf cutter, the open cutters are best for this
Chalks or powder colours and paintbrush to brown the pastry if making baked mince pies
Optional: various eggcraft findings, to use as cutters for smaller tarts
Pastry cases: You will need polymer clay in white chocolate mix with a little ochre or light brown, tart/pie dishes, cutters, pastel chalks in umbers, sienna and ochre shades and a soft, short-bristled brush.
Pastry ought to have a crumbly appearance but polymer clays are quite smooth; however, in 1/12 scale this is less obvious. Use a basic white chocolate mix and add a little ochre or light brown. Of course, it depends whether you want your pastry to look cooked, and how cooked. You can still get away with quite a range of hues as long as your use of powders to colour the edges is subtle. Collect bun and tart tin shapes, which can be as simple as raised-head counter-sunk washers, available at DIY shops. Or miniature metal muffin tins. These ash tray shapes make excellent medium-size tarts. Miniature plates and bowls can be used and re-used as pie dishes. Or you can make your own tart or flan shapes in a mould using frilled-edge cutters to make your master. To cut your tarts you can either use plain circle cutters which you leave plain, or you can use blossom cutters. My favourite cutters and shapers, however, come from eggcraft suppliers and are pressed metal findings and filigrees. Colour the edges of the cases with chalks or pastels. My favourites for this job are pastel chalks, but you can use decorating chalks from card craft suppliers and even make-up powders. You’ll need umbers, siennas and ochres; the artistry in the mix is down to you. You will need a short-bristled, soft brush that is not too narrow. Have some confidence but make sure you put more colour on the raised bits which would be more likely to overcook or even burn.
Miniature Mince Pies - Method
1 An easy filling for mince pies can be made from a mixture of liquid polymer and textured materials. Here I’ve chosen a mix of semolina and tiny glass accent beads (red, brown, black and clear) mixed with liquid polymer.
2 Alternatively, you could use pre-baked and/or unbaked polymer clay grated into the liquid polymer. Don’t forget the colours that are used in the real thing. Some cream or white in place of the suet. Dark brown or black in place of the raisins, brown in place of nuts, sultanas and peel and don’t forget cherries. Red beads are the best for this.
3 The liquid polymer should be brown coloured and it doesn’t matter too much if it’s translucent or a little opaque. Pour a mixture of each of your bead and semolina ‘ingredients’ into a jar and add enough of the coloured liquid polymer to make a thick, textured mix.
4 Don’t add too much or you will not be able to see the texture or colours of the ingredients.
3 A single-size mince pie can be made in a raised-head counter-sunk washer using a tiny Kemper circle cutter, an icing nozzle or a cutter made from brass rod. Alternatively, make a larger pie.
4 Fill the tart case with the mincemeat mixture and add three leaves to the top
For variations you can also glue extra ‘cherries’ (red beads) in the middle with a little uncoloured liquid polymer. You can also dust with talc, or cornflour, scenic snow, roket powder or sugar frost but personally I prefer them without.
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