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MM23: Dining Room Miniatures in Polymer Clay

w/ Sue Heaser


video sleeve image

$29.95 + S&H

Table of Contents:

Tools & Materials
Buttered Parsley Potatoes
Roast Beef
Raspberry Meringue Dessert
Candelabra & Candles
Picture Frames

Approx. Running Time: 92 minutes

Eating in Style with Sue Heaser

Once again English polymer clay artist Sue Heaser has teamed with MindStorm Productions to create an outstanding video, this time "Dining Room Miniatures in Polymer Clay," the 23nd installment in MindStorm's Master Miniaturists series.

Heaser, a 15-year veteran of polymer clay artistry, is the author of scores of articles and a book on the subject.

Heaser takes the viewer through the creation of:

  • A complete roast beef dinner
  • Bread and dessert
  • China and serving pieces
  • Cutlery and napkin rings
  • Paintings and clocks for the dining room walls

Sue begins with a review of the simple tools and materials needed to create her dining room miniatures, including a special small rolling pin from a cake decorating shop. There is a special emphasis here on creating one's own special-purpose tools out of polymer clay. Materials include images cut from magazines, lace and sieves for texturing clay, and semolina grain for creating realistic breads. All the work is done in 1/12 scale, the most common dollhouse scale.

Sue begins with the focal point of a dining room, the food on the table. The camera lingers over the beautifully crafted (and well-lit) miniatures that could well inspire a hungry viewer to head for a real pantry! The central item on the menu is a luscious roast beef. Sue gives step-by-step instructions for creating the illusion of a juicy, well-marbled "joint" of meat, beginning with mixing clay colors to make "the rather complex meat color inside the roast, so you can slice it successfully." Realistic grooves indicate string ties around the roast, tinted varnish makes it look suitably "greasy," and thin slices of medium-rare beef lie on the serving platter next to the glistening roast itself.

Potatoes are a natural part of a roast beef dinner. Heaser shows us how to create boiled potatoes with a realistic translucency, varnish them so they look coated with melted butter, and top them with real dried parsley which has been very finely crumbled. What about green veggies? Heaser hasn't let down the nutritionists, for she has included broccoli in the menu. She demonstrates how to create branched stalks which are baked prior to attaching the darker green floret heads (made to look realistic by pressing raw clay through a sieve).

Heaser spends considerable time demonstrating her approach to miniatures loaves of bread. Here, she mixes real grain with raw clay to make it more realistic when sliced, a nice change from the more ordinary approach to miniatures which would simulated texture on individual "slices" of bread. After shaping the loaf with her fingers and simple tools, she proceeds to use artists' pastels to simulate the many colors that bread dough takes on during baking, She observes:

I love using the pastel powders-you you can get such subtle effects with them, just like the browning on top of pies and cakes-absolutely perfect. You could never never get such subtly effects with paint.

With its top textured with quilt batting, the finished bread loaf looks good enough to eat. As a bonus, Sue shows us how to make slices of toast for the morning after the dinner party, complete with uneven browning marks and smeared-on pats of butter.

All well-rounded dinners need dessert, and Sue comes to the rescue with a beautiful raspberry meringue. She uses lace netting to create the characteristic bubbled surface of raspberries, powdered pastels to imitate the gentle browning of meringue, and a novel "ingredient" for the slathering of whipped cream.

Heaser turns now to non-perishables. Using a homemade tool she indents a disk of polymer clay to make a dinner plate and scallops the edge with a tapestry needle. A serving bowl is molded over a glass marble and gets its flat, level top edge with the use of sandpaper after baking. As with the rest of this video, Sue provides a running commentary about working with the clay, using one's hands and fingers to manipulate shapes and using tools to get precise results in small scale. Cutlery (or "silverware" in the U.S.) is created using techniques familiar from Sue's "Kitchen Miniatures" video. Here, Sue shows how to make one's own spoon-forming tool from clay, how to simulate bone handles, and how to mass-produce knife blades. "To complete our place setting," she demonstrates making silver napkin rings from very thin strips of clay rolled around a knitting needle, embossed with various tools, and brushed with silver powder.

Decorative touches for the dining room include a painting, candelabra and clock. The gilded picture frame is decorated with an embossing tool made from a life-size teaspoon handle and is brushed with gold powder. The "painting" is a small picture cut from a magazine. Sue mentions that alternative frames are worth considering: silver, bronze and wood grain.

With a twinkle in her eye, Sue says "Let's make our doll's house dinner more romantic." She creates silver candelabra by baking the central vertical members on a temporary armature and adding the separately baked serpentine arms and candle cups later. She finishes by showing us how to create realistic yellow tallow candles appropriate for the Victorian era.

The final object for this dining room is the shelf or mantle clock. Sue creates the curvy clock body from white clay, attaches a clock face cut from a magazine and surrounded by a thin coil of gold clay, and decorates the clock overall with tiny painted flowers. She stresses the importance of using acrylic paint and of varnishing the baked clay surface to prevent bleeding of the paint.

"Dining Room Miniatures in Polymer Clay" ends with several variations on the projects: a bone-in roast, resembling a ham; roast potatoes, complete with browned edges; green beans; a "plated meal" with a serving of each food ready for eating. We also see assorted shapes and sizes of breads and scones and a chocolate cake and coffee gateau worthy of a four-star pastry chef. Variations on non-edibles include candlesticks; wood, slate and cuckoo clocks; a variety of serving dishes and a serving platter; and embossed and gilded picture frames.

Sue Heaser is a masterful instructor whose techniques are known world wide among miniaturists. This video is a fine example of the value of combining expertise with enthusiasm and will be a fine addition to artists' libraries.