First, good news! This blog is now mapped to a domain now! The domain is ‘www.hikaria.com’ and I decided to take it before it got taken again. Actually, I wanted ‘hikaria.net’ because I used to own that domain, but unfortunately it appears to be some sort of fantasy French website now. I was pretty sad about it because it’s like having someone move into your old house that you still want to live in, but oh well. Hikaria.com it is!
When I first got into sweets deco I tried to look online for a comprehensive tutorial on how to do it. I found bits and pieces here and there but nothing comprehensive. I really want to make a big, big tute on sweets deco where I try to cover as much as possible so that it’ll all be covered in one place step by step. I’ll aim to cover the basics of sweets deco so that you can (hopefully!) design your own deco as opposed to following a project step-by-step. So, here I am making a large multi-part tutorial on sweets deco. Let’s start!
Getting inspired is a really important part of doing sweets deco. Often when i’m not inspired I just sit down at my table, knead my clay and then wonder what exactly i’m here to do. Unfortunately I found that getting inspired for sweets deco is not easy because if you search ‘sweets deco’ in google, you really don’t get many results at all! Still it’s really important that you look at lots of pictures so you know what your item is supposed to look like, and to get inspired for a project.
Some of my favourite sweets deco blogs and websites include:
- Milky Ribbon – her blog is gorgeous and so is her stuff.
- Dolce Deco – this is very traditional sweets deco and extremely cute, but sometimes a little over the top for me.
- Apricot Cafe – so freakin’ beautiful! This is what I wish I could do!
These are my most frequented blogs, but here on “Blogmura” (blog village) is a listing of sweets deco blogs. Don’t worry if you can’t read Japanese, you’re really here to look at pretty pictures :). And if you’re learning Japanese, it’s great reading comprehension practice.
Gather your materials
Now that you’ve gotten an idea of what you want to make, you have to make them with something. I’ve made this list assuming that you will be making your deco parts from scratch. If you want to buy them in bulk from suppliers then obviously won’t need clay or clay tools. On top of this some materials may be specific to a certain deco part, in that case i’ll mention it in the tutorial for it itself and not here. This is just a list of the most general items needed. Also note that this list of materials is just for deco parts, which require much less detail than making miniature jewellery. A general items list for miniature jewellery would be a lot more comprehensive.
- Clay – even though I usually use polymer clay, I prefer air dry clay over polymer clay for deco parts. The reason is because the type of air dry clay I use is much, much lighter than polymer clay when dry. This means that you won’t be lugging around a 1kg mirror in your bag after it’s been deco-ed! Still there are many types of air dry clay out there and it is important that you choose the right one. Firstly you need your air dry clay to be pure white, this is so it is easy to colour with pastels or acrylics. Secondly, it needs to be a lightweight type, like paper clay, otherwise you will end up with pottery clay-like substances, which is very heavy and hard to work with. This is the type I use because it is the only thing readily available to me at a decent price. A general rule of thumb is if you pick up the packet and it feels pretty light, then it’ll probably work. I’m sorry I can’t be any more specific than that, i’ve just stuck with one brand for now!
- Clay roller – any cheap old rolling pin with do. A small one would probably be easier to work with, although I don’t think it matters much. Mine’s just a small plastic round thing.
- Toothbrush – preferably a hard bristled one, used to create texture.
- Measuring scoops – used to shape macarons and ice cream. You want one that is very round (like this) and not in any other sort of shape (like this). Also preferably the handle part should be smooth (you’ll see why), but this is not as big of an issue.
- Acrylic or watercolour paints – used to colour the air dry clay. While technically you probably could just do with the primary colours and mix your own, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have a great knowledge of colour mixing. For example, while red and white do make a pink, it is not a nice pastel bright-ish pink that macarons in deco often are. I’d suggest that if you know you’ll be doing a lot of deco that you buy your colours individually (like a nice light blue, pink, etc) because individual colours often come in huge tubes. On the other hand, if you’re just trying it out, I suggest buying a small basic set. One colour you’ll definitely need is yellow ochre which is used to make dough colour.
- Cream/icing piping set – absolutely essential, in sweets deco all the parts are stuck on with ‘cream’ which is what keeps it together. There are many options for the bag component. The one I use is just your very normal run of the mill piping bag except mine has a coupler at the end which means I can change the piping tip without needing to change a whole bag. Then you’ve got your icing syringe which I own but I don’t think it feels very natural for me. Whichever you choose, make sure you at least have a large open star tip like these. I’d suggest ones like no. 21 or 19, a good size without a ridiculous number of spikes.
- Modelling paste – this is for the cream component. You’ve actually got heaps of options here, from silicone to Japanese brand ‘Decotti’ cream to acrylic-silicon hybrid items but I am only going to use modelling paste because right now I am finding modelling paste the most convenient. Here is my post on modelling paste, do look in the comments because there’s a wealth of info there, especially from SammiGene on alternatives.
- Puff paint – for chocolate or strawberry sauces. I use puff paint but you could possibly just fill up a squeeze bottle with a fine tip like this with acrylic paint.
- Other items such as rhinestones, pearls, little bows, for finishing touches depending on personal taste.
Next part: colouring air dry clay and macarons.