Make Dollhouse Miniature Hamburgers and Ground (Minced) Beef

  • 01 of 07

    Make Dollhouse Miniature Hamburgers and Ground Beef From Polymer Clay

    Uncooked, partially grilled, and grilled hamburger patties in 1:12 dollhouse miniature scale.
    Three stages of miniature grilled hamburger patties, made from polymer clay in 1:12 dollhouse scale. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    To successfully mimic ground beef and hamburger in miniature and dollhouse scales, you need to use a few special polymer clay techniques. The advantage of making your own dollhouse scale hamburgers is that you can represent all the cooking stages the meat goes through, adding realistic detail to your miniature scene. The patties in this tutorial are shown in the photos on the page at least double their actual size, so the detail may seem too large.

    If you have not used polymer clay before, please read the basics of working with polymer clay for safe handling information before beginning this project.

    Keep polymer clay away from tools and surfaces used for food preparation.

    To make these 1:12 scale hamburger patties, I used the following materials:

    For a varied grill display you can also make grilled wieners or frankfurters from polymer clay.

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  • 02 of 07

    Basic Clay Colors You Will Need to Make Ground Beef or Hamburger

    Base color blends of polymer clay used to make dollhouse miniature ground beef.
    Red brown, dark ochre, waste grey and black polymer clays used to blend shades for making ground beef and hamburger patties. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    To make ground beef from polymer clay you will need a few basic colors. A red brown is the main color, which will be blended lighter and darker. A mid brown or an ochre brown is useful as is a bit of black to darken the other colors. Finally I use waste clay which usually blends to a grey color. Cooked ground beef is usually a blend of grey and brown colors. 

    Don't worry too much about exact shades of brown for cooked ground beef.  You will be able to adjust the final color of burger patties using pastels.

    You may also want to have on hand a bit of translucent (porcelain) or white clay. These can be added to bits of  the red/brown in small quantities to produce a pink color for uncooked ground beef. As ground beef grades vary from region to region, take a close look at the colors in your local mince to make your base colors match what you expect to see.


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  • 03 of 07

    Blending Colors To Suit Your Miniature Ground Beef Project

    Brown , grey, and black polymer clays blended to make colors for miniature hamburger patties.
    Tones of brown, black and waste polymer clay are blended to make a range of pink, brown, and grey shades in order to mimic the color of ground beef at varying stages of grilling in order to make miniature hamburgers. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Here you can see the range of polymer clay colors I expanded for my ground / minced  beef project . I have taken small bits of the light color (the grey) and blended it into the red brown to get a grey / pink for raw ground beef, minced beef.  Add bits of black to darken your colors, or tiny bits of white or translucent to lighten them. Lightening brown tends to take it to pink tones, the ochre brown will help to lighten the color but keep it brown instead of pink.

    To make a range of colors for cooked and raw hamburger / ground beef / mince  you will need to have two to three different but related shades of brown or pink for each degree of cooking you want to represent. (See next steps.) Remember that some colors of some brands of polymer clay darken when baked (cured) and adjust your blends if necessary.

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  • 04 of 07

    Creating the Look of Ground Meat in Miniature

    Chopping fine rolls of polymer clay for blends of colors to resemble ground beef for burger patties.
    A polymer clay blade is used to finely chop thin rolls of colored polymer clay to create blends which look like ground beef. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Mincing fine rolls of polymer clay is the best way to get realistic minced meats like hamburger / ground beef.  Roll out your colors of polymer clay and allow them to set up fairly hard (you can put them in the refrigerator) before you begin to cut the rolls into tiny pieces. Cut in several directions to make tiny sections of the rolls, which are then cut finer into a variety of tiny shapes.

    Instead of cutting a single color, and then trying to blend the colors to make various stages of ground beef, lay two or three different colored rolls of clay together, including a dark blend, a light blend, and possibly a medium or contrasting color.  Cut all rolls at once, blending the colors together by flipping the sections before you cut them finer.  This will chop them into a realistic mixed blend.   You can see this technique in use for making the miniature pork pies  and the salami and cold cuts as well.

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  • 05 of 07

    Miniature Ground Beef Patties at Various Grilling Stages

    Chopping and blending fine rolls of polymer clay to mimic dollhosue scale ground beef and hamburger.
    Fine rolls of polymer clay colors are laid out together, chopped with a clay knife and blended to make various stages of raw and grilled ground beef for miniature hamburger patties. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Here you can see the various combinations of colors I used to make a range of stages of raw and grilled hamburger patties.

    The colors for the raw ground beef are located above the uncooked patty. I added an additional darker red to the raw colors to make the partially cooked patties in the center. The blend for the grilled patties on the far right of the photo has much more grey and bits of dark brown than the other blends.

    You don't need much clay to make each patty, so work out how many of each type you want to make, and use waste bits of clay and small leftovers to make a range of small rolls you can cut and chop for various meat blends.

    Assembling the Miniature Hamburger Patties

    Once you have your clay chopped to the blend you think resembles the degree of grilling you want to show in your patty,  use the side of your clay blade to gather the crumbs of clay together into a rough circle. Most hamburger patties are around 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, so make sure you fit yours to your particular scale.  Gently press down on the groups of clay with a piece of coarse sandpaper, or a  nail file, to set the patty shape. Use the back of a pin, embossing tool or silicone shaper  to gently shape the patty.  I prefer to leave rough edges on my patties and round them slightly on the top rather than make them look like they came out of a factory, but for some scenes, you may want to use an appropriate sized hole punch to get even patties.

    Detailing Miniature Hamburger Patties

    Add grill marks to the tops of your patties using a piece of wire or a fine pin. Don't press the mark in too far, look at real patties to see how the marks sit on the surface. You can tease bits of the clay apart with the point of a pin if you wish to make the surface uneven. It is hard to do in scale.  You can see here that the pin  I used would need to be finer if the patties are going to be examined way over size in a photo. In real life, the pin holes appear fine.

    You can make the tops and edges of your patties uneven by gently pressing a rough piece of sandpaper or an emeryboard or pumice stone into the surface of the patty. A rolled up ball of aluminum foil will also texture the surface although it can leave crack lines which look a little odd. Dab the crumpled foil onto your putty rather than rolling small crumpled balls over it for texture.

    Set the patties on a baking surface which has been coated with roughly 1/16 (2mm) deep of baking soda or a rough baking tile to prevent the patties from glazing on the side that touches the baking surface.

    Bake your clay according to the package directions for curing the clay.  When the patties are cool to the touch, rinse off any baking soda which remains stuck to the patty.

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  • 06 of 07

    Adding Grill Marks To Dollhouse Hamburger Patties

    Brushing pastel onto dollhouse scale polymer clay hamburger patties to mimic char marks.
    Pan pastel is brushed onto the edges and grill marks of polymer clay hamburger patties to give them some realistic charring in dollhouse scale. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    When your patties have cured you can adjust the look of the patty with careful application of artist's chalks or pastels.  I use a fine spotter brush to draw dark pastel across the patty over the grill indentations. I use the same color dabbed around the lower edges to show where the patty has been in the flames.  You can use other colors (including dark brown) to adjust the color of some patties to make them look more or less cooked, or seasoned.  Imagine patties which have been basted with brown sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce.

    If you prefer, you can mix your pastel into a bit of the glaze used in the next step to help it stay in place on the patties.


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  • 07 of 07

    Adding Glaze For Juicy Dollhouse Hamburgers

    Adding clear gloss varnish to dollhouse miniature hamburger patties to mimic fat and beef juice.
    Polyurethane or acrylic varnish can be added to sections of the dollhouse miniature hamburger patties to create the effect of melted fat or beef juices. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    The final step in finishing miniature polymer clay hamburger patties is to add a bit of acrylic glaze or varnish to the areas which you want to appear fresh off the grill. The glaze mimics the effect of fat and juices on the surface of the burger.  Use a thinned down coat of glaze (add a bit of water) and don't apply the glaze to the entire surface of the patty. Hamburgers look more realistic when the glaze is not evenly coating the entire surface of the burger. You can use a bit of dampened paper towel or a rag to pull off any excess glaze if you wish.

    Have fun with your range of patties. Make sure you make enough to put some in open and closed buns, as well as on a plate set beside the condiments!  Uncooked patties and mince can also be set into a butcher's display. The grilled mince blend will also work well for miniature meatballs to go with polymer clay pasta!