01 of 06
Make Salami and Cold Cuts in Miniature Scales from Polymer Clay
Miniature salamis and cold cuts aren't difficult to make from polymer clay. The technique involves careful work to prevent the blending of colors, but the method shown here will let you make an entire charcuterie, deli, or salumeria full of your favorite preserved meats and cold cuts.
To make my traditional finocchio salami shown here, I used white, translucent, red and blue polymer clays. You will also need a sharp polymer clay blade to cut slices from your salami. I've shown the method with this particular type of salami as it shows a good color contrast for photos. You can use the same method and materials to make many deli meats which don't have as high a color contrast, bologna, mortadella and other deli favorites.
Try to use the following steps to make your deli meets while looking at an actual sample or a good photograph. This will help you create the right colors and realistic shape blends for your particular project.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
Polymer Clay Colors for Miniature Salami Sausages and Deli Meats
To make the miniature salami and other deli meats you will need a range of custom polymer clay blends to match your chosen deli meats.Note: due to the persistence of red polymer clay, I strongly suggest you begin blending the white and translucent clays to make the fat blends before you begin to create the blends for your main sausage or deli meat. Working from light to dark, you will have less problems with picking up bits of the wrong color as you blend.
Fat Blends for Dollhouse Meats - To make the marbled fat which is so distinctive in deli sausages, make a small roll of translucent clay (porcelain in some brands) and sprinkle small bits of crumbled white clay over the roll. Use a roller to flatten the roll with the bits in it, then fold, re-roll, and flatten the clay a few times to produce a streaky section of translucent and white clay. Take this clay blend and make small thin rolls of clay, as thin as possible. Set them aside. Flatten some of the rolls with the back of a polymer clay blade against your work tile, to make the thinnest possible layers of clay. Use the clay blade to scrape the clay off your tile in flakes. Set these with the fat rolls for later blending.
To make pale pink clay to include in your fat mix,use a small amount of white, and add mere grains of red, (even red attached to your fingers from cutting red clay is usually enough!) mixing it thoroughly until you get to a pale pink shade. Once you have it the shade of pink you want, add roughly half as much translucent to the mix as you have pink, to make it seem fatty. Roll and flake this clay as for the fat mix.
To Mix Sausage Meat Colors for Polymer Clay Deli Meats - depending on the deli meat or sausage you are trying to make, meat color range from terracotta red, through to a rich deep burgundy color. The deep burgundy color I used is easiest to mix from roughly 1 part blue to 1 part red polymer clay. You may have to adjust your clay color bases for this, some clays will make brown from certain red and blue combinations. If your color is too brown, add more red clay. To deepen the color, add more blue. The deep burgundy clay is the one shown closest to the white and pink clays in the photo above.
Terracotta Color Using Primo clay, I made the terracotta color (next to the blue) using 1 part red to 1:16 part blue, you can also double the blue to 1:8 to get a deeper version of terracotta. The red/brown color beside the terracotta shade is roughly a 1 part red to 1/8 part blue mix. Hint - to mix colors, take your main color and cut it up into half, then quarters from one of the halves, then eights from one of the quarters. Regardless of how much clay you start with, you can then remix the blends by matching the amount of the main color to the amount of the secondary color you mix in.
If you need lighter or darker version of your colors, you can add white to make them paler, or black to darken them.
Make a few fine rolls and flakes of your chosen colors in preparation for beginning to make your sausage blend.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
Chop and Blend Polymer Clay Colors for Dollhouse Salami and Sausages.
Take the thin rolls and flakes of color from the previous step that you want to put in your particular style of salami or deli meats. Lay small amounts in a pile, making sure the color mix is even throughout the pile. Gently roll the colors together until they form a small roll. Cut a slice off the roll and check to see the overall color. Does your salami need more white in the blend?, more pink?, more dark? Slice your initial roll into small slices and chop the mix into tiny pieces using a clay blade. Try to chop the pieces into different sizes, rather than equal squares.
Now take more of the fine clay rolls and flakes in the color you think you need to add to your salami. Mix these new bits into the pile of chopped bits so the pile is roughly uniform (all bits will be chopped, not rolled yet). Now chop the pieces together to blend in the white, translucent, pink, and meat colors, stirring the pile as you chop. See photo next page.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
Adjust the Colors for a Dollhouse Salami Made From Polymer Clay
With the new colors blended in place, continue to chop across your pile in all directions, flipping the pile once in a while as you chop through it. Roll your clay lightly into a roll and slice it to see if the clay blend is correct for your particular artisan salami. You may need to chop the roll into slices and dice the slices again to work the blend into finer particles. You may also need to add more of particular colors to make your blend the correct shade.
When you reach a point where cutting across your roll of chopped colors gives you a realistic salami slice, stop. It is time to add the casing to your salami or other deli meat.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Covering a Roll of Polymer Clay to Make a Casing for a Dollhouse Salami
Various types of deli meats have different casings or coatings. The coating may be dark with a white dust, just a layer of light color, or a thick layer of fat. For an example of a traditional sausage casing in miniature, see the instructions for making a miniature haggis. A thick layer of fat as a casing will have more white than used for the haggis.
For the artisan salami shown here, the casing is a dark sausage casing finished with a layer of white 'dust' using pastels or chalks.
To make the salami or sausage casing, roll out a thin layer of your chosen color of polymer clay, and use a sharp clay blade to peel the thin layer off your work surface to roll it over your sausage roll as shown.
Roll the salami (or other style of sausage) to the desired diameter to make realistic slices. Take a test slice to make sure your casing is not too thick.
When you have the casing the correct thickness, pinch it over one end of your sausage roll to form a 'heel' or end for your salami. Set the clay aside to stiffen.
For some deli meats, including mortadella and bologna, you may not need a polymer clay casing. These meats can be finished after baking with a thin coating of pastel or chalk, similar to the way baked loaves are finished for miniatures.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
Add Texture and Finish to Dollhouse Scale Deli Meats
Finish your dollhouse scale deli meats by texturing the outer casing if necessary before baking your clay. I used 60 grit sandpaper to texture the outer casing of this salami as I will be cutting it into thin slices. You can also try texturing the casing with crumpled wax paper or cling film, or aluminum foil. You can also use a sewing or darning needle to shape particular salami casings to the proper shape for a known brand or type. Many salamis are shaped with small indentations around the casing, others have lines where strings are wrapped to hold them while they cure. If you wish, you can coat the casing with fine sand or grated cured clay to resemble a peppercorn coating found on some sausages.
Bake/cure your clay according to the instructions for your brand of polymer clay. If you want to avoid shiny marks on the bottom of your meat, set the clay into a pile of baking soda on the surface of your baking tile before you bake the clay.
When your deli meats have 'cured' in the oven, allow them to cool to the point you can handle them, then cut small thin slices of the clay before it has completely cooled. This method allows you to cut very fine slices keeping the 'texture' of the clay intact. If you try to cut the slices before baking the clay, you will smear the colors.
If you wish to show whole sections of the sausage as well as slices, save some of the sausage unsliced, then apply a thin layer of semigloss or matte acrylic medium, or a thin coat of pva glue. When this coating is still slightly tacky, dust the sausage casing with fine powdered chalk or pastel to create a realistic casing which matches the the sausage type.
As you become more experienced you'll be able to match an entire range of deli specials from head cheese through pates. Have fun!