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What you’ll need...

  • PVA glue (and an old yoghurt pot to put it in)

  • Paint brush

  • Craft knife and a board or mat to safely cut on

  • Pot of water

  • Paints (preferably acrylic but any poster paint will do)

  • Kitchen towel

  • Tissue paper (either packing tissue or loo roll)

  • Cardboard (thick, from a packaging box)

  • Paper cupcake cases

  • A plate to serve your food on (this could be a paper plate if you have one)

Suitable for ages 8-14 (you may need adult supervision for any cutting) Time guideline: 45-60 minutes

The props department often have to create life-like food that can be used night after night for performances. It would be impractical and messy to have real food on stage, so prop makers find clever ways of making food props that look like the real thing. You can make your own food that looks good enough for the Mad Hatter’s tea party by just having a look at objects and recycling in your house in a different way. Prop makers experiment and test things to find the method that works best for the prop they are making. Everyday materials found in packaging such as polystyrene sheets and blocks or washing-up sponges, and any material with an interesting texture can be carved, moulded and painted to look like an item of food. Here are instructions to make two food items, but you may want to try making other things yourself.


First let’s make the sandwiches for our tea party. You will need thick cardboard for this. We are going to make slices of bread, so cut the cardboard box into pieces roughly the size of bread slices. Glue two or three pieces together in a stack to give you the right thickness. Make as many slices as you want – later we will be cutting each slice into halves for triangular sandwiches.


Next, on your thick stacks of card, draw out the shape of a slice of bread. You might want to make yourself a template to draw around so each slice is the same. Then, cut them out using the craft knife (ensure you do this onto a chopping board or cutting mat), and mind your fingers! You may need some adult supervision for this.


Next, with PVA and a little water on your paint brush, cover the pieces of bread on one side and on the edges with glue. Take a sheet of kitchen towel/paper and stick this to the glued areas. Press it firmly down on the flat side with the palm of your hand and gently smooth it out to even out any pattern the paper may have on it. Then with more water and PVA on your paint brush, smooth the kitchen paper around the crusts so that you smooth out any folds. Now leave your slices to dry while you prepare your filling.


See what you can find to make your filling from recycled materials. We’ve used some foam sheet packing material from a packet of ham and tissue paper from packaging for lettuce. Paint your chosen material with acrylic paint to replicate the filling. Make sure you blend in colours to look as realistic as possible.


Once your bread slices are dry, slice them diagonally to make triangles and add a little more kitchen paper into the cut edge of the cardboard to cover any gaps neatly (but trying to make it look like the cut edge of a slice of bread). Now you can paint the slices to look like bread. Use white with shades of brown or yellow. Play around with colours on scraps of paper first to get the right shades for the bread and the crusts. Use a dabbing technique with your paintbrush to gradually add colour. The texture of the kitchen paper should help make your model look like bread.


Now the fun part – making your sandwich! Arrange the filling between two slices and glue in place with PVA. Remember the filling will only be seen at the edges, so try and make sure it looks best at the edge. You can add as much detail as you like at this stage. Finally, arrange your sandwiches on a plate.


To make the cakes, take your paper cupcake case and some of your tissue paper. Shape some of the tissue paper in your hands, tucking the edges under and into the middle to create a shape like the top of a cupcake that is the right size to fit into your cake case, with a dome in the middle. When you are happy with the shape, glue in place in the paper case with a blob of PVA glue.


Now take some more tissue and cut out a circle. You could draw around a glass or mug as a template. Gently coverthe circle in watery PVA andcarefully paste it over the top of the tissue dome to create a smooth papier mâché cake top. You can add several layers if you want to achieve a really smooth top. Poke the edges of the tissue paper top into the case, so that the cake looks like it has been baked in the case.


Once the tops have dried, you can paint them to look like cupcakes and decorate them. We’ve added a layer of white paint first as a base, then painted the cake top to look like sponge. You can then use PVA mixed with some coloured paint mixed in and drip it over the cake top to look like icing. For the cherry, we’vemade a ball of tissue, covered it tightly in cling film, and painted it with red paint mixed with PVA. You could also try scrunching PVA-soaked tissue or cotton wool into a long length and curling it on top of your cake to look like whipped cream! Experiment to see what works best for you, and try making a whole plate of different cakes.

What I have learned...

  • How to identify and solve design problems DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

  • How to use different processes and materials to create an effective model DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

  • How to use different painting techniques to make your food look realistic ART AND DESIGN

Serve up your tea party, take a picture and share on social media – we would love to see your mouthwatering creations! #kuuoliving

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