How to Make Fake Food Displays

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Fake food displays have a number of practical purposes, from restaurant and supermarket cases, to retail store setups, to theater props. While the number of techniques and materials used to create these displays are a limited only by the imaginations of the artists creating them, here are a few quick and easy methods that use readily available materials and uncomplicated techniques.

  • Spray shellac on some real foods. While not technically "fake," this method will make real food inedible, permanent and suitable for display. Shellac is a rubbery varnish that can be purchased at any hardware store. This technique tends to make foods like wet or oily, so it works best for things that already have a sheen to them.

  • Cut green leafy vegetable shapes out of green fabric. Darker vegetables work best for this, especially when made from fine-textured fabric like silk. Spray with some heavy-duty, flexible hairspray to give the fake leaves some body.

  • Use upholstery foam to create bread products and cake. After cutting the shape you want, get the color right by coating the foam in diluted acrylic paint.

  • Create fake icing using joint compound. Both the powdered and pre-mixed forms, which are available at hardware stores, look similar to shortening icing and can be colored with food coloring in the same manner. The "frosting" will dry hard.

  • Mix solid, fake drinks in real cups. In order to do this, buy a fake "water" resin kit (used for permanent fake and dried flower arrangements) wherever floral craft supplies are sold. These kits consist of resin (plastic) mix with a catalyst to be added to make the plastic harden. You can make any kind of fake drink by adding drink mix powder before the resin hardens, or use cornstarch to make fake milk. You can also add food coloring and pour the resin into a dessert cup for a fake gelatin dessert.

  • Build fake ground hamburger from papier-mache paste. Shred old paper (tissue and paper towels are best) into tiny pieces, then mix well with some white glue, water and reddish-brown acrylic paint. Form patty-shaped lumps and allow them to dry.

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