About Me

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Durham, NC, United States
My name is Veronica and I own Southern Gold Leaf Cakes. I opened my home-based business in 2008. I am a licensed and inspected home bakery specializing in custom cakes. Since all cakes are made to order there are no frozen cakes here, only fresh and only home made. I am a self-taught baker but I have a strong art background with years of baking experience. It is the most rewarding feeling in the world when you can apply your skills to do something you love. To see my cake creations and view our yummy menu visit us at www.southerngoldleafcakes.com!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cold Porcelain that Worked

I've written a few times about working with cold porcelain but I don't think I ever really decided whether I liked it or not. I believe this is the case mostly because it wasn't working for me and I really wanted to like it but it wasn't giving me a reason too.
My most recent wedding cake needed a topper that was a keep sake and it was very specific. I just felt that doing a gumpaste topper this time wasn't the way to go. Once again I turned to the cold porcelain.
I've done some research and I know it can be purchased in the store, ready to go but I'm a "do-it-myself" kind of person, a deconstructionist if you will, because I like to know how things are made. Because quite frankly, sometimes, it's easier to whip something up in the kitchen at midnight than to wait until the stores open at 10 am the next day and because when you're learning something new you don't want to spend a lot of money. So while yes there are certain items I will buy this doesn't need to be one of them; not until I have declared with 100% certainty that I can't make it myself.
So here we are trying again. I make the porcelain using one of two recipes I have and turns out great. I sculpt my little birds and set them aside to dry and wait to see what happens.
After 12 hours of drying things look good. I'm pumped. After 24 hours of drying I'm starting to see the tiniest little hairline cracks. I think, "I'll just patch these with some more porcelain and see if that works." It doesn't. Within another day there are more cracks, they're bigger and I realize this isn't going to work. Time to do some Internet work.
After searching a bit for artist who work in cold porcelain or forums of the same I'm not getting very excited as it seems I may be out of luck. As a last ditch effort I turn to Facebook. I find someone there, Cold Porcelain Art,  who is willing to answer my questions  for me!
It seems the reason my figurines kept cracking was that my recipe included water. Since cold porcelain is an air dry product, like some clays, it will crack as the moisture is removed and it shrinks.
You can see the split at shrinkage.
OK. I have a second recipe that doesn't use water and we give it a try. I create my figurines and then wait and watch. Perfection! Here's what I also found with this recipe that was different than the first one. The consistency of the second batch was much more like working with gumpaste and felt much more familiar. The previous batch and recipe always felt much too soft and I never felt like I could get a good sculpt with it.
My birds were sculpted and took about 3 days to dry. I noted also that there was much less shrinkage than before; another plus. So I now have three sets of figurines to play with - two that can't be used because of cracking and "the keepers" that need to be colored and sealed. Given the fact that I have extras I can experiment with pastels and acrylics and see what I like.
acrylic and sealed
I've never really worked with pastels but I've done a lot of charcoal work and it's basically the same principal just with color.  I did like the look of pastel on the porcelain, however, in this case the acrylic gave me the color and the look I wanted.   Birds are painted and sealed and have successfully done their job as toppers. 
Double Happiness wedding cake with cold porcelain bird topper
I think I"m starting to like cold porcelain! 


  1. The birds are so cute!! Great job!!

  2. Cutting the recipe down by one quarter allowed many more experimental batches to work with. The one I've settled on is 1.5 oz of arrow root
    2 oz of Alennes tacky glue
    3/4 tblsp of mineral oil
    2 mL of clycerine (use a baby's medicine dispenser from walgreens)
    2 pinches of white powered tempera as a neutral starting point to color later.