Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Perfect Cut

In the DVD "Creative Designs: Silhouette" that comes with the Silhouette Cake machine, I show how to make the perfect gum paste, roll it out, store it and then get a very nice cut. Some people still have a difficult time getting a clean, smooth cut. Also, getting a soft, fresh gum paste to cut cleanly. Here are a few more tips to help cut your designs successfully.

First of all, the knife you use only needs to extend out the end of the  blade housing unit the depth of the gum paste. The replacement blades that fit the Silhouette housing unit are the Cricut Cake Blades or the deep cut blade. Notice that the Cricut Cake blade is slightly longer then the deep cut blade. If you need more of the knife blade to stick out then try the Cricut Cake blade.

The blade only needs to extend out of the housing the depth of the gum paste. This is true for any brand of cutter you use. You want to just cut the gum paste, not make deep cuts into the mat. This comes with some practice. Work with some gum paste rolled out the depth you would normally use and try different depth settings on the blade housing. You may also need to adjust the pressure setting. This can be a little tricky with the Silhouette. It was made to cut paper, not gum paste, so use some common sense for the settings. In the controller window I usually select a thick medium, such as card stock. I also usually select a heavy pressure. Again, getting the correct setting takes a few practice cuts. Once you feel you have the correct setting, make a note of it for future projects.

This blade holder is set to cut a frosting sheet. The knife is barely sticking out of the end of the housing.

This blade holder is set to cut a thicker piece of gum paste. You can see the knife sticking out of the end of the housing. Again, the depth of the knife would be adjusted to the depth of the gum paste. This knife is the Cricut Cake knife, and because it is slightly longer, it can extend a bit farther. Notice that this blade holder has a second O ring. I found that I needed to raise the blade holder up a bit in the machine when using the Cricut Cake knife.

Traditionally I roll my gum paste to a #7 or 8 with my Kitchen Aid pasta roller. I apply shortening to my mat and then put my gum paste on the mat. I use a paper towel to wipe away any excess shortening, smooth out any air pockets on the gum paste and polish the top of the gum paste. I don't want to rub the gum past so hard that it tears, but with enough pressure to help it stick to the mat. If you find that your gum paste is sliding around on the mat when you are cutting out designs you may want to try adding some "tooth" or scratch marks to the mat. Gum paste tends to slide around on a smooth mat. An older, well used mat works the best because of all the cut marks in it. These cut marks give the gum paste something to grab onto. You can achieve the same results with a new mat by scratching the surface with some 80 grit sandpaper. By lightly scratching the surface of the cutting mat you are taking away the smooth surface and the gum paste has something to hold onto and not move around.

If you are still having a difficult time getting the perfect cut, then you may want to try the paper method. I attach my gum paste or frosting sheet to card stock paper of the print and cut method. I get great results with my cut images and it just seemed logical that I would get the same great results cutting gum paste designs with the gum paste attached to paper.

First, the paper must be a heavy weight paper, such as card stock. I also use legal size manila folders and cut them to fit my machine. This is an area that as a cake decorator we use common sense. The majority of our food comes to use in some kind of paper container. Be sure you use clean paper, especially paper that does not have writing on it.

The gum paste is attached to the paper the same way you would apply it to your cutting mat. You need to apply the shortening to the paper in the area the gum paste will be put. Another method is to apply the shortening to the backside of the gum paste. I like this method because I am know that I am covering all of the gum paste surface.

I treat frosting sheets and gum paste the same way. The only difference is the depth of the blade. The knife only needs to stick out far enough to cut through the gum paste or frosting sheet. With this technique the goal is to cut my design but not cut through the paper. Practice to get the blade depth setting that gives you the correct cut.

Here are 2 frosting sheets that have a design printed on them. Use a printer with edible coloring. I have found that the Canon printer works the best with my method. When you apply a frosting sheet or gum paste to a piece of paper and try to run it through an Epson printer, the Epson sees it as a paper jam. My larger Epson photo printer works, but the smaller Epson does not. You can print just a frosting sheet, but not a frosting sheet attached to a piece of card stock.

The supplies you need are 1) soft bristle brush, 2 )shortening, 3) card stock or heavy paper, and a soft paper towel to smooth and attach the gum paste or frosting sheet.

The frosting sheet or gum paste attached to the paper.

The paper is placed under the rollers.

When you apply the gum paste or frosting sheet to the card stock, make sure it will clear the rollers.

Cut out the design and remove the excess gum paste. You can save the design on the card stock until you need to put it on the cake. I will cut out all my designs leaving them on the card stock, stack them on top of each other and store them in the freezer. When I need them, I take them out of the freezer and in a few minutes they are ready to apply to a cake. My gum paste recipe is very firm, so the designs are easy to handle. I have found with this technique I can use a softer gum paste and get the same great results.

A frosting sheet that has a design printed onto it. I treat the frosting sheets the same way I treat a piece of gum paste. When the design is cut out, I store it on the card stock until I need to use it.

Using the paper method has several advantages. First, you will get very clean cuts. You will be able to cut very intricate designs. You can store your designs on the card stock. This is handy because you do not need to remove the designs from a cutting mat and put them on another mat. Because you are using the paper as your carrier sheet, you do not need to worry with cutting mats.

If you are using a Cricut Create, trim the paper to the same width of the cutting mat. Be sure that the gum paste is applied to the mat so the rollers will not roll over the gum paste. If you are using a bigger Cricut machine, you can tape the paper with the gum paste attached to a carrier mat. Make practice cuts to get the best results. In my class the students use the Cricut create machine. I have found that if the pressure is set on medium and the blade housing is set on 4 we get the best results. The same applies to the other Cricut machines.

If you are using the Silhouette Cake machine and the Make the Cut program a few settings in the print preference window need to be changed.

In the Specify user Size window, select the length at 10.75 and do not check the carrier sheet. Whatever paper size you use, make sure you select a size just a bit shorter then the actual size of the paper. The paper is acting as your carrier sheet.

Practice with this technique. Your goal is to set the knife depth to just cut through the gum paste and not the paper. You will be able to cut very intricate designs in any size with this technique.