I work in a small museum, and we’re planning a display which involves breadmaking. We’d like to have a loaf of bread sitting on the table for as long as the exhibit runs, which is until December. Of course, preserving a loaf of bread isn’t in our general line of work, so we don’t know what we can use to coat the loaf to ensure it won’t mold.
I have heard of some type of spray preservative, along the lines of some type of silicone, but am unsure of what type to look for.
I’m looking for something along the lines of the matte paint. We can’t use a clear plastic box in this case. The look we’re going for is like a housewife has been baking in the kitchen, and has just stepped out of the room. If possible, I’d like to cut the loaf open, and preserve the slices to lay on a plate.
It is also difficult to convincingly fake a loaf of bread. If at all possible, we’d like to use a real loaf.
Please tell me a little more about the matte paint. Is it applied by brush? How thick is it? Would it give the loaf a “plastic” look?
There are spray and brush on versions, in varying thicknesses. Generally you use several coats, but I don’t have much experience painting bread. The amount you would need to seal something that porous might make it look plasticky, but I don’t know for sure.
My wife made a costume for Burning Man out of bread, and we dealt with this very issue by letting the bread dry out, and then spraying it with shellac / varathane / something like that. This does make the surface shiny, but I think you may be able to get matte shellac. That said, even drying it out might be enough. Dry bread lasts! We still have the outfit, and it’s been 3 years.
Okay, I’m sure you’re wondering. Two big bagels for the bra, and a skirt made of breadsticks. She had a long baguette sword, and did a sort of Xena, bread princess thing. Lots of fun.
When I was in Brownies, we made Christmas decorations with buns covered in glue. After 15 years it still looks exactly the same. We used plain old Elmer’s glue and it came out pretty nice, but a little shiny. If you can get one that dries matte, it should work. I’d let the loaf dry out first and then paint it with the glue.
Unfortunately, no. As a relatively “poor” museum, buying a new loaf of bread every few days would be an unwanted expense, added to the hassle of running to the bakery. None of us are too keen on the idea of baking “from scratch” that frequently, either.
We’ve considered a lot of angles, and we’ve decided that it would probably be best for us to preserve one loaf. The expense for the supplies can be justified because we could use them in other, similar, projects.
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Would the supplies you mentioned be available at any Home Depot-type store, or would I need to visit a craft/specialty store?
A note of warning: a friend of mine bought a ‘millennium loaf’ in december 1999, which was meant for display only. After half a year she suffered a plague of bugs (I don’t have the exact name handy, the ones with a round hard shell, like black larger ladybugs), which upon closer examination turned out to be due to the loaf.
If you want to prevent this, you’d better keep the loaf in a close box with a see-through top. Maybe microwaving might help?
You could try salt dough modelling. Essentially it means baking your own loaf of bread but adding so much salt to the dough, the bread will stay well…well almost forever.
As a kid I used to make jewellery that way.
Salt dough is used as cheap modelling clay, baked, and sometimes painted. I’m not sure the breadyeast can do its work well in salt circumstances, though. But if all you need is something that looks loaflike from the outside and that does not need to be cut open…
You could also ask around local theater departments and prop shops. It’s not uncommon for theater departments to rent or borrow from each other. Maybe you can offer some free advertising for use of a bread prop.