This month’s food styling technique is all about using food to create letters. Knowing your materials is the key to success in this version of creative food styling.
I had the vision for this squash-tastic Instagram panorama for a while now. Spelling “October” out of spiralized butternut squash seems easy enough, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a smooth of a process as I was hoping.
The first step was locating the font that I envisioned in my head. After a quick internet search, I printed out the word OCTOBER on paper keeping in mind the scale of the gourds I planned to use to finish the look.
When it comes to food styling, scale is extremely important.
Step two involved me tracing the font onto a large piece of paper I planned to use as my backdrop. Then came the tough part, manipulating the material into actual letters.
Food styling technique: know your materials
I knew that an adhesive would be necessary because the spiralized squash was too thin to create the “font” I was going for, the spirals were too tight, and the squash itself, while flexible, was still too rigid to form in the shapes that I wanted.
Hot glue was the initial plan to adhere the squash into the letter pattern I had traced. I quickly learned that hot glue does not work on wet materials. After searching The Hubs workshop for something that would work with a wet surface, I finally settled on bathroom caulking.
Once I switched to the caulking, the food lettering really started to come together.
Practice your technique
While the materials were appropriate for the task, my technique needed some work. By the time I got to the end, I started to get the hang of it. I wound up going back and re-doing the beginning which caused quite a bit of mess.
If hired for a professional job that you’ve never done before, don’t hesitate to practice your technique beforehand.
Once all the letters were filled in, I went back over the entire word, filling in gaps and covering messy spots.
When OCTOBER was finally in place, I set about arranging a selection of gourds in the border areas.
The thing about creating Instagram panoramas is that each frame of the triptych needs to have its own interesting composition. While arranging the gourds I kept this in mind as well as color, shape and scale.
I cannot stress how much my design education helps me every day in my career as a food stylist.
Gourds alone weren’t going to cut it, so I started adding in smaller elements like more spiralized squash and squash seeds. Again, scale is everything, and it’s important to think about using both large and small elements. I also wanted to clearly say “this is written out of squash” so showing some of the “building blocks” of the process was essential
The final step was color correction and retouching. This image needed A LOT of retouching due to the messiness of the caulk and the tearing of the background paper around the parts I needed to re-do.
I think if I implemented this food styling technique again it would go much smoother the second time around. Now that I understand the materials necessary and how the medium acts in practice, I’m confident I would be able to assemble the image in a more efficient manner.
Try new ideas
That’s part of the reason I do these creative exercises. Food styling is about problem solving, and no two days at work are alike. Constantly practicing and trying out new ideas is what sets me apart from other stylists and gives me the confidence to perform well in all types of scenarios.