The Waxpaper Transfer Technique
Amorette’s note: I’m sorry about the ongoing spacing problems. I’m still trying to get the hang of this!
Although it can get a bit effort-intensive, there are a few ways to exactly duplicate a logo, font or photo in your bentos. One of the least expensive ways is to use wax paper and do a transfer.
The best materials for doing wax-transfers are ones that don’t have too much moisture and will slice easily. Fruit roll snacks are sticky but good for duplicating colors; corn tortillas slice more easily than flour ones; sliced cheese also works well. Most lunchmeat doesn’t, because the fibers can split unpredictably and ruin the design.
I have several x-acto blades dedicated to bento use, and those are what I usually use to cut waxpaper transfers. You’ll need your food material, a printout of the design you want to copy (sized the same as you want the final product to be), a good solid cutting surface, well-cleaned x-acto blades and two sheets of waxpaper. You’ll also need a foodsafe stylus for tracing… I’ve grabbed an inkless pen for the photos, but you’re better off with a chopstick or toothpick, depending on the size and intricacy of the design.
First, place your printout on the cutting surface and overlay it with one sheet of wax paper.
Hold the paper steady and trace the letters or design. Press hard, but not hard enough to tear the wax paper.
Your finished tracing will look like a ghost copy of the original. Hold it against a dark surface or up to the light to double-check the lines, and correct things if needed.
Put the other sheet of wax paper on the cutting surface and center the food on top of it. Gently position the paper with the tracing directly above that, adjusting as you need to for discolorations or irregularities in the food. Press down the paper and smooth it gently to achieve a good seal- this will make cutting easier.
Carefully cut along your traced lines. Be careful not to catch the paper on the blade and drag it, and don’t forget the insides of the letters. Peel away the scraps gingerly as you cut.
You can lift small pieces out with the edge of the blade. You can also use the blade sideways as a sort of mini-spatula.
Peel off the wax very carefully- there’s a lot of risk of stretching and tearing at this point. After that, it can be placed on the bento.
I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that it pays to be mindful of where the design is going. Designs cut from fruit roll snacks should be placed on substrate that doesn’t have too much heat or moisture…if the stuff goes on hot rice, for example, it will immediately melt into unrecognizable glop. Corn tortillas laid over rice will curl…although they eventually flatten out, things get a little difficult when you’re trying to finish the bento. Cheese goes well on cheese, egg goes well on egg, and meat goes well on meat.
The waxpaper transfer technique works on pictures as well as fonts. Here’s a rendering of the Taj Mahal destined for a corn tortilla:
…as I said, a little effort-intensive, but worth it if you need to get exact proportions or a photo-accurate logo. Just something to experiment with if you ever have some spare time.