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clayqueen
05-06-2010, 10:52 AM
A question for any of you ladies who make cake toppers, how thick do you make it?
And how do you package your topper to protect this fraglie piece of your work?

I made the topper in my avatar for a friends wedding, the veil gose from the back of the head down to the topper stand.
She told me the veil has cracked in the middle to say i was devastated is an understatment. She said it was only a fine crack and the topper was still beautiful but i was so upset.
I had attached as much of the veil to the dress to protect it from braking without destorying the effect.
I was worried about the pieces not attached but to my suprise it was the middle of the veil firmly attatched to the dress that snapped.

I made it using my pasta machine on the second to thinest setting
I posted it first class delivery royal mail marking it as fragile and hold this way up
The lady at the desk roughly threw the box into the big bag and to my horror i heard it land with a thud at the bottom

Next time i will use courier but i had printer issues so couldnt print of my own deliver stickers.

I packed it so carefully using a polystyrene base to keep the topper firmly in place and pieces to go around a extra protection, shreaded paper bubble wrap and cardboard.

The clay was baked well and placed on carefully and the rest of the topper was in solid condition apart from the vail when my friend recieved it.

I am about to begin a 3rd topper for another friend, everyone is getting married apart from me lol
Scared to make the vail in case it happens again

I have seen so many wedding topper websites demonstrating much finer more fragile looking veils compleatly free from attachement apart from the top of the head
I keep wondering how on earth they manage to package it so it dosnt brake.

Any advice and tips would be much appreciated thank you;)

nomilou-miniatures
05-06-2010, 11:15 AM
have you ever tried using liquid polymer clay to make the vail? it will be flexible afterwards so wont brake, thats what iv used in the past

clayqueen
05-06-2010, 11:54 AM
Thank you for replying, i do apologise for sounding a bit thick
But i though it was for adhesive and picture transfer properties
How do you go about using it to create a vail do you mix it with solid clay?

ejralph
05-06-2010, 02:04 PM
I am so sorry to hear your topper veil broke.

You can do things to minimise the risk of breaking, firstly always use a strong clay formulation like Cernit (http://www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=17_143) or Fimo Classic (http://www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=17_40&products_id=149).

Also, thin sheets of clay really are not going to hold up to too much abuse, so where possible always make the clay as thick as you can. Adding Fimo Mix Quick (http://www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=17_32&products_id=153) can increase the flexibility of baked clay.

Lastly, of course, you need to package any items really well if they are going by royal mail OR by courier. None of them will really care two hoots about fragile or "this way up" stickers. Most courier firms say that packages need to survive being dropped from waist height.

So, if you are packing a topper, you need some way that the topper will remain motionless in the box if dropped or turned upside down. Even if that means somehow tethering it by its base to the base of the box. Any and all space around the topper needs to be filled with packing peanuts, bubble wrap or some other void fill material to absorb any shocks. Full enough of packing that you have use a little effort to hold the flaps of the box down whilst you tape it in place, if you know what I mean.

What you basically need to do is to prevent as much movement of the item you are packing and also give it good cushioning all around - although it sounds from your post that you did exactly this anyway and I think you were just very unlucky.

It isn't always easy and I am sure many designs need to be modified a bit when you know you have to send them by post rather than a customer collecting them. Because even when you do everything you can to pack things well, there is always the odd package that seems to go through the wars on its journey.

Sending stuff by Special Delivery rather than first class might help also. The special delivery stuff is sent separately to the normal mail. And I know with the normal mail, the packages roll around in huge tumble dryer type things as they are being sorted. I don't know for sure, but I don't think the Special Delivery packages have quite such a strenuous time of it!

clayqueen
05-06-2010, 02:15 PM
Thank you for your reply Emma i am greatful for your advice!
I do not use Fimo i use premo sculpey polymer clay after a lot of research i found this was the best clay to use for toppers.

I made sure that the box was packed to the rafters with protective layers all around and on the top of the topper.
I tested it and the topper didnt move inside the box

I know making the veil thicker would make it stronger but i was trying to be authentic with the look of a real veil
Again looking at wedding topper websites they also use very very thing clay on thier veils.
Is special delivery much more expensive then first class ?

silvermaid
05-06-2010, 02:32 PM
You could always use real lace to make the veil, just a thought.
Special delivery is abou an extra 5.

Melanie

clayqueen
05-06-2010, 03:16 PM
Thank you for your reply Melanie :-)
Ouch to the extra 5!!!

I guess i want to keep it to being 100% clay but its an idea i may revise in the future

ejralph
05-06-2010, 09:23 PM
It sounds like you did everything right - just very unlucky.

Premo is a strong clay - just no polymer clay is really that strong in very thin sheets. And while thin pieces are fine on sculptures, toppers etc when they are being used as intended, it is the posting of the things that is the fly in the ointment really isnt it! My mum has the same trouble with her sugarcraft wedding cake toppers.

The special delivery is more expensive - but really if that is the best way to send it, then it costs what it does and the customer just needs to pay more for the shipping (assuming you are selling the toppers that is, or indeed intend to in the future)

When you think about it, after all the work you put into the toppers (which are very gorgeous and obviously something you worked hard on) - well, you need Special Delivery also for its compensation element too if anything goes wrong and also its guarentee of Next day delivery.

Sending by normal first class post only allows you to insure the item up to 41 quid or so. With Special Delivery you also get insurance of up to 500 quid included. So if something did go wrong, for example a topper didn't arrive in time for a wedding or it arrived broken and you needed to refund a customer, you could put in a realistic claim to cover your losses.

I must admit, I thought the same as Melanie about the lace. I think when it comes to polymer clay, you just have to work with the medium not against it. Doing very fine veils from clay and having them strong enough to survive being posted out is quite a tall ask and it might just be one of those areas where you will have to compromise the design a little to get the right look.

This doesn't have to be a bad thing though - as with all creative problems you could probably turn it to your advantage.

I wonder if some Brides to be actually have swatches or samples from their wedding dress material, bouquet ribbon or whatnot that they could send you before hand?

Then you could make the veil on their topper out of the same material as their dress and what was a problem suddenly becomes another great way to personalise the topper for the bride.

Just thinking aloud - but I think the general message is, there is no shame in going back to the drawing board if need be when we work. Heck, I have my own parking space at the drawing board I revisit it so often!

Given that there really isn't anything you could do to package or protect your topper more, and you obviously used a good clay and followed good working principles in keeping as much of the veil on the body as possible - well at that point, sending a topper with a veil like that will always be a gamble and somewhat out of your hands. And it just might be one of those gambles that is just too risky for something as important as a cake topper.

Especially when you are obviously someone that cares genuinely about the toppers you make and the person receiving them. The last thing you want is to have that "will it, won't it" worry about the topper arriving in one piece I imagine?

Emma

nomilou-miniatures
05-06-2010, 10:13 PM
hi again, yep your right the liquid stuff is totally for doing those things, but it can have so many more uses, iv no idea how to get a pic on here to show you an example of one iv made before but basically you need an oven proof dish, a tub of liquid clay and some wire, you twist the wire to form a loop (long oval shape) and place it on the dish, cover the wire completley with the liquid clay filling all of the centre of the wire, bake it, when it come out allow to cool and trim the edges so that there is a small rim of clay around the outside of the wire but the wire is still fully encased, you can then bend and shape this to fit onto the brides head, i would attach it to an uncooked head as you can push it into the head to help get a good fit, its so hard to describe without pictures, you need to remove the veil before baking the bride or it will melt away again, but the impression of where it will sit will be cooked into place as the bride cooks meaning all you have to do once she is out and cool is glue the veil into place, sorry iv not explained this very well :-s

ejralph
05-06-2010, 10:37 PM
I think you explained it really well - I can totally visualise what you mean.

I always forget how versatile products like Fimo Gel are. You can add in glitters, deco beads or perfect pearl powders too of course if you want to make sparkly veils or shimmery fairy wings.

Emma

nomilou-miniatures
05-06-2010, 11:19 PM
yep totally! the only down side to it in this situation is its more unprodictable than the firm clays and slippery obviously so extra objects might decide to walk a little but hey that just adds to the charm right?

clayqueen
07-06-2010, 02:02 PM
Thank you everyone who has replied to my post your advice is very greatfuly recieved.
I have made my first two and about to start my 3rd toppers for friends , i am training myself up to be of good enough standard to sell commercially
I have given it some thought and i think the fabric veil could be a viable option to consider.
Im about to start my 3rd topper for a friend tonight smaller then my previous two
Fingers crossed with some more thought i can produce a veil that is stronger and able to withstand postage

Pauline@weddingtreasures
08-06-2010, 05:52 PM
I only ever use netting to make the veils otherwise a clay veil would hide some of the beautiful details on the back of the dress.

I hand sew the veils and then pop them on with a tiny drop of superglue.

Plus I always send toppers by special delivery. The price includes insurance and it is guaranteed next day delivery before 1pm so does not get mixed in with all the other parcels. I charge 9.50 for this but do not make any profit on the postage as the boxes I use are fairly large and it normally costs me between 8.50 and 9.50 depending on the weight of the toppers. The bit left over from the postage costs goes towards bubble wrap, selotape, packing peanut, labels etc. I would always recommend you send your toppers via special delivery as its just heartbreaking if they arrive broken after all the work spent on them.

Pauline :)

Kookizu
09-06-2010, 06:19 PM
Sculpey also make a product called Bake & Bend - http://www.sculpey.com/products/clays/sculpey-superflex-bake-bend - which might be useful for delicate shapes?

I've not used it yet and it seems pretty hard to get hold of in the UK. I'm sure I've seen some other brands of 'flexible' polymer clay around though...

clayqueen
10-06-2010, 12:36 AM
Pauline its lovely to hear from an experianced topper crafter
The more i looked into it the more i am leaning towards using a fabric veil
Your right a clay one covers the back for the dress and its to fragile
Mind i am not kidding when i say i have no sewing skills

And any customer wanting a custom made topper, would hopefully pay the extra for delivery for it to turn up in one piece.

Kookizu thank your that link i will look into the clay further :-0)

ko-dag
10-06-2010, 01:21 PM
Hi, I agree with Pauline. I've never tried with clay veils as they would cover most of the head and the dress. I use organza for veils and it works perfectly well.

clayqueen
11-06-2010, 12:35 AM
Organza
Thank you for the tip Ko- dag i'll look into finding some :-0)

Pauline@weddingtreasures
11-06-2010, 07:35 AM
I have tried organza but dont like the way it can sometimes 'come away' at the edging so I just use netting. I buy it in three colours (white, cream and ivory) and it last for ages. If you want I can try and find the buyer from ebay I purchased it from and pass you the link?

Pauline :)

clayqueen
11-06-2010, 10:38 AM
Oh thank you so much for offering to help me, yes can i take you up on your offer :-)