How to turn ordinary bread and toast into what few will call art, others will call a flagrant display of geekdom and most will call a sign of neurosis.
Our office was quite excited to hear that The Sci-Fi Channel was releasing a limited edition Battlestar Galactica toaster that seared the image of a Cylon's head into the bread. Our first response was "When can we get it?" and the second was "What ridiculous thing can we do with it?" After waiting patiently for Mr. UPS delivery guy for well over a month, we began to wonder which would come first, our toaster or the series finale that would disclose the identity of the fifth Cylon. By the time our piece of wondrous chrome was delivered, both the project and message were quite clear.
Before we start, here is a bit of background for the poor soul who is reading this and does not watch Batttlestar Galactica. The Cylons (bad robots created by humans who turned against humans) were originally a shiny chrome with heads that boasted a large horizontal slot to house their scanning red eye. Resembling a toaster, the name stuck as a derogatory term used by the humans. The Cylons have now evolved into bigger, badder robots and even exact replicas of humans. Out of the twelve human-looking models, many were living among the Colonial fleet (good guys). Four of the "final five" models were revealed this season with the mysterious identity of the last one left to torture us with anticipation.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Unless you have a Centurion with the robotic sealant dispenser and cutting tool option, you'll need all this stuff:
8 x loafs of cheap white bread
6 x 16oz bottles of Mod Podge
4 x 30"x40"x3/16" foam board
1 x packing tape
576 x small sewing push pins
1 x Battlestar Galactica Cylon Toaster
1 x utility knife or foam board cutter
1 x wide paint brush
1 x drywall square
1 x Mana Energy Potion to keep you from nodding off from the boredom of painting toast
Step 2: Make Some Frakking Toast!
The piece we are doing uses 144 pieces of bread, 38 of them toasted. If you do them all in a row, the cylon-shaped plates never cool down and the singed imprints get pretty aggressive. With this assembly line method, I used the toaster setting right in-between "4" and "5". If you toast it too lightly, it looks a bit like Jesus and if it gets too dark, it looks more like Fidel Castro.
Step 3: Dry Out the Bread
To get rid of the initial moisture, I left all my pieces out overnight to get them nice an stale. With bread of this quality, you can actually feel it start to get crunchy just twenty minutes after it has been out of it's package.
Step 4: Seal Side One
Time to seal our bleached-flour goodness! To avoid mold, we will now apply a liberal coat of Mod Podge to seal the bread. As a water-based sealer, I thought Mod Podge would be the least nasty to work with. Maybe not so much. Make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area since this stuff stinks indeed. I put packing paper down on the ground since this goopy stuff seems to get just about everywhere. I added about 10% water to the solution since it is so thick. Use the brush to apply a nice even layer, dabbing it often to fill in all those nooks and crannies as well as the sides. Crank some tunes and drink that Mana Energy Potion around piece number 82, resisting the urge to sweep the entire lot into a garbage bag.
Step 5: Seal Side Two
After leaving your array of sticky bread out to dry for a day, carefully pry them from whatever surface they dried onto and flip them over. Oh yeah, time to paint yet again! Right about now was when I got really happy that I went for this design as opposed to my 8-bit "Last Supper" that was going to use 4,096 pieces. Again, give your second side a day to dry as well.
Step 6: Trim the Foam Board
For this design, you will need a 50"x50" piece of foam board. The best I could find was four 30"x40"x3/16" pieces. Using the drywall square and cutting tool, get your four 25"x25" pieces.
Step 7: Secure the Foam Board Pieces Togethe
If your board was in as good a shape as mine, some of your corners will be totally nerfed while others will look okay. Fit them together so that the best looking corers face the outside. Take a few small pieces of the packing tape to get all your edges lined up nicely.
Step 8: Apply the Large Pieces of Tape
I used a packaging tape gun, but you can manage without. It doesn't have to be perfect as this will be the back of the board.
Step 9: Arrange Your Pieces of Bread
Using the image of the finished product as your reference, lay out all your sealed bread and toast, allowing equal edges on all sides.
Step 10: Apply the Pins to the Toast
Using four pins per piece, secure the edges first in a straight line using the drywall square. All of the pieces will have dried a little bit different, so make sure all of them fit in the middle correctly before securing the edges. About twenty pieces in, I discovered that a thimble would have been a good idea, but a piece of plastic worked as well. Even with the shortest pins I could find, about a third of the length ended up sticking up above the toast after it was secured all the way through the foam board. At a distance, these are too small to see at all, so just be careful not to poke yourself while moving it around. If your foam board is hanging off the edge of your working surface, make sure not to stab yourself on the underside of the board. My fingers ended up looking like a voodoo doll by the time I finished.
Step 11: Hang Up Your Cylon Art
This makes for a great piece of office art and should quickly replace your boss's corporate "MOTIVATION" poster with the guy climbing the cliff, golfing, clubbing baby seals or whatever. Make two holes in the top corners, about two inches in from the edge. Next pound two level nails into your desired exhibition wall measured at the exact distance you made the holes enabling you to hang the piece right over them. You could also frame it, hang it a different way or sleep on the bed of pins like a bakery-loving David Blaine.
Bask in the glory of your bread-art and ask yourself over and over, "Who is the 5th? Who is the 5th?". If your project does not turn into a green mass of fungus before the final episodes of BSG finally air, it will make a great centerpiece for your next frak party.