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FAUX FOOD FOR A SUMMER WHITE HOUSE

Provisioning George Washington's Philadelphia Retreat

Deshler-Morris House

Photos: HistoricFauxFoods.com

In the summers of his Presidency in the then-national capitol of Philadelphia, George Washington retreated to the cooler and healthier environs of the Deshler-Morris House in Germantown, just north of the city. Now managed as part of the National Park Service's Independence National Historical Park, the building that served as Washington's first summer White House has recently undergone extensive restoration work and is now open to the public. Sandy Levins of Historic Faux Foods was commissioned to provision its kitchen area with authentic period fare.

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The concept was to fill the mansion's prep kitchen with uncooked foods that would become typical meals for the President, his family and guests. Six chickens were required; their creation began with real chickens (above, left) coated with multiple layers of latex to create highly-detailed molds. The finished molds (above, right) were then filled with plaster and allowed to harden.
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When the reusable latex mold was peeled off the casting, a plaster replica of the real, uncooked chicken was revealed (above, left). Multiple molds were made so the faux chickens were different. The molds were carefully cleaned and preserved for future use (above, right).
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The six plaster chickens were then sealed, primed and given their first coats of paint (above, left). Final detailing resulted in six faux chickens (above, right).
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Raw vegetables that would have been available in Philadelphia in the late 18th-century were also part of the tableau. Included were cucumbers sculpted and carved from styrofoam sealed with Mod-Podge and painted (above, left), and a variety of sculpted beans (above, right).
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Fresh fruit was a delicacy for 18th-century households and the President and Mrs. Washington had access to some of the best. Peachs and plums grown across the Delaware River in New Jersey were a regional favorite. Here, faux peaches and plums were sculpted from styrofoam, covered with Creative PaperClay, and detailed to look like the real thing.
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A main meat item requested was a haunch of lamb. A real leg of lamb was acquired and molded in specially-reinforced layers of latex (above, left) to create a master mold that was filled with plaster.
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After removal from its mold, the highly-detailed plaster leg of lamb was sealed and painted in multiple layers of paint (above, left) to replicate the look of raw meat and rich layers of fat complete with a bone protruding from one end (above, right).

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Sandy@HistoricFauxFoods.com

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