How to create a Nautical Themed Mermaid Cake Topper

Have you completed Anne’s Figure Sculpting Class at Craftsy? Mastered the sitting pregnant woman, created free-standing couples with posed arms? Ready to elaborate, create new characters and put it all together into a finished project? In this tutorial series we will create a Nautical Themed topper cake featuring a mermaid, a pirate and a scene to set them in.

mermaid drawing sketch

Materials Used: Gum paste tinted with gel colors; a clay sculpting tool; bamboo skewers; wooden round toothpicks; a piece of styrofoam wrapped in saran; tylose glue; a small knife; petal dust in pink, red and black; 22 gage wires; wire snips and small pliers; a large piping tip (Ateco 802 is a good size); a selection of small paint brushes; your imagination;

  1. 1Let’s start with the mermaid. Using the torso instructions from the Craftsy class, sculpt a female torso. The first modification is that we are sculpting the neck as part of the body because our mermaid isn’t wearing a lot of clothes. Pierce the torso through and through with a skewer and allow to dry. Overnight should suffice.
    Mermaid Gumpaste Torso Tutorial
  2. 2Next, pick a color for the tail. I chose a nice sea-foam blue. Roll on the table until you have a log a little less than twice the length of the torso, tapered on one end. Make a well in the thicker end (I used my fingers but a ball tool works well) and position on a piece of styrofoam. Dab indent with tylose glue and settle bottom half of torso into the tail.

    Mermaid Gum Paste Tails

  3. 3Using a large piping tip (I used an Ateco 802), press into the tail starting at the top in a scale pattern. Don't worry about making it perfect, just give it a nice texture.

    Applying scales to mermaid figure

  4. 4Take a pair of manicure scissors (or other small, thin bladed scissors) and cut the bottom of the tail vertically, about 3/4”. Choose a fin color (I picked one that is similar, but darker than, my tail). Make an oval, flatten with your fingers and sculpt in a few lines using a clay tool or a tooth pick. Dab the opening in the tail with tylose glue and insert the fin. The tail should be dry enough at this point that it will hold the tail in place, or you can support it with pieces of foam or pins.

    Mermaid Figure Apply Tail

    Heads up!You may want to let things dry overnight again, or at least until you can continue without disturbing the work you’ve already done.

  5. 5When you are ready to continue, sculpt out the arms as directed in the Craftsy class. I’ve chosen to make animated arms, but feel free to chose a simpler pose. Insert the arms and glue them to the torso.

    Mermaid Attaching Arms Tutorial

  6. 6Make the head and face as directed in the Craftsy class and attach to neck.

    Mermaid Face Head How to

  7. 7You’ll want to paint her features now as Mermaids have rather a lot of hair and it will be harder to add details after.

    Mermaid Paint Blush on Face

  8. 8Make her shell bra! Flatten two small balls of paste and indent with the clay tool or toothpick, then use tylose glue to attach them. I chose a nice, bright, seaweed green, but pink or lavender are the most popular colors in mermaid couture.

    Mermaid bra sea shells

  9. 9Now, use your hair texturing skills that you picked up in the Craftsy class to give her some long, flowing locks. I did mine in layers to give it the floating feel of being in water for an extra aquatic effect. I made sure my gum paste was extra soft to facilitate a nice draping effect.
    Sugar figure hair mermaid

Tip!Want one more variation on the design? Try making a child version! Same steps, but make the torso less buxom, tail thicker and shorter, and make the head a wee bit bigger! Easy, once you have the basics!

Finished mermaid gumpaste figure

Haven't yet experienced Anne's Figure Sculpting class? Try it out!

Sugar Mermaid Tutorial Figure

Tutorial: How to create a Nautical Themed Mermaid Cake Topper

Skill Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Must Have Tools

Recommended Supplies

  • 22 guage wires
  • Bamboo Skewers
  • Black)
  • Clay Sculpting Tool
  • Gum paste tinted with gel colors
  • petal dust (Pink
  • Piping Tip (Atec 802)
  • Red
  • Small Knife
  • Small Paint Brushes
  • small pliers
  • Styrofoam wrapped in Saran Wrap
  • Tylose Glue
  • wire snips
  • Wooden Round Toothpicks
  • Your imagination!

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Anna Puchalski

Anna Puchalski

Anna is a classically trained sculptor and illustrator who started her career in cake decorating with Ron Ben Israel in 2000. Since then she has worked for a number of well known cake studios in the New York area doing complex sugar work and design. Her specialties include freehand painting,...

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11 thoughts on “How to create a Nautical Themed Mermaid Cake Topper

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  3. This is very stunning. I have never used a styrofoam to make figures on as I dont understand how to remove the figure from the styrofoam to fix on the cake. Could u plz help me on how to do it?Doesnt the figure get damaged when removing?

    • The styrofoam is wrapped in saran plastic. Once the figure has dried completely (about three days if you use gum paste) all you have to do is gently pull the figure free. The armature (usually a wire, wooden skewer or toothpick) should come away with the figure. If it sticks and the figure pulls away from the armature, it can be reinserted before attaching the figure to the cake. Hope that helps, and glad you like the tutorial!

  4. Pingback: Under the Sea Themed Cakes: 8 Cakes That Make a Splash

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