Today I sat down to design a new cutter and a new class for our students here at PCB-U. I like to do a full test run before I make vector files and send them off to be turned in to an acrylic cutter for fondant or gum paste. And one way for me to do that is to make a stamp using royal icing and a piece of foamcore.
Heads up!: If you are interested in learning to make your own stamps I recommend checking out Kate Sullivan Art of Painted Cakes over at Craftsy!
The idea for this project is to make a versatile plaque that could be "dressed up" to meet different design needs from princess to sweet sixteen to fashionista. I love creating my own characters for cakes, but not everyone draws in the same style, so having cutters and templates makes the process much easier.
Once I've made the stamp and allowed it to dry, I can start using it. These stamps have a limited lifetime, but I should be able to get at least ten imprints before I need to repair it or make a new one. I'm using fondant for my tests as I imagine that's what we'll be working with when we use the cutter - especially if we decorate cookies this way.
Tip! Gum paste may also work with the stamp, but it might damage the stamp sooner (i.e. you may not get as many uses out of the imprint)
It's important to keep in mind that the art will be reversed. It often looks weird to me the first time I see it unless I flip it when I make the photocopy (in this case, I didn't). I rolled my fondant fairly thick, about 1/8".
I used a craft knife to cut out around the outline. The final cutter will do this automatically.
I added eyes into the imprint, but on one of the samples I cut out the eyes and filled them with white fondant.
I used a little bit of black fondant rolled into a noodle to give one for my samples dramatic eye lashes.
I use a clay tool to texture the hair. If you've taken Anne's Figure Modeling class on figure modeling then you might already be familiar with this. It's a very versatile technique.
This is where we can really start to get creative. I like to twist my sections of hair to imitate various styles.
A formal up-do will make this particular piece seem fancy even though I am not making a full figure with a dress.
My other person is getting straight hair. I think it will suit her fancy lashes. I make the sections of hair the same way, but give them a pull after texturing, mimicking long, straight hair.
I have to be careful not to get too carried away with long hair, after all , these are just busts and I don't want there to be more hair than dress.
Now I can start painting! I use brown gel food color thinned with water and small brush. You might think that the tinier the brush, the better point -- but actually the best brushes for this sort of work have long bristles that come to a point. Brown gives a softer outline than black while still having nice contrast and definition. I try to use black minimally for painting faces, reserving it mainly for makeup and the pupils of the eye.
The figure on the left required me to paint in the whites of her eye. I used white gel food color for this. Make sure you shake the bottle first or it will be too thin to paint with. The irises are done with gel color also. Make sure you are thinking about where she is looking when you paint the eyes in! The character on the left has guides but the one on the right was a bit more challenging.
I paint the lips in a little at a time, making layers of color. This gives them dimension and a less "made up" look to the face.
Now that the irises are dry I can paint the pupils. Well, the girl on the right gets them painted in, anyway. Because the imprint is so deep, I have to improvise for Lefty.
I use a small ball of black fondant which a flatten between my fingers to make the pupils.
Once that's done and all the painting is dry, we can move on.
Using petal dust and a soft brush, gently blush the cheeks with a pale pink. This adds dimension and life to the face. If I am making a baby or if I want the character to seem especially cheerful, I might also blush the nose and forehead ever so slightly.
My dramatic figure on the right also gets a wee bit of green eyeshadow. Applied in the same manner as the blush.
Even with a bust, there is enough of the body to give the impression of a dress. Roll fondant as thin as possible without it tearing. This has to imitate fabric! I don't have a measurement for this, just as thins as possible while still being workable.
Making clothes in fondant is a little like doing draping in sewing. I gather the ends of the strip and arrange it until it looks nice.
It's the little details that make all the difference! I added a knot to the front of her bodice and ribbons in her hair.
You can get quite modern with the dress if you like!
Heads up! Anne's Craftsy Dress Cake Class has even more techniques for making dresses - this time in 3D form!
Or add a tiara. Once I'm finished I airbrush the characters lightly with alcohol to remove any powdered sugar residue and also to set the food colors.
Tip!The alcohol makes everything a little darker and less matte, so keep that in mind as you work.
From just one stamp I can make so many different characters, something for every occasion! And it was fun! I few small adjustments and I think I'm ready to have my cutter made!
Tutorial: Princess Plaque Tutorial
Skill Level: Advanced/ Beginner/ Intermediate
- Assorted Piping Tips
- Clay Sculpting Tool
- Exacto knife
- Luster Dust
- petal dust
- Small Paint Brushes
- Tylose Glue
- vegetable shortening
- Your imagination!
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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,...