Since I’m making cakes for 2 different celebration, I had to make 2 sets of all the main characters in the movie, The Little Mermaid. The set for the cupcakes would be mini-figurines, and the set for the 9″cake would be bigger. I also had to think of different setup for each set, and other decoration for the rest of the cupcakes, and setup for the other cake. Each 80 cupcakes will have their own topper, and the main characters from this movie I’m making are only .. 4? The rest would be undersea things I could think of. Finished cakes will be another post. Here, I just wanted to share the making of Ariel..and some fondant/gumpaste tips.
First, prepare the gumpaste, let it rest for 24hours before using. Knead it well after that resting period. The longer you let it rest, the more kneading you’ll have to do to make it more pliable. A trick is to defrost it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time, no longer. You can always repeat as necessary. The heat will make it easier to knead. Figure out how many colors you will need, and divide the gumpaste accordingly. Next, color all the gumpaste portions. This process is easier done at one seating. The coloring process, I call it. You’ll clean up the mess at one go, and saves time by preparing all the colors before you actually start with the molding. For me, it is quite messy, as I had two little helpers, each wants a portion to color with!
After the coloring process, you may proceed with molding. It is easier to do it right away since the dough will be soft from all the kneading. But you can always store it and mold it much later like I do. Just remember to knead it well before you mold it into shapes. Heat from your hand will be enough if it is a small portion.
ALWAYS keep each portion individually wrapped in saran wrap, and then covered in ziploc (squeeze the air out first before sealing!) and an airtight container while you work. I always get interrupted when I’m molding, and it could be as frequent as every 5 minutes. With this method of storage, I keep all the gumpaste fresh and pliable. Keep an extra saran wrap ready and handy at the side to quickly cover work surface & half finished figurines.
Before you begin, prepare your working surface, lay out all tools and have that container of gumpaste nearby. Also, rub a little shortening on your work surface, and your hands to keep it from sticking. A little goes a long way. I don’t use cornstach or icing sugar for dusting, shortening works fine for me. You may also want to prepare the drying surface/container now.
The making of Ariel
Step 1: Making the head
Roll a small ball to form the head. Size depends on you. Choose the smoothest surface for the face area. The rest will be covered by hair anyway.
Gently pinch the nose out, and form the eye sockets, forehead, and cheekbones. Just let your creativity and your hands take over. Rub gently to smooth out any areas, and if you made a mistake, simply rub it away and form it again. Next, shape the jawline, and chin. Dont forget the mouth – you may trace this with your tool and draw/paint the lips later. once the head is done, make sure it looks real enough. Handle with care, as any pressure may deform the head and you’ll end up with an egghead! Rest the head by the base – the place where you’ll put the neck on, at an angle so that the jaw is jutting out. Or your head will have square jawlines.
Step 2 – Making the torso
Roll a proportionate amount of gumpaste into a teardrop shape. Flatten out the small end and smooth it out to form the waist. The thicker part will be the shoulders and chest, so shape that into what resembles a person’s shoulders. Make sure they are not too rounded though, or you’ll have a chubby looking Ariel due to the rounded shoulders. Lay it flat on your surface to further smooth it out. Gently form the chest. These will be covered with the seashells bikini top, so you need not make it too real. A gentle peak will do.
Next, take a small amount of gumpaste for the bikini top and roll it into a string. Try and put the string around the chest to gauge the length. Make a mark down the middle, and gently flatten out the part on either side to form the bikini cups. Using a rounded tool helps to make uniform cups, but using your fingers will also do just fine. Shape these into a shell looking bikini top, and let ‘Ariel’ try it on for fit, and adjust from there. Once you’ve got it, fix it to the torso with some gum glue or water, and leave it to dry.
Step 3 – Making the arms
Roll 2 same sized balls – keep your proportion right. It is easier to measure the arms when they are still ‘ball’ sized, compared to measuring finished arms side by side. With the same sized balls, you’ll definitely have the same amount of gumspaste to make the similar sized arms. Same goes if you’re doing legs.
Take a ball, roll it out on your palm, with one end narrower than the other. Make a mark for the inside of the elbows, and bend the arm to whatever pose you want. Shape the wrist and hand.
Step 4: Assemble the body, arms, torso
When all parts are half dry and can hold their shape, you may begin to assemble, starting with the head. You can stick the head to the torso, or you can roll a little gumspaste for its neck. Use gum glue to stick the parts, for water is not enough for these heavy parts. You may also use a tiny toothpick (cut it down!) for extra support, but make sure the recipient of the cake is aware of this choking hazard.
Once everything is attached, lay it down on a piece of foam, or sponge to dry thoroughly. Prop up any limbs with cottons or tissues. Caution: When you let it dry in the lying down pose, the back WILL flatten out. It doesn’t really matter as they will be covered by Ariel’s long locks. But if you are making other figurines that have their back exposed, you do have to let them dry in the upright position.
Step 5: Making the Mermaid’s tail
I totally forgot to snap any pics for this part, but basically, you roll a dough into an elongated teardrop shape proportionate to the torso. Then, depending on the pose you want, you may bent it, or just have it straight. You may also draw traces of scales down her tails. Something like this…
Step 6: Making the hair
Roll out pieces of gumspaste for the hair. The thinner it is, the lighter it will be and won’t weigh down on the head/torso. It is also easier to manage, and you can layer the hair for an even more realistic look. Chunks of dough for the hair is not good- DD did this and it totally weigh the whole body down. Glue the hair to the head like so…(make sure the head is dry first)
sorry, forgot to snap photos again!
I guess that’s all there is to it to make Ariel..Just make sure everything is dry before assembling the torso to the tail (also depends on the pose). And then let it dry some more. Make sure it is covered from dusts, etc, as it will be on a cake.
Now, lets take a peek at Ariel’s gang…
I didn’t do the facial features yet as I planned to draw it on using some royal icing. But I would say using fondant is much easier and nicer looking. I totally blotched the features using the royal icing.. grr… These are all toppers for the cuppies, didn’t take any photos for the bigger cake or any other toppers. *sigh* I do forget myself when I’m in the midst of a project like this!