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Build a Monster

We were requested by a client to build a monster for her groom's cake. Wasn't sure how to go about the structure for the creation of a 16" tall figure, but we came up with the following steps:

  • First a trip to Pearl Paint - love that place like a kid in a candy store! We found a 16" wire armature already molded and on a base to work from (cost $26). We bent the wires for the head, arms, and legs into the position we wanted. You can also purchase the wire and mold the armature yourself. A good pair of pliers is needed if you are going to create your own as you'll need a strong gauge wire to support all the materials you will be putting on it.

  • The monster required wings and I wasn't comfortable building the wings with just gumpaste as we had to transport the cake 50+ miles to the venue. So we added additional armature wire around the neck and wrapped in wire mesh. Again, bending the wire so it was super solid and didn't move was an important step so the materials we used to build would not crack.

  • Using the wire mesh, we also added a spine for the monster. Next we covered him completely in royal icing so we had a base for the gumpaste to stick to. In our opinion, the best recipe to make a really hard royal icing is: 8 oz. powdered sugar, 1 egg white, and 1 tsp. gum arabic. Place the room temperature egg white in you mixing bowl fitted with a paddle and break up the egg for about 15 seconds, add the powdered sugar already sifted with the gum arabic and mix on low speed for about 10 minutes. You will have very stiff peaks. We tripled the recipe to have enough royal to completely cover the monster. 

  • Next we mixed up a few batches of Mexican gumpaste. The working time with this type of gumpaste is less than other types, but longer than pastillage. I prefer using Mexican paste when I need something to dry very hard and somewhat fast. The recipe we use is: 8 oz powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp gum tragacanth, and 2 Tbsp cold water. Sift together the gum trag and powdered sugar, add the water and mix with a spoon until most of the powder is absorbed. The dump onto your counter and knead until the paste comes together (about 3 - 5 minutes). It will feel a bit dry. Double wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 24 hours. Break off a piece and knead well to use.

  • We made sure we had all the right tools when making the monster!

  • Start rolling out pieces of the Mexican paste and wrapping and molding to the armature. Use whatever tools needed to make the texture you desire.

  • Now for my favorite part - painting!. We used Americolor red to paint the monster, then used grey and black dusts to bring out his texture. We also painted the spine (or flames) with red, orange, and yellow dust colors mixed with Everclear.

  • The final product.