Friday, 3 February 2012

How to Make a Gumpaste Wizard - Tutorial

The finishing touch to the castle cake (see tutorial How to Make a Castle Cake - Part 1 and How to make a Castle Cake - Part 2) was the wizard sitting on the top so here is how I made him:

First I rolled a ball of gumpaste into an appropriate size for his body, gently moulding it into a a flattened pear-shape.

Then, using my thumb and forefinger, I flared out the bottom to give the impression of some movement, so it would look like he was wearing a gown.

I then rolled out two small tear-dropped shaped balls of black gumpaste and stuck them into place under the gown. I used the dresden tool to put in some folds around the shoes. 

I always like to make sure that the heads of my figures are secured well onto the body while drying, so I inserted a spaghetti stick through the body (this can also help prevent sagging).

To make his head I rolled a ball of flesh coloured fondant and used a cocktail stick to make a little hole where his nose would be. I then rolled a small tear-dropped shaped piece of flesh coloured fondant and put it in place to make his nose. I used a cocktail stick to give the nose nostrils. The eyes are simply small balls of white gumpaste upon which are glued even smaller balls of black gumpaste (I used sugar glue, but you could just as easily use water). I fashioned his eyebrows from small tapering sausages of white gumpaste and used the dresden tool to give them some texture once I'd stuck them into position. Finally, I put his head in place and was then able to cut off the excess spaghetti, leaving just enough to support his hat.  

Of course, being a very wise old wizard, he had to have a substantial beard. I made this from a long tapering sausage of white gumpaste, which I then added texture to using the dresden tool.

The beard was too long when I first held it against him, so I chopped the end until I got to a length that I was happy with and then attached it to his face just under his nose.

I then attached a moustache above it (again using the dresden tool to texture it and coax it into position) and gave him the suggestion of a mouth through all that facial hair!

I then got carried away with all this hair and started putting it on his head, completely forgetting that I had intended to put a cloak on him, so next time I would do that step first to make things easier! So, using similar principles to the beard, I filled his head with hair.

I then rolled a thing piece of darker gumpaste and cut a cloak out of it. I did this freehand, but you may want to make yourself a template to ensure it's even.

Luckily, when I came to attach the cloak, the hair was still soft enough that I could manipulate it out of the way so my earlier eagerness didn't result in disaster (phew).

I then gave him arms. To make these I rolled two tear dropped pieces of gumpaste and then fluted the ends using my thumb and forefinger to give the appearance of the long sleeves. Using the small ball tool, I made holes in the end for his hands. As his arms were quite heavy, once they were glued in place, I supported them with sponges until they were dry enough to support themselves. 

For his hat, I rolled a thin piece of gumpaste and cut out a disk for the rim. I then rolled a tear-drop shaped piece of gumpaste, which I thinned to almost a point at the end, to make the body of his hat. It simply slotted into place on top of the disk and was supported by, and completely covered, the last part of the spaghetti that had been protruding out of his head.

Finally, he needed some hands. If you check out my earlier post (Gumpaste Hands) there is a great link to a Lorraine McKay tutorial on making hands which I have found invaluable and I am sure you will find interesting at the very least.
To make hands, you start with two tear-dropped shaped pieces of gumpaste (everything seems to be tear-drop shaped today, doesn't it?) and you flatten them out at one end so that they have an almost paddle shape.

Then, using a knife or a scalpel (it was a scalpel in this case as these hands were tiny!) cut the paste to give rudimentary fingers and thumbs.

Next is the tricky bit, and where Lorraine's tutorial is really good at demonstrating the technique. To make the fingers look more realistic, you have to gently roll each individual finger, slightly pulling to elongate and tapping the end to shape. In the picture below you can see the difference between the shaped and the unshaped fingers. 

Once you get the hang of it and can do this step relatively quickly, the gumpaste should still be flexible enough for you to position the fingers into realistic poses. It's not so clear below because of the sponge in the way but I made a little magic wand for the wizard to hold and was able to manipulate the fingers so that he was gripping it.

I allowed the figure to dry overnight before positioning him on top of the cake. By that time his arms and hands were dry enough to be able to support themselves without the help of the sponges.

I hope you have found this helpful. I would love to see some of your own creations!