Have you ever dreamed of creating a gumpaste/fondant flamingo cake topper? Well I have and I actually made my own dream come true. So if you are interested in making one too, I will be showing you how I made mine in this 3-part tutorial. To see more pictures of the finished flamingo visit: Gumpaste/Fondant Flamingo and Hibiscus Cake.
How Much Time Is Involved In Creating This Pretty Pink Bird?
Maybe some of you are asking yourself how long did it take to create this feathery fowl. I honestly cannot answer the question accurately because even though I worked on it over the span of a couple of months I didn’t work on making “Frieda” (my nickname for my flamingo) every day! Plus I had to deal with some learning curves (i.e. a few inevitable mistakes) as well as taking time to take notes and photos for this tutorial. So, my best advice if you have a deadline is to start at least a month ahead of time. I personally never like the feeling of being rushed, so I prefer to go the safe route and allow more time because it’s always better to finish ahead of schedule. The good news is I hope what I’m about to share with you will make it much easier and will save you some time to boot!
Below are the products and items I used (or at least all the ones I can remember) to create my flamingo. Since I will only be posting this list here once in part 1 of the 3 parts I decided to explain in parenthesis what their eventual use would be for.
My Materials and Items Used
Tissue Paper (to create pattern pieces)
PDF For My Pattern Pieces (Here is the LINK)(*Please note*: they are not an exact fit, so you will need to adjust them like I did.)
Wilton Bamboo Dowel Rod (1/4” diameter)(for the straight leg)
2 Pieces of White Chenille (for the bent leg)(I used pink since I have a lot of it)
2 Pieces of #18 Gauge Wire (for the bent leg)
White Floral Tape (for both legs)
Aleene’s Tacky Glue (to hold together legs, toothpicks & skewer into the pieces of Styrofoam)
Round Pointed Toothpicks (for securing head, beak & tail and for applying glue)
Thick BBQ Skewer (for securing neck to body)
1” Styrofoam Ball (for the head)
3” Styrofoam Ball (for the body)
Triangle Piece of Styrofoam (for the tail portion)
Spare Cake Dummy (to hold it in place while being made)
Additional Pieces of Foam (to hold in place while being made) Optional
Makeup Sponges (for holding wings in place while drying) Optional
Wilton Gumpaste (for base, beak, neck, base for wings & feet)
Squires Kitchen Sugar Modelling Paste (for lower portion of body and tail, outer portion of head, outer portion of neck & all the feathers)
FYI: This is the first time I’ve used the new Squires Kitchen Sugar Modelling Paste and it was a total joy to work with because it dries slower than gumpaste and once it dries it is very strong. I would highly recommend this for any modeling project that you need extra time to work with and you will definitely need it for this flamingo.
Pink Petal Dusts Mixture (for head, neck, body & beak) a mixture of Diamond Colours Hollyhock, Sugarflair Peach & Squires Kitchen Edelweiss (white))
Sugarflair Blush Pink (to accent the tail & wing feathers) Optional
*Upright* Portable Steamer (since you will probably not want to have to tilt the bird over some boiling water to set the petal dust)
Rainbow Dust Edible Marker Jet Black (for the beak tip)
2-4mm Black Dragees (aka edible sugar beads for eyes)
Crisco (to hold the modeling paste onto the Styrofoam head & the gumpaste feathers onto the Styrofoam body)
Edible Glue (to hold together gumpaste, modeling paste in place)
Ball Tool (to create eye sockets)
Dresden Tool (for the beak markings, feather indentation & serration marks)
Kemper Feather Wire Texture Tool (make feather marks) Optional
Plastic Wrap (to protect beak and legs) Optional
Cookie/Icing Cutters (for feathers) the Tinkertech Two ruscus leaf: #325, #5 & #8 and narrow daisy petal #612, #613 & #614
Cutting Roller Tool (for cutting out pattern pieces and for removing the tips of some of the feathers)
6” Rolling Pin
Pasta Machine (for rolling out the feather’s SK Modelling Paste) Optional
In this first part of the tutorial I will show you how to make the legs, base and beak.
My first step was to begin by deciding how tall I wanted the bird to be. I opted for one about 10” tall. However, for some mysterious reason it grew another ¾” when it was completed even when taking into account the base.
I then looked for some suitable flamingo pictures on the Internet to give me a starting reference point. I usually like to find a line drawing(s) first (picture #1) for this type of project. Once I found what I was searching for I looked at some photos of real flamingos for additional guidance. At this point I drew my own line drawings (picture #2) as well as added some thoughts on how I think I should proceed with the project. As with most of my projects things usually change (okay, they always do) as I start creating the object(s), so the notes I had written weren’t set in stone.
If this is your first attempt at a three dimensional project I highly recommend you read the hints in my article: Transforming a Sketch Into a 3-D Gumpaste/Fondant Object. I’m pleased to report that after reviewing them again they actually helped me with Frieda.
The Flamingo Legs
I started with the legs first as they would be supporting the body, neck and head.
*Important Note*: I wish I had realized when I started out that I would need a *stronger standing leg* in order to better support the body, neck and head. Unfortunately, I was going for a more realistic look and made my original one too thin. If I were to ever to repeat the process I would definitely use a bamboo dowel rod as I’m suggesting you do instead of the two pieces of #18g wire I used. Lesson learned here: realism would’ve been really fabulous, but in the end no one wants to see a slightly off-kilter flamingo.
I used my line drawing as my cutting guide (picture #3). For the straight leg I used a 1/4” diameter bamboo dowel rod. The rod needs to be cut about 6” longer than the drawing to accommodate one end being inserted into the cake and the other into the body. For the bent leg take two pieces of chenille and two pieces of #18g wire and bend them to mirror your drawing. Completely cover both legs by wrapping them with white floral tape until the right thickness is achieved (picture #4).This step is optional: I decided to add little knobs to depict the joints at the knees & ankles. For this I made a small spiral of chenille which I covered again with additional floral tape (picture #5). After that I applied some glue with a toothpick to the legs to insure they would stay together (picture #6).
The Flamingo Base
Since this bird only has one slender leg perched on a small foot to hold up its body, neck and head, I knew it would need some additional type of support. My solution was to construct a 3” x 5” x ¾” gumpaste base (picture #7).
The Flamingo Beak
To make the gumpaste beak I used my paper diagram as a size guide (picture #8). After three attempts I formed one that I liked. I inserted a toothpick with some edible glue into the beak so that I could eventually insert it into the Styrofoam ball for the head. I used the narrow end of the Dresden tool to make the indentation showing the beak’s mouth and nostrils. Once it was dry I dusted the lower portion of the beak with a pink petal dust mixture (see the above list for the colors I used). I then colored the very tip of the beak using a black edible marker (picture #9).