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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Krampus comes to Christmas in Frostington

     Well the holidays are upon us, and that means time for a Christmas Cake and Sugar Collab. Some of you might remember the Christmas Collab I took part in last year where I made Gizmo at his keyboard. The tutorial booklets and raffle tickets for that effort raised over £8,000 / $12,500 for the Make A Wish Foundation. This year the tutorial booklets and raffle (UK only) will be benefiting three charities : Australian Melanoma Research Foundation , Alzheimer's Society UK , and Icing Smiles in the US.

     For 2014 over 150 cake and sugar artists each designed their own little piece of a quintessential English village at Christmas time, and the whole thing was wonderfully pieced together. If you click on the image below it will take you to the full, large image at our website,, you can click on and zoom in to really see all the wonderful details interacting with each other.

The tutorials are for sale here , with my contribution being sold as part of Booklet two. I see a lot of people wanting to know how to make deer antlers, so my tutorial is on how I make realistic antlers with modeling chocolate:

If you know me at all, you will probably realize that my interests fall more in the weird and creepy categories than sweet and sentimental, so at first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do as my village piece, until I remembered Krampus!  
In some European countires, Krampus is the Christmas Devil who accompanies Saint Nicholas and carries away naughty children in his knapsack. Much, much cooler than that elf on a shelf. For a little bit more info you can check out

For this standing figure I needed support, so I screwed a screw into a wooden base and attached a wire armature in the basic shape I wanted. I just used whatever wire I had on hand, I don't remember the gauge or anything, it was just what looked strong enough in the picture framing section at the hardware store
 For the initial build-up I like to use whatever odds and ends of modeling chocolate I have, colors I know I won't use up before it drys out, etc... I start by applying this to the armature
 I found it easiest to roll the modeling chocolate into little sausage shapes, wrap them around the figure, and then smoosh them into and around the crevices of the wire, then smooth everything.

Building up the first layer some more

After my base layer was complete I started adding the top layer, using black, just adding little thing pieces and smoothing with my fingers as I go along

 Here he is with the final layer all on and smoothed

Now I started to texture Krampus' fur, using Color Shapers (in the left photo,find them here, and there always seems to be sets on Ebay as well) and a clay tool (in the right photo, find it here, these are dirt cheap and I use them all the time) and a toothpick

Now I moved onto the head. As a base I just cut a chunk of hard, un-knead modeling choclate, compressed and rounded it a bit in my hand, and stuck it on a bamboo skewer for easier handling
 Adding the features a bit at a time, smoothing as I go...
 Adding in more details, and gumpaste eyes ( I always use gumpaste for the eyes because it takes paint easier)

 Now for the teeth, and my "secret" weapon, Arborio rice! Arborio rice is also called after the dish it is most used in , risotto. For whatever reason it already looks like jagged little point teeth- and I have used it for many projects.

For this particular project I used a combination of regular rice and arborio (the regular rice is rounder and smaller - so it looks more realistic since real teeth are different sizes too). To apply I usually press a hole in first with a toothpick and then add in the rice either by hand or with tweezers. It is a pain in the butt, but much,much less of a pain than trying to roll little teeth by hand or pipe them with royal and break some.


 Then he needed a modeling chocolate tongue

And now the part that I was dreading and leaving until last - the hands. I suck at hands- and apparently also suck at remembering to take pictures as I made them, here is the only one I could find- starting off with a chunk of modeling chocolate, adding lumps for the meaty areas of the palm, then smoothing the fingers. Although not great, these hands turned out better than my past efforts, I did a lot of looking at my own hands while sculpting.

I was lazy and also used rice for the claws.

 Here is Krampus before his paint job. I used gel colors and dusts thinned with vodka, and coated his fur with confectioner's glaze for shine. Painting is usually my favorite part, I must have zoned out on this alsoas I didn't get any in-process painting shots.

Here he is after painting.

And then I took a million pitcures and added snow to them with Picmonkey

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dia de los Muertos Frida Kahlo Sugar Skull.

     It's that time of year again, Feliz Dia de los Muertos! The Mexican Day of the Dead tradition honors the dearly departed every November 1st with brightly colored sugar skulls and playful representations of death, celebrating the lives the departed lived, instead of just grieving their loss. I was thrilled to once again participate in the Sugar Skull Bakers cake and sugar artist collaboration, the brain-child of cake artsit Berry Rabago and graphic designer Yuki Navarro Guerrero. Check out the facebook page for more than 100 other interpretations on the theme by cake artists from around the globe! 

Here is my piece from last year

My piece this year had 2 main inspirations, the first being this  self portrait by Frida "La Venadita", which portrayed her as a deer, and I just love antlers, so I knew I had to add them.

My other inspiration was this beautiful piece by Audrey Kawasaki (check out her blog here for other gorgeous work) Those eyes just haunted me (in a lovely way :)

Because this was going to just be a display piece I opted to make a dummy cake with styrofoam, here is my styro with my reference skull (pretty nice shape and detail for a $6 skull I found at the grocery store of all places)

Adding modeling chocolate

Comparing the two, obviously my skull was still way too flat at this point, always have references!!

Then I added fondant and textured it too look like bone

For my antlers I attached wires to bamboo skewers, then covered with aluminum foil, and then masking tape (too make it easier for the modeling chocolate to stick)

Then the painting (a combination of gel colors thinned with vodka and airbrush food colors)

I spent so much time making the markings for the cranial plates I didn't want to cover them, but the more I looked at it, the more I knew she needed more "hair" and had to paint over the fissures :(

Ack! The antlers , even though being pretty lightweight with the foil , wouldn't stay upright.

I was pretty disappointed at that point, but the solution was actually pretty simple, I pulled out the antlers, and added another long skewer, when anchored at two points they couldn't swivel anymore :) 
She still looked pretty plain to me, but too be honest, I was pretty tired and in no mood to make sugar flowers, so a quick Google search turned up numerous tutorials for coffee filter flowers, and voila! Each flower only took me 5 minutes since I just airbrushed them. The blog I based my flowers on is here. I really wanted lit candles for these next shots, but I didn't want to set my living room on fire :)