Here is the final part of my How to Make a Flamingo Cake Topper tutorial. In my previous article, How to Make a Gumpaste/Fondant Flamingo Cake Topper - Part 1, I explained how to make the legs, base and beak. And in Part 2 I dealt with forming the head, neck and body. Now it is time to learn the finishing steps.
Use These Instructions For All Of the Feather Markings and Coloring
Creating the Indented Feathers’ Markings
After I cut out each one of the various tail and wing feather pieces I use the following indentations to give them a realistic look. I created a central midrib indentation (officially known as the rachis or shaft) with the narrow end of my Dresden tool. I then continued to use it to make all of the narrow diagonal vane/blade marks (picture #27). This step is optional and making those narrow diagonal vane marks on each of the small body feathers was a tad bit challenging, but I totally think worth the effort!
Coloring the Body, Tail and Wing Feathers
I dusted all of the feathers with a petal dust mixture of Diamond Colours Hollyhock, Sugarflair Peach & Squires Kitchen Edelweiss (white). As an optional step for extra coloring and more definition of the central markings and edges of the tail and wing feathers I brushed them with some Sugarflair Blush Pink to help set them off.
Finishing the Flamingo
Before adding the feathers you may want to cover the legs with some plastic wrap to protect them from stray petal dust when coloring the body’s feather. Also, it may be necessary to add some pieces of foam around the legs to stabilize it.
Attaching the Feathers
I covered the Styrofoam ball and tail with Crisco in order to attach the feathers that would be directly touching the foam. For the feathers that are attached to other feathers I use edible glue.
This is not the first time I’ve made feathers (see Gumpaste Hen & Chick Cake). Just as I did with the hen cake I used an assortment of different petal cutters. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that I have all these different size cutters because there is no way I would want to even try to attempt to make these tiny feathers ‘free-hand’. I have shown on my line drawing which cutters I used and where I used them (picture #28).
The Tail and Body Feathers
I started by cutting out the tail feathers using the narrow daisy petal cutter (and marked it as I explained above). I placed the feathers onto the backside of the body’s tail (picture #29) adding additional layers until I had all I needed. As I got closer to the body (i.e. the back edge of Styrofoam ball) I started cutting off the top tip of the feathers so they would fit neatly (picture #30). After I had all the feathers placed to my liking I went back and gently curled up some of the tips to give them a little movement (picture #31). I then allowed them to dry.
It was then time to cover the entire body with the small ruscus leaves (picture #32). After making and attaching 1/3 of these tiny-little feathers I started imagining how great it would be to have a second pair of hands to help me out with this procedure. So, when my terrific husband came into the kitchen I decided to float this awesome idea by him. My fantasy was quickly but politely rejected. Don’t get me wrong, he is totally supports me, but this is not his thing i.e. playing with gumpaste and little cutters. He explained that performing such a task was far too intricate a procedure for his clumsy hands to tackle. So, I continued my mission of feathering solo. When I was done feathering, I waited for them to dry before I moved on to the next steps which were to color the flamingo’s body and tail feathers with the petal dust mixture (see above instructions) and then steam it (picture #33).
The Wings (optional)
At this point I decided to wing it…literally! If you don’t want or have time to create wings you could stop at this point because it would still be a nice looking flamingo. But I wanted to take it to the next level, so I gave mine a pair of wings.
I cut out two wings from gumpaste using my tissue pattern (picture #34). I serrated the wings’ edges with the Dresden tool to give them a feathery look (picture #35) and allowed them to air dry slightly before trying to shape them. This made them easier to work since they were still somewhat pliable then. I placed the wings on top of the body and adjusted them to where I wanted them to be once they dried (picture #36). After they were completely dry I began at the bottom edge of each wing and started to glue rows of wing feathers made with the narrow daisy petal cutters (picture #37). And of course, it was drying time again.
I dusted the flamingo’s wing feathers with the petal dust and steamed them (picture #38). When they were dry I glued them onto its back (picture #39).
The Feet and Base
I used gumpaste to cut out two flamingo feet and create some webbing. I glued one foot onto the gumpaste base then inserted the standing leg with glue on the end into the foot (picture #40). At that point I attached the second foot onto the bent leg and let everything dry. Once dry I added a little pink petal dust mixture to the knees, ankles and the feet’s webbing (I didn’t steam them since there was such a small amount of dusting involved).
Adding It to the Cake
I took a bubble straw and inserted it into the cake. I put a piece of parchment paper on the cake beforehand to protect its gumpaste/fondant base from the icing since it was going to be a keepsake. I inserted the flamingo’s bamboo dowel rod into the straw and voila, Freida was ready to pose on the top of a beautiful cake!!
If you like you can also try a few additional finishing touches like I did such as adding sand created by Demerara Sugar Crystals and some cute little fondant shells (to see how I made them see my Quick Tip Thursday on Facebook). If you like what you see there I’d be thrilled if you were to 'like' me on my Facebook Fan Page.
My BIG Oops Moment
As I mentioned in part one I didn’t reinforce my standing leg properly, so it was tilting ever so slightly, sort of like the leaning tower of Pisa. As you might imagine, I felt real sick because I didn’t have time to start this project for my daughter, Emily’s, birthday all over again. So, this is what I had to do to rescue it using two additional pieces of #18g wire. I had to pry it off its gumpaste base and then very carefully rewrap those two pieces of wire onto the ‘backside’ of its standing leg (picture #41). The biggest part of this challenge was not to break any of its countless feathers as I was gingerly trying to secure the floral tape tightly onto its leg. I did it (Happy, happy!). But trust me, it was no easy feat and I think I turned gray in the process (just kidding, I know I’m already gray). To be honest, this had to be one of the scariest gumpasting surgery’s I’ve ever had to perform. But I’ve learned my lesson here which is to always err on the side of using more support.
Frieda the Flamingo and I hope you enjoyed our three part special gumpasting adventure. Needless to say, if you make your own Frieda I would love to see her!!!