Category Archives: How-Tos

How-To: Bow Loop Cake Topper {Edited}

So you asked for it, that’s what you’ll get…How-tos!  For the first, I’ll show you how I did the bow loops for this cake topper for the Curious George Cake.  In this post, I’ll talk about some of the tools I use and show you where to find them.  I haven’t received any compensation for this, I’m just telling you about some things I’ve found that have made my life as a cake artist easier!

Tool Caddy

Tool Caddy

I’ll start by showing you a picture of my gum paste tool storage container.  I love it because everything stays in one place, stays clean and the best of all, I can cart it around with me!  I got it from The Container Store…it was originally designed for photo storage, but it works perfectly for this!  It holds my flower cutters, shape cutters, modeling tools, rolling pin, bow formers and much more!

{Edited 04/16/2011 to add} I have recently seen the storage container at Michael’s…and with a 40 or 50%-off coupon, it’s really reasonable!

Roll and Trim

Roll and Trim

Start with a ball of gum paste about the size of a ping-pong ball.  Knead it until it is softened and smooth.  Roll it out to about a 1/16th of an inch thick.  Trim off the rounded sides and trim it to make it about 6 inches long.  I use a pastry cutter (the smooth side) and a ruler.  I like this particular ruler because it has the inch measurements from 1 through 12, but then it also zeros at the center…an excellent way to help make things even or finding the center.  It’s from Deja Views and can be found here and also in most craft store scrapbooking departments.  In another life, I was a scrap-a-holic, so I’ve recycled a lot of my scrapbooking tools into my cake arsenal!

Cut and Cover

Cut and Cover

After trimming your gum paste to size, keep your scraps covered.  I use little food storage containers for this, as they are quick and easy (and cheap).  I also have an 18″ by 18″ piece of thick vinyl that I use to cover over the top of the gum paste after it’s rolled so that it doesn’t dry out.  I found the vinyl in the fabric section of the craft store.  It’s easy to wipe clean and it rolls up for storage.  Cut your gum paste into 1/4 inch strips using an exacto knife and your ruler as a guide.  Cover your cut strips with the vinyl while you work so that they don’t dry out!

Forming the Loops

Forming the Loops

To prepare for this next strip, you’ll need 20 gauge floral wire that has been cut into 3″-3 1/2″ pieces, a clean paintbrush (food only, please…don’t recycle these!) and some gum glue (a few tablespoons of hot water mixed with a pea-sized piece of gum paste until it dissolves in the water…tear  the piece of gum paste into little bits first and it will dissolve faster).  Take a strip of gumpaste and with a clean paintbrush, paint a little dab of gum glue onto the end of the strip, from the end to about 1/4″ in.  Lay one length of the floral wire at the tip, no more than a 1/4″ in.  Fold the gumpaste over until the other end is over the glued end.  Lift up the loop and pinch the ends together gently.

Hang the Loops to Dry

Hang the Loops to Dry

Next, you will want to hang the loops to dry.  My father and I made this contraption out of PVC pipe and plumbing connectors and caps.  It serves as a bow drying rack as well as a gum paste flower drier, among other things!  It was fairly easy to make, but took a little thinking and planning!  I will try to post a tutorial on how to do it at a later date!  In this step, you could use a broom stick or a thick dowel rod for this…you’ll just need to figure out how to suspend it yourself! 🙂  Anyway, carefully hang the loops over the pipe that has been LIGHTLY dusted with corn starch or powdered sugar.

Dry on Their Sides

Dry on Their Sides

When your loops are mostly dry (overnight), carefully remove them and lay them on their sides so that the part that was touching the pipes can dry.  As you can see, I only made 24 loops…if you want a fuller bow than the George cake topper, then make more loops!  You can also see that I made them all white.  That is because I am lazy and didn’t want to color gum paste.  I also was a little unsure of what color I wanted to make the topper.  In the end, I airbrushed the loops with red, blue and yellow.  To assemble the bow, trim the wires to about 1 1/2″ sticking out of the bow.  Next, form a golf ball-sized lump of gum paste into a ball and then flatten one side (this is the side that will sit on the cake.  I airbrushed it red, to match the bow loops, and let it dry somewhat (an hour or two) on the top of the cake.  You can do this ahead of time and just let it dry on a cake board.  Dip the ends of the wire into the gum glue and stick them into the ball of gum paste.  Try to turn the loops in different directions to add whimsy.  And if you are using more than one color, try to alternate them as best as you can to keep the colors separate.  I also made little curly ques out of the gum paste by wrapping strips of gum paste around 1/4″ dowel rods and letting them dry.  Sorry folks, but I didn’t get pics of the final assembly…in a rush for delivery!  But you can tell from the finished picture how it all went together!

Close-up of George

Close-up of George

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