Gumpaste Figurine Woes

Decorating By tguegirl Updated 5 Aug 2008 , 8:54pm by aine2

tguegirl Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 12:54pm
post #1 of 30

Hi all,
I made a gumpaste figurine yesterday using aine2's tutorial. It turned out okay, but I kept on having so many problems along the way! In her tutorial, she just puts pieces together (like the torso on the legs) and it miraculously stands up. My body parts were so soft that they immediately started to sag and bag when I tried to add them. I even dried the torso overnight before placing it on the legs, but it still sank a little bit. Also, I had real problems drying the head because my round head would flatten on whatever I was drying it on and become a half hemisphere within 30 minutes. Obviously, my paste was way too soft, but it also started cracking when drying! I used CK brand gumpaste mix and let it sit overnight before using. I didn't add CMC powder because couldn't find it- do you think this would help? In addition, I dried the arms on the figurine overnight and they still kept on falling off while on the cake.

I have used Wilton in the past and though it was much firmer, I had even worse cracking problems with Wilton- I couldn't roll a smooth ball of gumpaste for my life with Wilton. I am very jealous of aine2's ability to make smooth looking figurines that seem to stay put. Anyone have any ideas as to what the secret is?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! The pic of the finished cake is below.

29 replies
angel951747 Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 1:19pm
post #2 of 30

I'm new at figurines and the best one I made kept falling apart.I know that they say you can add Tylose to it to firm gumpaste (I found some at a cake decorating store...20 miles away, but you can also order it). I also know that some use alcohol (did I spell that right? It looks wrong) to help out. Leaving in front of a fan. But first start in your gumpaste recipe or brand. HTH Like I said, i'm new too but I pick up things that people say.

angel951747 Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 1:21pm
post #3 of 30

P.S. You did a great job. I feel the same way about her talent and ability, but everything takes work and prctice. I love her.

wendym Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 1:33pm
post #4 of 30

Hi, First of all dont let the gumpaste sit overnight before using. Work the paste well before use but use right away. I use a head mould for my heads but anyway I keep a few heads ready made with out hair or eyes so that they are set and hard. Try putting dry spaghetti into your head and then stick the other end into some fondant and leave it to dry for a while. Do you use a edable glue to stick your limbs on. That works. A small mount of tylose powder mixed with water and left in the fridge overnight makes great glue. The more you work the paste the smoother it will get. I dont know where you live in the USA I live in the UK, but it is most likely the fact that its too hot or humid that is making your paste to soft. Sorry to ramble on but I hope this helps. Good Luck Wendy

nannie Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 2:05pm
post #5 of 30

first of all, your cake is so cute!

are you using gum paste or fondant. I have her tutorials and I think she uses fondant. I've found it helpful when doing heads, arms or things that have to hold a pose, to mix them half and half.

I add a lot of crisco to minimize the cracking.

also, where do you live. I suspect it's not too humid in scotland and I know that is a struggle where I live. let them dry in the oven with the light on, not the oven on, and put a note on the oven to prevent unfortunate accidents.

tguegirl Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 4:46pm
post #6 of 30

I am in Philadelphia, and yes, I suppose it was hot yesterday (probably humid too!). I didn't even think that the heat might contribute to everything not drying. Goodness, we really do have to worry about everything! I didn't use tylose mixed with water- I used small bits of gumpaste dissolved in water for the glue. Will definitely try the tylose!

nannie Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 5:06pm
post #7 of 30

before I found tylose I tried mixing gum paste with water, just didn't work. worth searching for the tylose.........

lorrieg Posted 2 Aug 2008 , 11:55pm
post #8 of 30

50/50 gumpaste/fondant works quite well. You don't get the cracking, you have a bit more time to work with it and spagetti is great for holding parts together. One trick is to not use too much "glue". The parts will fall apart more easily. I use boiled cooled water with a bit of tylose mixed in (I make it a bit ahead of time) as my glue.

What a great cake! I can't use just fondant here. it's way too humid.

Trixyinaz Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 12:34am
post #9 of 30

Aine2 uses fondant and mixes in her equivalent to our tylose. Before using her recipe for sugarpaste, I had issues with some things I tried. Then when I really had to make one for an order, I decided to do it her way. She said any fondant will work so I decided on making my own MMF (Marshmallow Fondant). I found Tylose at a local bakery supply store (not really local, I had to drive about 30 miles) and mixed it according to her directions. I think it is 1 tsp of tylose to 1 pound of fondant. Sprinkle your work area with the tylose, then knead it in to your already made fondant. I also used a lot of crisco on my hands and that elimated the cracking that I encountered the first time I tried gumpaste stuff.

You can look in my photos and look at Woody, Buzz and the Man Caught in Webs...they were all made using her directions for making the sugarpaste (fondant and tylose). I had no issue with them sitting up and sagging/drooping and I had more time to work with the sugarpaste before it started drying out, which is a bonus for me since I'm not fast at all and still learning.

BTW, I love your cake and think your figures and accents look great! And I agree, Aine2 is amazing and a wonderful instructor. Like someone else said, practice, practice, practice. Get your basics down, keep practicing and develop your own style.

Oh, I also tried dissolving gumpaste in water as my glue and just water as someone else suggested in a tuturial I found online, but neither worked as GREAT as Aine2's glue. I think it is 2 tbs of warm water and 1/4 tsp of Tylose. Let it sit overnight in the fridge and it will be crystal clear. You don't need much and it held all my pieces together fantastically.

tguegirl Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 2:33am
post #10 of 30

Thanks for the fantastic tips, everyone! And Trixyinaz, your Woody and Buzz are phenomenal. I can't believe you had the patience to spend five hours on that figurine, but it was well worth the effort.

I will definitely scout out tylose. Just using mmf with tylose or using half mmf , half gumpaste will be cheaper as well than using solid gumpaste. Now all I need is an excuse to make another figurine!

tguegirl Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 2:49am
post #11 of 30

And thanks for the heads up about "sugarpaste" being fondant. I could have sworn that sugarpaste was another name for gumpaste, no?

marknelliesmum Posted 3 Aug 2008 , 1:11pm
post #12 of 30

nannie said:


I suspect it's not too humid in scotland

You can say that again - we think it's a heat wave when the temp reaches 16 C icon_lol.gificon_redface.gif

I think part of the problem may be the difference in brands of fondant. The stuff we have over here if you buy in e.g our equivalent of walmart is soft enough to go through a clay gun no prob but way too soft for covering a cake. The fondant you get in a proper cake supplies shop is totally different, firm and dense but pliable when kneaded. I would be able to use normal fondant - nothing added- to make e.g bride and groom toppers, teddy bears etc. that you see on here then just leave them time to dry out, so if it's able to do that prior to aine2 mixing in something else ( do you know what she adds?) then i'd say it must be a pretty firm fondant she is working with.

Sorry can't be of any help.

iownajane Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 12:34am
post #13 of 30

I'd like to ask a couple of questions also...I'm in the laurentians,north of Montreal...and it's been hot ,and mostly HUMID,all summer...I did my daughter's wedding cakes at the end of june,and that was so-so,but since then I have had major problems with fondant,etc(except on cookies)

I tried to make a beer bottle with took about 3 weeks to finally harden...I went away for 10 days...came home and it was mush....the replacement for that was fondant roses and leaves,that dried well...really liked them...but after they were on the fondant covered cake(which stayed sticky)they softened,and flattened...what a surprise when I went to serve it....

Yesterday I tried gumpaste and fondant 2 to first shoes...and they are softer now than they were 24hours they're a waste..but just apractice so it could be worse

Should I bother wasting time trying straight gumpaste(and have to colour it),or just wait till the fall...

Is it the brand..Satin was fine before....

Do you think I will still be able to make cut-outs and put them on the cake?

lorrieg Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 1:56am
post #14 of 30

iownajane it has been so humid here this summer that I think that's part of our problem. You might try adding some tylose to the SI gumpaste and trying it like that. I'm not doing SI if I can help it. Try buying or making Nick Lodge's gumpaste, I'm doing really well with it in this weather. I'm going to mix it 1/2 with fondant this week. I did a test and it dried in a couple of days.

iownajane Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 2:14am
post #15 of 30
Originally Posted by lorrieg

iownajane it has been so humid here this summer that I think that's part of our problem. You might try adding some tylose to the SI gumpaste and trying it like that. I'm not doing SI if I can help it. Try buying or making Nick Lodge's gumpaste, I'm doing really well with it in this weather. I'm going to mix it 1/2 with fondant this week. I did a test and it dried in a couple of days.

Thanks for the one point I wondered if it was just me(new at this)
Do you think I can use half and half fondant and gumpaste ...they're both SI...that's what I have...and then how much tylose would you suggest I try...or should I just add tylose to the fondant...I tried that a couple of times...worked one time,and then I added too much the next,and got un useable rocks... icon_redface.gif I want to use the fondant because of the colours...
I guess even to cover a cake in this weather I'll have to move fast...and maybe put it in the fridge,which I don't usually do....(we don't have AC)
Thanks again!

lorrieg Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 2:22am
post #16 of 30

I'm finding the SI gumpaste way too soft for my liking. You might take a ball of it mixed 50/50 with the fondant and add a couple of ml of tylose and make something and leave it out overnight. Remember gumpaste dries lighter and fades with time. But it' s easy to colour. icon_biggrin.gif

It's not you. It's the weather. icon_cry.gif

iownajane Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 2:24am
post #17 of 30

Thanks again...I'll try and see what I get...otherwise it'll be cutouts!

CuteCakeName Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 2:41am
post #18 of 30

I haven't done a lot of figures, but I discovered a trick to keep the pieces from getting that flat spot on the back of their heads/bodies/etc. Just plop them in a bowl full of powdered sugar. It supports them without putting pressure on any one spot.

judcreations Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 9:05am
post #19 of 30

Was working on a Bridal topper, but it just kept breaking due to the humidity, & had to cancel the order as they wanted it in 5 days.

Attached is the result of the bits & broken pieces put together.

lorrieg Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 10:12am
post #20 of 30

too much glue is another problem. The parts never really dry at the joins and they slip around.

Those figures looked so nice. What a shame judcreations. icon_sad.gif

BakingJeannie Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 12:30pm
post #21 of 30

I don't know if this will help, but I am in the process of making 30 figurines (I may not want to make any more for another year!) for cake toppers and I am using 50/50, Satin Ice gumpaste/Wilton fondant mixed with Tylose. It is working perfect! I was using all gumpaste for the heads and they kept sticking in the mold. Then I read in a post on CC that when Tylose is mixed with fondant it does not stick in the mold. I went to the 50/50 recipe with the tylose and I saved so much time.

My hobby room is warmer in our house, even though we have central air. The pieces dries the next day with the ceiling fan going on low. I found that Wilton fondant with tylose works a lot better when making figures because it's not soft like the other fondants. With the above combination I use shortening to make the balls smooth by rolling quickly between my palms and dust with cornstarch for drying. This is my first attempt at usning a mold for figures. I made the Nurse Betty Boop in the process. Her body fell apart because I did not have time to let it dry before putting her together.

Good luck. BTW, you cake came out pretty good. I would have never know you had problems with the figure. thumbs_up.gif

PatrysV Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 12:50pm
post #22 of 30

There are 2 tips that helped me tremendously:
1. Always stick fresh fondant to dry fondant, cause dry won't stick to dry. So if I do need to stick dry fondant to dry fondant, I put a liitle bit of fresh (same-coloured) fondant in between the 2 parts, or stick them with RI!
2. Spaghetti!!! I put it everywhere! My figures(bodies) also used to sag, and then I started sticking 2 pieces of spaghetti in them and leave them to dry against something, and whallah!! My Ballerina was as straight as an arrow!

lorrieg Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 1:57pm
post #23 of 30

I'll have to try the wilton fondant with the gumpaste. It makes sense. The Satin Ice fondant is so much softer.

Cute ballerina!

michellesArt Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 2:44pm
post #24 of 30

i too had a lot of probs with sagging and found that 50/50 fondant/gumpaste works great! i haven't made the glue yet but i used water (just a small amount)i'm definately going to try the spagetti trick-thanks and i hope you practice some more-i love making figures and want to try some more!

tguegirl Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:51pm
post #25 of 30

Thanks for the great tips, everyone! And that ballerina looks fantastic- can I ask how you did the face? Was it a mold?

PatrysV Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 6:52am
post #26 of 30

Thank you. Yes I used a mold for the face, but put a seperate nose on, as my mold's nose is a bit flat to my liking. I also put seperat ears on, as they don't show on the molded face.

aine2 Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 7:14am
post #27 of 30

I've just caught up with this thread so I'll try and clarify some things for you.

I use ready made fondant which is Regalice by Renshaw. I know you cannot find that brand in the US but a good equivalent is Satin Ice. I have used Pettinice sent to me from New Zealand and found it just the same as my own brand.

If you don't add Tylose Powder to the fondant it will not stand up to the test of to speak. I couldn't model simply with fondant as it is very sticky and the heat from your hands would be a nightmare to try and shape the finer details. Also, Tylose Powder makes the fondant much more pliable and easy to use.

Tylose Powder is the same as Tylopur and CMC (Carboxymethyl Cellulose) All are different names for the same thing. Use 1 teaspoon to 500 g of fondant, sprinkle the powder onto your work surface (I sprinkle half a teaspoon and mix 250 g at a time as it is easier) and knead your fondant into it until all of the powder is gone. Roll into a long sausage and cut into 3 or 4 parts. Wrap individually in clingfilm and store in a self sealing plastic bag. Use the pieces as and when you require them, kneading them back into a pliable state before attempting to colour and model.

Taking the time to knead and soften the paste is just as important as working on a model. If the paste isn't ready to be molded then it will dry and crack more easily.

I never make different parts in advance, I work and stick as I go, supporting any parts that need it with a little piece of sponge (cut from a bath or car sponge). This can be seen in some of my tutorials. If I am making a standing figure, I make the torso and legs and put them together, lay them flat on top of a sponge overnight and then do the rest the next day.

Humidity could be a big problem. You're right...we don't get so much humidity in Scotland but we do get it from time to time just the same. It has been extremely humid lately but although it makes things a bit more difficult, it isn't impossible and takes a little more patience. In saying that...I threw a complete bear in the bin last weekend and walked away until the day after to start again when I had calmed my jets a bit! icon_lol.gif We all have frustrating times with paste but practice and more practice will get the results you want.

It seems a silly thing to say when modelling with paste, but the less time you handle the paste, the better it will be. Most of us tend to fuss over little finger isn't sitting right, the arm isn't bent enough, the leg won't stay in position. Well....leave the finger as it is, the arm will be fine if left alone and change your mind on the position of the leg! Before adding heads to bodies, allow the body to dry completely. Adding more weight to an already soft body will make it lean. Give yourself time to build your models. Spaghetti is a good support if you need it. I use it down the centre of my models to use as a support for the head too. I don't use it anywhere else unless I want an arm to be reaching up high. It's up to you what works best for you.

I'll be in Texas soon and hopefully will be able to help with the working of the paste in humid conditions. Keep some icing sugar on hand to prevent the sticking on your hands but as with everything else...don't over use. A little glue so that it is just tacky to the touch....a litte icing sugar so that your work surface isn't sticky but isn't looking like a snow drift either.

I hope that helps a little.

Your models look absolutely fabulous by the way. All these problems...I would never have known. Terrific! thumbs_up.gif

marknelliesmum Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 9:07am
post #28 of 30

aine2 said


Tylose Powder is the same as Tylopur and CMC (Carboxymethyl Cellulose) All are different names for the same thing.

Hi girls
Can I ask a really stupid question? What is gum trag for and is this either another name for the above or a product that will do a similar job or something different completely?

Like I said before I have only ever modelled with straight fondant and managed fine ( well with the help of several swear words icon_redface.gificon_lol.gificon_surprised.gif ) but obviously from what you guys are saying I should be adding something for strength. I just don't know what it is I should be looking for. Aine2 do we have Tylose over here or should I be looking for one of the alternative names? Sorry for being a dumba$$ but I get totally in a pickle over product names when they are called something different over here.


tguegirl Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 1:25pm
post #29 of 30

Thank you so much, aine2! I'm a little in awe- I can't believe I started this thread and got such a fantastic response, including from you!

One last question (it seems as if I really am confounded judging by the number of questions I ask!)- are the figures still edible if I add tylose? I saw somewhere that someone didn't add tylose because they wanted people to eat the figurine. I'm assuming that it's still edible, but just hard and therefore unappetizing?

Thanks again, everyone!

aine2 Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 8:54pm
post #30 of 30

Here's a supplier here icon_lol.gif

Gum tragacanth is used in the same way but it needs to be incorporated into the fondant and left for at least 12 hours to take effect. It is a bit more expensive too and we "canny Scots" like to save a bob or two! thumbs_up.gif I personally find gum trag a bit more harsh and dries much too quickly for my liking as I like to maintain a nice smooth finish on my models. Tylose allows me to make my modelling paste and use it immediately.

I hope that helps you. icon_wink.gif

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