Gumpaste 101

Decorating By AnnieCahill Updated 25 Jul 2010 , 3:06pm by KATE39

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 10:27am
post #1 of 37

I have never worked with gumpaste before, and I'd like to give it a try. I have a few questions:

1. Should I make my own or should I use the pre-packaged Wilton stuff? What do you guys prefer? Anyone want to share their favorite recipes?

2. What is the best way to color figures after they have been made? Do you use paste coloring or powder?

3. Really dumb question-maybe I'm missing something. When you order molds for figures, do they give you both halves (like for a true 3D figure)? For example, I would like to try the following mold:

I can't tell if you just get one half so it's still flat on one side, or if they give you the set.

4. Can you still "mold" gumpaste once it comes out of the molds? Can I position the heads and tails so the birds look different? I can't really do anything with the wings which is a bummer, but I think I can make them look different enough by moving their tails and heads around.

Thanks for offering any ideas or advice!


36 replies
Caths_Cakes Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 10:42am
post #2 of 37

Hey Anniecahill, Sorry cant answer your first question

But for q2, You can colour your gumpaste with paste colours the same way you would fondant before you use it, You can also colour them after they are dried with dusts and colours watered down with some clear alcohol to make a paint

q3, Some figurines do come as a true 3d set, but looking at the one you posted, I dont think it does, it says it only comes as two molds, to create the two birds shown, which to me sounds like they are going to be flat on the back, not 3d.

q4, you can , but you may have some difficulty, depending on how long you leave it in the mold. if the gumpaste 'sets' you may find it hard to work with, and risk cracking, but its definately worth a try to see how it goes

Have fun icon_biggrin.gif x

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 12:29pm
post #3 of 37

Thanks for those suggestions. I think I might try to contact that company so I can know for sure about the mold. I think it's kind of pointless to have a one-sided mold for figures.

Does anyone have any recipes they recommend? Any other ideas?

Thanks again Caths_Cakes!

Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 2:32pm
post #4 of 37

Ok, I can definitely answer your first question...the Wilton gumpaste is the best. I tried CK and it was horrible, but the Wilton is true to the recipe on the back and I find the consistency easy to work with. I've made quite a few animals for cakes, so you can check my pics if you are looking to make something that maybe I can help you with. Regarding the mold, I think you would be better off trying to do it by hand. It's really not that hard. Just made the bird shape, make the wings seperate and attach with water and a can even make the head/beak seperately, it will look cute and be better than any mold.

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 3:02pm
post #5 of 37

Thanks for your help. I was thinking about doing it freehand but I'm not that confident in my sculpting skills. I wanted them to look realistic so that's why I was going to go with the mold. But I think doing them freehand will save me some money and I could definitely use the practice.

Will the Wilton gumpaste hold up well? I was hoping on doing these for a cake that isn't due until several months from now. I was doing some online research and I saw websites where a lot of people like Nicholas Lodge's gumpaste recipe. Is there any difference between buying it pre-made vs. making it yourself (besides cost)?

Oh, here's that website of the cake I'm trying to copy (not exactly). It says the birds are made out of gumpaste but I can't see them up close.¤tslide=1¤tChapter=1#ms-global-breadcrumbs

Thanks again for your help!

Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 3:10pm
post #6 of 37

I still have gumpaste figures from February that still look the same, so they will hold up indefinitely. I make my own fondant but I find the Wilton gumpaste easy to work with and not that expensive...and you have plenty of time, so I would try out freehand! icon_smile.gif

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 3:21pm
post #7 of 37


Another quick would you do the feet for the birds? If you click on that link to the cake the birds have feet, but I can't tell what material they are. I think the need to "grip" the branches too. Any ideas?

Thanks again!


Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 3:31pm
post #8 of 37

I would probably use wire for the feet if they need to grip. You could shape it out of wire and then cover it...if you found a orangish wire you might not even have to cover it. I've never used wire like that, but on my jungle cake, I made the tree out of wire and then covered it with gumpaste....and each leaf was off of wire. If I think of something else, I'll let you know....

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 3:34pm
post #9 of 37

Thank you so much! I owe you one!


jerseygirlNga Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 3:45pm
post #10 of 37

The following recipe will make approximately 2 pounds of gum paste.

4 - Large Egg Whites *can use egg substitute
1 - 2 lbs 10x powdered sugar (reserve 1 Cup)
12 - Level teaspoons Tylose
4 - Teaspoons shortening (Crisco)

Place the egg whites in a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl fitted with the flat paddle, high for 10 sec to break up egg

On low speed, add sugar (all but reserved portion)

Once all sugar is incorporated, turn speed to 3 or 4 for about 2 minutes
while measuring tylose powder.

**Make sure the mixture is at the soft peak stage. It should look shiny, like meringue and the peaks fall over. (If coloring the entire batch, add the paste color at this stage, making it a shade darker than the desired color.)

Turn the mixer to the slow setting and sprinkle the Tylose in over a five second time period. Next, turn the speed up to the high setting for a few seconds. Your mixture will thicken.

Scrape the mixture out of the bowl onto a work surface that has been sprinkled with some of the reserved 1 cup of powdered sugar.

Place the shortening on your hands and knead the paste, adding enough of the reserved powdered sugar to form a soft, but not sticky, dough.

You can check by pinching with your fingers and they should come away clean.

Place the finished in a zip-top bag, then place the bagged paste in a second bag and seal well. Place in fridge for 24 hours before using.

The above is Nicholas Lodge's Gumpaste recipe. This is the same used in all his flower/fondant classes. I've only made once...and have been using Satin Ice for my gumpaste figures.

To answer you questions about 3D birds. Those molds are one sided and its what you see on lots of cakes. Not everyone is willing to take the time or have the skill level to sculpt. As far as birds feet...if they are not gumpaste then they can be a floral wire.

Good luck with your work...and enjoy.

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 5:09pm
post #11 of 37

Thanks jerseygirl!

I think the recipe you listed was one of the ones I had seen which was highly recommended. I can try both your recipe and the Wilton because I have plenty of time to practice.

Just another thing I thought of-do you think the branches on that cake are real or fake? I haven't checked out Michael's lately to see what they have, but I can't imagine them being real branches. I would imagine you have to put little protector thingies down inside the cake to keep any chemicals or non food-safe "stuff" from having contact with the cake.

Thank you ladies so much for your help. If there's anything I can ever do for you please let me know!


AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 5:24pm
post #12 of 37

I hope this is my last question of the day...

Are there any specific gumpaste tools you recommend for a feather texture? I have seen so many tools for fondant and gumpaste, but I'm not sure which one would be good to "carve" in feathers.

I hope I'm not getting in over my head, trying to copy a Martha Stewart cake.


Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 5:36pm
post #13 of 37

You could also make the branches out of wire that is covered w/fondant. And Wilton sells a gumpaste tool kit. $30 at michaels. It has everything you could need.

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 5:39pm
post #14 of 37

I saw that kit a while back, when I had a 50% off coupon. *$#&$%&^#*!!!

I guess I can just use one of the pointier ends and carve into the bird. I think I may also check out the arts & crafts section where they have the sculpey clay and see if they have any special instruments.

Thanks again!

Rosie2 Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 5:46pm
post #15 of 37

Great info, thank you!

Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 5:57pm
post #16 of 37

Toothpick will also work to put in those small details. icon_smile.gif

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:04pm
post #17 of 37

Bskinne, I heart you.

I wish I could "bskinne" LOL!

I lied about it being my last question of the day. Is it possible to store your figurines in an airtight container and come back to working on them? I don't see this being something I can do in a day. I just want to make sure I don't put all this time and effort into making them and have them dry out.

LisaPeps Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:21pm
post #18 of 37

Gunpaste dries out really quickly so you'd probably have to do them all in a day.

The only way to keep it from drying out is to wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap, I think doing that would mush up what you had sculpted though.

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:22pm
post #19 of 37

Oh total bummer! Is there any way to moisten it if it dries out?

Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:35pm
post #20 of 37

Well, depends on how you do it...if you sculpt the bodies and head, but wanted to do the wings later, you could attach them to the body with a damp paintbrush, you could. You just can't resculpt a part that has already dried.

Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:38pm
post #21 of 37

Make sure you keep unused gumpaste wrapped tightly in a ziploc bag so it won't dry out! And no problem, I'm glad I could help! icon_smile.gif

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:39pm
post #22 of 37

Thanks again. I will try to post pictures when I start this little adventure!

Hope you have a great weekend!

Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:41pm
post #23 of 37

Can't wait to see it!! It will be beautiful!

Apti Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:48pm
post #24 of 37

OP, I just started 2 months ago making gumpaste/fondant bows, molds etc. Yesterday I used a loop bow I'd made two months ago on a cake, it was hard as a rock and worked great. You cannot store your already made figures in an airtight container once they are done and work on them later. If you store gumpaste bows, figures, molds in an airtight container once they are done, they will very slowly soften and flatten. I store mine in a cardboard box that is NOT airtight and they will last indefinitely I'm told. I just use the already made gumpaste by Wilton and mix with fondant and it works great.

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 6:59pm
post #25 of 37

Thanks Apti!

Now may I ask what is the advantage of adding fondant into the gumpaste? Does it make it more pliable?

Thanks again everyone!

Bskinne Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 7:09pm
post #26 of 37

I don't mix mine with anything. Not sure what the benefit is. The whole reason I recommend the Wilton highly is because if you follow the package instructions, you cannot mess it up. Perfect consistency. I've never tried making my own just because of how simple it is, and it makes a pound. Costs about $5 at Michaels, so all in all, it's a win-win for me.

sabre Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 7:17pm
post #27 of 37

In the sculpting clay department of craft stores, you'll find a set of 3 metal ball tools that are excellent for softening flower petals or forming figures.

KayMc Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 7:21pm
post #28 of 37

I've only ever used the Nicholas Lodge recipe. It is super easy to make, and is very friendly to work with. It is MUCH, MUCH cheaper than buying the ready to use Wilton. I have stored the unused dough in double plastic bags, then a tupperware container in fridge for a month, and then used it with no difficulty.

Apti Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 7:22pm
post #29 of 37

AnnieCahill, I just finished the Wilton Fondant and Gumpaste course. Here's what the Course 3 booklet says: "Difference between these 2 dough-like icings? Each has properties which make it best for certain types of decorating, but they often work well together. A 50/50 gum paste and fondant mix softens gumpaste to give you more time to decorate before dries." AND "Gum Paste: Used for flowers and other apps when you want to roll sections out very thin and have them dry quickly and completely. Used for most flowers, especially those that require ruffling. Whenever possible, use pre-colored fondant rather than icing color to color gum paste." AND "Fondant: used for covering the cake, making cut-outs and appliques, etc. Will not dry as hard as gum paste and will stay soft when applied over BC as cake covering.

I can scan and email you more info from the book if you PM me. You can also purchase the book online at eBay:

AnnieCahill Posted 24 Jul 2010 , 7:44pm
post #30 of 37

Thanks again for your help. You ladies are a wealth of information. I will give the Wilton a try, as I have a 40% off coupon for Michael's. Maybe later if I get more adventurous I can make the other recipe, but I don't know where to get the tylose for a good price. I'm not 100% sure I am going to go with this bird idea, but I think it would be fun to learn and I have always wanted to work with gumpaste.

This thread has been a great help to me. I hope other newbies are getting as much out of it as I am!

Sabre, thanks for the tip on the sculpting tools. I have actually spent the better part of the afternoon looking for clay sculpting techniques/tutorials. I mean, clay and gumpaste can't be that much different, right? icon_smile.gif I guess I would eat clay in a pinch, LOL.

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