Airbrush Disaster--What Did I Do Wrong?

Decorating By handymama Updated 23 Mar 2009 , 7:55pm by londonpeach

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handymama Posted 7 Mar 2009 , 7:39am
post #1 of 20

I've only used my Airmaster airbrush a few times, but so far it's been a bad experience. Tonight I had a large, life-size tool box that I airbrushed red (on fondant). I held the brush about 10"-12" back from the cake and tried to use even strokes. I did 3-4 coats, drying in between, in an effort to get an even look but it's terribly blotchy. The worst part is that it then took me three hours to clean the red mist off of every single surface in my bakery! My hands and clothes look like I committed murder, it's after 2:30 in the morning, and I'm now dreading delivering a cake that I was originally excited about. To top it off, the thing has started to lean and look a bit lumpy.

19 replies
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Kiddiekakes Posted 7 Mar 2009 , 4:26pm
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Airbrushing is a learned art..It took me many tries with the same result..Now having said that.....It is all in the control of the gun.It also helps to have a turntable that you constantly rotate to get an even spray.When I am spraying a cake all one color I spin the turtntable all the time and hold the trigger down in one spot to get an even coat and then I gradually lift the gun higher and higher ...but it is a process.If you are stopping and starting the gun tends to spot spray and not gradually coat so that is why I suggest a truntable.Red...especially the Americolor super red is also hard to spray with because it comes of sort of a brick red instead of an intense red.That is why I like to add a drop of yellow mixed with the red in the cup to brighten it up.You also have to step back and allow it to dry because colors like blue and Lavender purple change color as they dry.Fondant is definetly easier to spray than buttercream because the color tends to puddle if you get too close to the cake and then it is unfixable.It will do this also with fondant but it dries quicker.HTH

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Ren-agade Posted 7 Mar 2009 , 5:52pm
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On thing you can do to keep you bakery clean while you spray, place you cake on a turn table that has been place in a large cardboard box with one of the sides cut off. Or you can put your spraying station against the wall, and Put sheets, or tarps, on each side of you table. That should help keep the spray in one space. Plus I would suggest cleaning the nossle after every use, that way the spray should come out in a steady spray, instead of sputtering, which could cause a blotchy finish. hope that helps.

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leah_s Posted 7 Mar 2009 , 11:52pm
post #4 of 20

You totally need a big box. I keep one just for airbrushing into. You really shouldn't just spray into the air, as you discovered.

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handymama Posted 8 Mar 2009 , 1:09am
post #5 of 20

It was Americolor Super Red that I used, and a few spots looked almost black. There's a picture of it in my photos now; if anyone has time to take a look and critique I'd appreciate itThe little cup on top of the brush emptied out so fast that I bet I filled it at least twenty times. Do you all use brushes with the jar at the bottom? I've been concerned that I might bump into the cake with that one. Also, I had the pressure turned all the way up. Was that the thing to do? Meanwhile, my husband and I spent most of today cleaning in the bakery and it's still not done.

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doreenre Posted 8 Mar 2009 , 1:24am
post #6 of 20

I've had trouble w/ red in the past and have learned a few things.

1. You definitely need a more confined space when airbrushing. Any 'ol box will do the trick.

2. For intense colors like red, I tint my fondant while kneading, as red or pink as possible before airbrushing. It takes a lot longer to airbrush red on to white fondant.

3. As a last resort, I've used a paint brush to apply the airbrush color (short, even strokes in the same direction), THEN went over it again w/ the airbrush.

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tinygoose Posted 8 Mar 2009 , 1:53am
post #7 of 20

The blotchy mark may have also been where you got a few bc fingerprints on the white fondant before spraying. I did this with my Retro TV the other day and was surprised that the area that had a touch of bc on it was grey not brown. The party was dark so it didn't really matter, but I only got one pic that it did really show up on. Mine was also really blotch, so I just kept spraying and spraying brown til it finally evened out. Red is hard though. I've had problems with my apple too.

I think your cake looks great!! The hardest cake in the world to make is a box. There's nothing to hide the flaws. Great job!!

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kakeladi Posted 8 Mar 2009 , 11:36pm
post #8 of 20

Step away from the cake icon_smile.gif
Yes, I see what you are talking about but.....I think it makes the tool box look real!

In my opinion you are holding the airbrush too far from the cake. I almost never go farther away than maybe 7-8" - usually more like 4".

Yes, it could be your color. The 1st bottle of red I had was terrible.....dull and dark. It wasn't until several yrs later when I finally had used it up and got a new bottle that I found it was the color - not anything I was doing wrong.

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SpoonfulofSugar Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 4:27pm
post #9 of 20

I looked at your picture and I think it makes it look more realistic...funny how we think our cake looks horrible but it really doesn't....I think it's something to do with it not looking the way it was imagined....anyway it looks great to me

and for the the other's said use a box and a turntable that will help

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tinygoose Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 4:36pm
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by handymama

Do you all use brushes with the jar at the bottom? I've been concerned that I might bump into the cake with that one. Also, I had the pressure turned all the way up. Was that the thing to do? .

18-20 psi is plenty to airbrush a cake, and if you are doing one color it is probably better to use the jar since there is less refilling/mixing.

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xinue Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 4:50pm
post #11 of 20

Hi! I just saw the pic, and it gives the tool box a little extra... Anyway, I took airbrushig lessons and they told me that the key to avoid what happend to you is never to start or finish spraying over the cake, you have to do it outside the edges. If you look closely you'll see the problem is that the edges of the box look darker. Use a soft horizontal movement, and the other trick I've learned is never to use a color as it comes from the bottle, always mix a few dorps of other color depending on the result you want. For this case I would have used a little yellow. Keep practicing that's the key! and as everyone sair use a big box to keep everything clean!

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julzs71 Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 7:02pm
post #12 of 20

I think it is your strokes also. Get a box. Sometimes I will do the entire cake with a color and just put a light pearl dust on it just to make it shine more. If I have small imperfections, it helps to even this out.
I do think that you needed to frost it and then let it settle a bit. Or your support rods were a little too low and you got a slight bulge.
I think your cake looks good and my husband would love it.

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prterrell Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 9:24pm
post #13 of 20

Have you blown your nose since you did all that airbrushing? Gross, isn't it? I suggest you wear those paper filter masks like people wear when doing dusty yard work, etc, when you are airbrushing so you don't breathe in any of the dye.

I agree with the PP that you don't need to hold the airbrush gun that far away from the cake. I don't think I've ever held one further away than 6".

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handymama Posted 9 Mar 2009 , 10:13pm
post #14 of 20

Thanks for all of the input. Yes, blew my nose--can only imagine if I'd been spraying green or purple! When I took a shower the water ran red from the color in my hair.

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hallow3 Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 1:58pm
post #15 of 20

My husband and I used the airbrush for the first time about two weeks ago. Lessons Learned: 1. We will buy or make a box to airbrush in, We are still cleaning blue off everything, even upstairs.
2. we will buy a face mask. My husband blew his nose this week and he it was still blue.

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Jenn2179 Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 2:11pm
post #16 of 20

I don't have any hints. Still trying to figure out the airbrush thing myself. Luckily for me I am taking an advanced airbrush class with Bronwen Weber in May.

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Dabhand Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 3:36pm
post #17 of 20

I have never airbrushed a cake - but will get round to it soon - but I do do airbrush tanning ( similar ) If you start on the cake you will get blotches for sure, start spraying just off to the side & same when you stop. Also I would think that if you had the nozzle fully open that would be too much & another reason for the spray to go all over the place - dont give up on it, keep up the good work.

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handymama Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 3:37pm
post #18 of 20

Oh Jenn--lucky, lucky you! I sure don't need one more project, but I'm looking forward to getting my booth built. A big box would definitely be an improvement over not using anything, but I really want that exhaust fan.

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JenniferMI Posted 22 Mar 2009 , 12:52pm
post #19 of 20

N -

Yup, you need a big box to place the cake in when doing LOTS of color.
Sounds like you were using the gun "wide open".... when I airbrush a cake, I don't pull the lever back TO far....use light coats, keep moving..... let dry between. Hold airbrush closer, too.
Also, if you smooth with a hot knife on buttercream, you can get splotchy spots from where the knife hit the icing.

We can talk at lunch tomorrow..... icon_smile.gif I look forward to seeing you.

Jen icon_smile.gif
PS - I'll go check out your cake

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londonpeach Posted 23 Mar 2009 , 7:55pm
post #20 of 20

My hubby came home with an airbrush for me yesterday (not the one i'd chosen but the thought was there), so i've found this thread interesting.
I can't use my airbrush for a couple of weeks as i'm busy making 2 wedding cakes but can't wait to get started......not before I get a big box first though icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

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