Saturday, October 5, 2013

Wii Super Mario Bros Birthday Cake: How to Make a Mario Figure

My grandson, Dustin just turned 6 years old. He absolutely loves playing Super Mario Bros on his Wii, so I decided that I would do his birthday cake with that theme.

I am very new at making fondant figures, but I think I did alright with this cake considering the time I actually had for it. I started the fondant decorations on the day of the party (INSANITY) because all of the pre-made decorations I worked on throughout the week met their doom in the disaster of over crowding my poor little, humble home with my older kids that are waiting to move into their own home in November (more INSANITY). Yes, we are extremely OVER crowded, and its tough, but it will pay off for all of us later on to have our whole family finally in Alabama. I have the grand babies here and I could not ask for more. :-)

I quickly recruited my daughter (birthday boys mother) to help throw this cake together with the time we didn't have. Luckily the cakes were baked the night before.

We had a heck of a time following my original plan for this cake because the original plan required drying time which we did not have. Even though the cake plans changed, and I used this opportunity to teach my daughter on the fly, I can still describe the methods to use, as well as those that I would advise against. This cake has a lot going on that I advise against, including last minute decorating!


Coloring

White gum paste colored using color dust with a bit of alcohol.
Wet application!
Beginning with the Mario figure, at first, I made him standing which is the photo shown here. I also used color dusts with a little alcohol to paint him. The colors were bright and vibrant, but I really didn't like the multi tones of the colors. They looked blotchy, and it also stayed wet forever it seemed. Every time I tried to move or touch it, I left finger prints and smudges.

The figure on the cake that I actually used was just color dusted. I didn't have time to color a whole new batch of fondant, so I attempted to use the color dusts.

I recommend that you start with the colors of fondant that you need rather than trying to paint over the white fondant. Then, to brighten it up, use dry color dust and steam the finished figure. You   really don't even have to use dust if you are happy with the colors of your fondant. Steam will also brighten your colors whether you dust or not.

So...through this trial and error, and the amount of time I had to do this cake, I learned a few to do and not to do techniques. I will explain the proper techniques for this cake as well as an addition that notes how I did it in order to get it done in time.


How to make a Mario figure with fondant or gum paste

White gum paste colored using color dust.
Dry application!
Colors you will need to dye your fondant/gum paste.
  • Blue - Pants, eyes
  • Red - Shirt and hat
  • Brown - Shoes, mustache, hair, eye brows
  • Black - eyes
  • Yellow - buttons
  • Skin color - Skin
  • White - eyes

You may use black for all hair and shoes if you would like, instead of brown. You will need brown for another character anyways.

Now on with building Mario.


Blue Pants/legs

For the standing figure, take enough fondant to shape into a smooth rectangular shape that will cover the area from the top of his chest to the bottom of his legs. This will be his pants.

Once you get a smooth surface by rubbing any cracks or seems with your fingers or fondant smoother, cut the length of his legs. It should be like half way up the rectangle.

Shape each leg so there are no corners or flat edges and the legs are cylindrical.

Using a ball tool, press indents into the bottoms of the pant legs. That area is where we will insert the tops of his shoes.

Round out the edges of the top of the pants as well shaping it for the figure rather than leaving it square.

Indent the top from what will be shoulder to shoulder. It will look like a half pipe and is intended to secure the red shirt we will add next.

Wet a toothpick and slide them 2/3 of the way into the bottom of each leg so that there is 1/3 of each toothpick sticking out to attach the shoes later.

You can take paper towels and scrunch them up for a soft surface to lay the part on so you don't cause any flat spots from laying him on a flat surface.

Allow this part to dry over night.

***If you start early and let each piece dry, your figure will come together easier and a lot nicer. If you don't have the drying time, than you will need to prop your pieces in place until they do dry, and that tends to cause some hardships trying to keep shape as you move it around and add additional parts.


Red Shirt/arms

Using the red fondant, roll a snake shape that's half as thick as the legs you cut.

Using a bit of fondant with a little water, make a gel type glue.

With a small paint brush or Q-Tip, put a small amount of glue on the top of the blue pants piece that should now be dry and hardened.

Place your red snake you formed into the impression evenly centered so each arm is the same length. Trim anything that's too long with a blade or scissors. Keep in mind that he will have hands added later when you trim the size.

Place a round finger imprint in the center of the red that's over the blue. This will allow for the head when you are ready to put that on.

Glue a toothpick and poke it into the center, going down the center of the body 2/3 of the way, leaving 1/3 of the toothpick exposed where we will attach the head.

Shape the arms as you want them, propping them with foil or paper towels if needed to dry.

Put an indent at the end of each shirt sleeve and insert a glued toothpick through with only enough exposed for the hands to be fixed to.

Let the figure dry over night.

***The figure on the cake hands were molded with the arm. I decided it was a nicer outcome to add the hands separately and it allows for more depth and distinguished parts. The sleeve actually looks more like a sleeve when the two parts are divided this way.

White Hands

After drying time, shape the hands by using white fondant. Squeeze a ball into a thicker, elongated disk. Pinch the wrist end to form a round that will fit into the indents you put in the end of the sleeves. Cut 5 fingers into the finger side of the hands. Round the fingers out by gently rolling between your fingers. If needed, trim fingers to appropriate length, and pull the thumb off to the side a bit.

Using your glue, brush some glue onto the indent and toothpick you put into the arm and slide the wrist part of the hand securely onto the toothpick and make any adjustments so that the 2 pieces fit tightly together. Let it dry completely.

***For me, hands are difficult. Don't think hands though. Think gloves, and keep those fingers plump and rounded, not long and skinny! I made the long and skinny mistake here and it turns out better thinking gloves instead of shaping fingers.

Brown Shoes

To make his shoes, use brown or black (which ever you decide). Shape his shoes. Use a toothpick to shape the heel in the bottom if desired. Pinch enough fondant toward the ankle area to just fill the indent you left at the bottom of his pants.

Brush glue over toothpick and the indent and lightly place your shoes onto the toothpicks securely, shaping the upper pinch of the shoe into the indent so it fits tightly all the way around and only the shoe itself is visible.
Let it dry completely before moving the figure.

***As for everything, practice makes perfect. Shoes seem easy enough, but somehow, I just fail to keep them the same shape. Drying is important before putting weight on any parts, and the shoes flatten if you don't dry them completely before allowing the weight of the figure.

***If you are looking for a standing figure, the best way to get him to stand is to insert a skewer through each leg that you can poke into the cake to support the weight of the figure as well as balance it. Do this by inserting skewers into his legs instead f the toothpicks, and simply push the shoes up to the pant legs.

Head

Mario's head is a bit more detailed, and I find that the problems I have most with figures is eyes and hands.

Begin with a skin color fondant. I usually add just a bit of brown color to white fondant to get a light skin color. Don't use enough to brown your fondant, but just enough to add some tint so its not just white.

***I didn't add quite enough brown to my second figures skin, but at least the little I added toned down the white.

Shape the head in correlation with the size and structure of the body. Mario's head does not have to be perfect and compared to Luigi, Mario has a rounder head.

Ears

After shaping the head, take 2 small skin colored pieces of gum paste, roll them between your fingers to make a round ball. Using the small end of a ball tool, indent the circular shape into one side of the round ball. Glue one edge with the indent facing toward the front of the head, and attach on each side of the head with a dab of glue. Top of the ear should be placed at the level of his eyes, and the bottom of the ear should be at mouth level. Elongate each ear if needed.

***A LITTLE smudge of glue goes a LONG way. Too much will take a lot longer to dry and where any glue touches the fondant, it kind of shows as a stain we shall say. Use just small amounts of glue for the best results.

Eyes

Mario's eyes are built using white, blue, and black colors. They are layered and each layer should be as thin as you can achieve.

Beginning with white gum paste, cut 2 equal sized "U" shapes. One edge should be flat and straight, and the opposite edge should be rounded. The straight edge goes to the bottom of the eye.

The next layer should be blue, and the same "U" shape should be cut, but then cut in half from the round end to the flat end. Glue this piece to the right side of each white piece, only allowing the left portion of white to show around the blue.

The third layer is the black pupil. They can be simple round dots with a small speck of white to finish the shine on each eye.

Glue each eye with the top of the eye level to the top of the ear. Be sure that the eyes are placed on the face with the colored layers on the right side or he will look cross eyed.

I am terrible with eyes and tiny detail, but...

***I painted with wet color dust for the blue on the eyes, and although it could have been neater painting, I dont like the look of it. If you paint well, you may want to experiment with this because if you are good at it, it may turn out better than layering such small pieces.

Mouth

The mouth is similar to the eyes to build because it is achieved in layers. You will need black, red, and white colored gumpastes.

Take a tiny piece of black gum paste and roll it into a ball, flatten it. Pinch each side of the circle to form corners for the mouth.

Make a tiny thin rope out of white and flatten the length. Place from corner to corner (where you pinched the black) Make lines with a toothpick to make it look like teeth.

With the red gumpaste, make another thin rope to attach as the bottom lip at the very edge of the bottom of the black. 

Attach the finished mouth just below the bottom of each ear on the face.

Mustache and eyebrows

Now that most of your face is visible, you can determine exactly  how big you want to make his mustache and eyebrows.

Using brown, make little ropes and cut them to length. Use a toothpick to imprint hair lines and give them some texture and shape.

Attach them to the face appropriately. The bottom of the mustache should go just over where the top lip would be.

Nose

Let's face it, Mario has a big nose. Simply making a round ball with skin color gum paste should be sufficient for this figure. Just glue it on so that it over laps the bottom of the middle of the eyes and just on the top of the mustache.

Hair

Using brown colored gum paste, make ropes and add texture just as you did for the mustache and eyebrows. Attach where the hat you will make wont cover. Just on either side of the ears for sideburns and in the back below the hat. You may want to build the hat before you decide where the hair will go.

Hat

Using red gumpaste, roll a ball and press it into a disk that is large  enough to cover his head. On the front side of the hat, push the gumpaste until the front side of the disk has a taller surface area while the back is flat still.

For the visor on his hat, simply cut a half moon shape from red gumpaste and glue it to the front of the top of his head, then glue the top part of the hat over that.

Using white gum paste, cut a small circle that will fit onto the front thicker portion of the hat. Before gluing it on, use a black food writer marker to write an "M" for Mario. Glue the circle to the hat.


I will be doing this figure again, and will provide a video with full details as soon as I get the chance.
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