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How To: Easy DIY Fondant Character Cake Toppers

In my last post I shared my second Angry Birds cake, where Red was applied as a fondant topper (unlike the first one where the cake itself was carved and iced into his distinct shape). This style of fondant cake topper is one of my go-to methods of easy cake DIY. This demo is using Red as an example but you can use this method to create almost any basic character.

You’ll want to start by printing an image of your character to use as your template. I resize my image so it is scaled appropriately for my cake and then print it in grayscale to save on color ink. In this example I also included a mini version to use as a color reference.

Starting with my main color, which was red, I rolled out some white fondant I’d tinted with gel colors. The levels that come with my fondant rolling pin ensure that each piece will be the same thickness so in the final image every layer will have the same height and the silicon mat guarantees that the fondant won’t stick to my work surface. Tip: if you find your fondant mat slides around, dampen a few spots underneath with a bit of water and it will “stick” to your table or countertop. Make sure the piece you roll out is large enough for the area you want to cut out.

Lay your template directly onto the fondant. If your fondant is really sticky you can lightly grease the back of your paper with shortening but I always let my fondant rest for a few minutes to make it easier to cut, and so have never needed to do this. Trace the image by poking little dots at regular intervals right through the paper and into the fondant.

Note: you’ll need to take a moment and figure out if your finished piece will be flat or multilayered. For mine I decided that the face portion (eyebrows, eyes, and beak) and the red gem would be a raised layer, whereas the body, belly and crown would be the bottom layer. Finally, his pupils would be a third layer. You can see in the image above that I traced the red body right around the white belly, ignoring the beak. If you wanted to make only one layer you would have traced the red around the beak, eyes and brows.

You can use anything with a small, fine point for this step. I used the needle tool that came in my fondant/gum paste starter tool set but have also used sewing pins or the end of a clean paperclip.

Next, cut out your shape using the dotted line as a cutting guide. I used the knife blade that’s on the other side of my needle tool linked above, but you can use a regular kitchen knife.

Here you can see that the piece of fondant is exactly the same size as the template.

I like to transfer the fondant to a stiff transparent sheet before setting it aside. I’m a huge fan of flexible clear cutting boards like these and use them in almost every cake I make. They’re fantastic for toppers like these because you can lay your work in progress right over the template and repeatedly check that things are fitting as they should.

I repeated the same steps to cut the crown and beak out of yellow-tinted fondant, and then the eyes and belly out of white. The cut side edges of the fondant should be moist enough for it to stick together (like when insetting the crown, above) but if not you can lightly dampen them with a bit of water on a brush or cotton swab.

Repeat the process for all required pieces to make up your character. For King Red that meant the red body and gem, white belly and eyes, yellow crown and beak, black brows and pupils, and a maroon-ish inner beak area. I assembled each layer as I went, consistently checking that everything was aligning correctly by placing the clear board over my template.

Depending on your character you could be done at this point. To give mine a finished cartoon look and to fully match my sample image I used edible markers to outline the shapes and detail the crown.

My last step was to use leftover red fondant for the birthday boy’s name. I always make these toppers in advance and so was able to set them aside for a few days so they could air dry.

A great thing about using the pin technique (vs cutting up and tracing your template) is that the template is reusable. You can either re-dot in the same holes or simply press your paper onto the fondant and transfer the hole marks that are already there. Because I let my fondant set up slightly before piercing I had no transfer of fondant or tint onto my paper.

You now have a custom fondant topper ready to use for any decorative purpose! I like to prep a cake using my tutorial and then finish it with this style topper. You can also make mini versions for cupcakes using the same method.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Fondant Angry Birds Cake

A few months ago I posted a version of an Angry Birds cake where Red was created by shaping the cake and using icing for the different colors. Yesterday was Rovio’s Bird Day so it’s a perfect time to share this alternate version where the character is created using fondant.

This is an easier method for those who aren’t comfortable cake sculpting. I also find fondant is more forgiving and easier in fixing mistakes than icing, though that’s a personal preference.

Step one is to make the cake topper out of fondant. I use fondant toppers on a lot of my cakes (ie: Elmo, CARS, Charlie & Lola, Neko Atsume, Super Smash Bros) because I love the flexibility of being able to prep the topper in advance so I’m not rushing the day before the cake is due.

This cake uses a template to make a cut fondant topper. You can find my full tutorial here.

The cake was prepared using the same steps as in my post on How to Bake a Cake and Prepare it for Decorating.

Once the cake is ready all that’s left is to place the pre-made fondant pieces onto the cake.

I love how simple character-topped cakes can have a big impact by giving the birthday child exactly what they want without breaking the bank on supplies or causing unnecessary stress.


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DIY Custom Wooden Puzzle

Like many others, my mother got really into puzzles during the pandemic. So when Hanukkah rolled around the boys wanted to give her a custom puzzle as a gift. Being a maker I knew we could make one ourselves, and here’s how we did it. With 3 weeks left until Hanukkah and even longer until Christmas you’ve got plenty of time to make a custom gift for the puzzle lover in your life.

To get started you’ll need a puzzle to customize. We wanted a wooden one to be sure it would hold up to being painted then colored. We found this one at our local Dollarama but there are a number of good options on Amazon. You can get a 4-pack of flat puzzles or go for a cube style and make a custom puzzle with multiple images!

Assemble the puzzle over a drop cloth or protective surface. If your puzzle has a gift box or lid you’d like to decorate as well, open it flat. Our box simply unfolded; if yours is glued together you can ease it apart and re-glue it later, or prime it in sections.

You have two options for primer – you can go with a spray primer option like we did, or you can use white gesso and foam brushes and paint it on instead.

Use light, thin coats of primer to get a solid, even coverage. If spraying indoors like I did make sure your drop cloth covers ALL nearby surfaces. (My black dining room chairs now have faint white stripes…oops!).

Once the primer is fully dry you’ll want to disassemble the puzzle and lightly sand the edges of each piece. This will ensure no primer dripped down which could prevent proper assembly later.

Put the puzzle back together and you’re done! You now have a blank, white puzzle and box ready to customize however you’d like.

From this point it’s no longer a tutorial as there are unlimited ways you could decorate your puzzle, but I’ll show what the boys did for their grandmother.

They used the Crayola Air Marker Sprayer Airbrush Kit. I’ve got a full review of the airbrush coming soon but spoiler alert – it’s great! It comes with a few markers in the box but we’ve found that it’s compatible with all Crayola markers that have the same barrel size, so I picked up this pack of 16 Crayola Pip-Squeaks washable markers so the kids would have extra colors to choose from. They worked perfectly with the airbrush and washed off all hands, clothes and my plastic protective cloth.

The boys took turns adding colors to the puzzle and then used the airbrush kit’s included stencils to add little details like the stars and sun.

The primer does keep the water-based marker ink from absorbing as quickly as it would into paper, so it’s a good idea to let it dry fully before handling. While ours was drying the boys took turns decorating the gift box.

They had fun testing out the different stencils and playing with color, and then we let everything dry further.

The final step for the kids was to use glitter glue to add sparkle to the puzzle, and then let that dry as well.

Here’s their completed puzzle:

It reminds me of the tie-dyed scarves we used to hang on our bedroom walls in the 90s!

A combination of the puzzle fitting really well together and the primer filling any residual cracks meant that there was no bleed-through of the primer or marker spray onto the back of the puzzle.

They added more glitter glue to the gift box and a few extra details like a birthday message and some outline work.

I’d accidentally left the plastic window on the box when spraying it so I cut a new square of plastic from some leftover packaging and glued it into place. Then I put the plastic handle back onto the box.

With that the boys had a completely unique gift for their puzzle-loving Bubbie.

There are SO MANY ways you can customize your own puzzle! These can be painted, colored with markers, watercolor, colored pencil, or even decoupage with tissue or thin paper (and then re-cut the puzzle shapes with a sharp blade). You can even play with the texture of the primer you use, like giving a waterfront scene sand medium for the beach and texture medium for the lapping waves. The possibilities are truly endless.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Play Furniture and Pretend Food From Recycled Materials

November 15th was National Recycling Day and I thought it would be fun to share some toy accessories that you can make by recycling materials you have on-hand.

This all started back when Henri had received a Zhu-Zhu Pets toy hamster for Hanukkah one year. It wasn’t long before his “pet” needed to have its own house and so we adapted a shoe box into rooms with a garage.

Of course every home needs furnishings and that’s where these projects came in. According to Henri there was a bedroom, kitchen and living room, so I tailored what I made to that, but you can easily adapt any of these little projects to your rooms of choice.

The first recycled materials to be used were an egg carton and a plastic bendy straw. Cut out sections of the carton to create different types of furniture.

The cups that hold the eggs became armchairs (when the upper rim was kept on 3/4 of the edge) and a table (when flipped upside down and trimmed to have legs).

Two of the flat base of the egg cups were cut out to become vessels for food and water, and finally the divider piece that separates the eggs was cut out to become a lampshade.

One of the cup bases was painted silver to become a serving plate and the slightly deeper one had the inside painted blue to appear like water. To make the most out of using what I had on hand (pun intended!) I painted them both with nail polish!

The lamp shade was painted Henri’s color of choice with regular acrylic paints and then set aside to dry.

Once dry it was time to assemble the lamp. You need a base that’s sturdy and heavy enough to support the weight of the shade. You could use wood blocks, a little box filled with rice or sand, or anything else heavy enough. I used a few spare washers I found in my toolbox.

I cut a felt circle for the base and hot-glued the washers on top in descending size order, making sure to keep their holes lined up. I also glued a decorative bead to the top of the lampshade.

The shade was filled with hot glue to set the straw in place and then more glue was used to attach it inside the tower of washers.

With that, the little hamster’s living room lamp was complete!

The bendy bit of the straw was a nice touch, allowing the lamp to be angled wherever the little guy needed.

The silver platter received a coat of clear nail polish to seal it and the water bowl was filled with more hot glue to look full.

To make the pretend food for the hamster takes only three supplies – a pool noodle, fabric paint, and scissors.

That’s right – all these little pretend foodstuffs are actually squishies! They’re really easy to make: simply cut pieces of the pool noodle foam into the general shape of the food item then use fabric paint to make them look like their respective foods. A toothpick comes in handy instead of a paintbrush when working at such small sizes. I scaled my foods to the size of the egg carton “plate” and made (clockwise from top right) pepperoni pizza, chocolate chip cookies, donuts, a cheeseburger, and a chocolate cake.

The food storage bin was made from plastic canvas and yarn scraps.

First I made a base large enough to hold all the food. The lid is the same size but less deep, and the faux latch is simply stitched on top. The lid was sewn to the base all along the back edge but I used the same gold yarn as the latch to embroider 2 fake “hinges”.

The living room furniture was painted black and copper “studs” were added with a paint pen. One neat thing about using the egg cups is that the furniture will stack which makes putting it away after playtime that much easier.

Finally the hamster’s cardboard box bed was upgraded to one with a full headboard and footboard, and painted with gold glitter paint.

I used scraps of white felt and stuffing remnants to make a mini mattress and pillow, and leftover sock yarn knit up quickly to make a colorful blanket.

One evening of crafting and by morning the hamster had his house completely tricked out. Henri was really excited to set everything in place and added more to the decor by painting a rug in the living room and even drawing a TV on the wall!

Bonus – I wanted to take some current pics to show how well these little accessories held up after 6 years and we thought it would be really cute to include Jakob’s REAL hamster for scale. Here’s Dusty enjoying a little nap…

…and here he is foraging in the snack box looking to see what other treats there might be.

These were such simple, quick and easy DIYs to make and became playtime accessories that were loved and used over and over, AND held up incredibly well over the years. I hope this post gives you some ideas on how you can recycle items from around the house and give them new life with a new use.


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Game of Death Cake

Have you ever seen the movie Game of Death?

This award-winning horror movie came out in 2017 and featured a 90s-style game played by a gang of unassuming teens. Unlike Jumanji the consequences of playing this game are a LOT more gruesome and bloody. It also happened to be produced by one of my dear cousins, and he asked if I could make the cake for their wrap party.

This is the “Game of Death” gameboard as seen in the movie:

And this is my cake replica:

With Halloween just around the corner I thought it was the perfect time to share exactly how I made it!

The first step was to get a few good quality images of the prop that I could use for reference.

I was also asked if I could make a gluten-free option so there’d be something for those with intolerances. I was given a few reference images of the deaths and other props being used and when I saw that one character met an untimely end with a broken baseball bat I knew that would be something I could easily sculpt out of gluten-free puffed rice cereal.

While there were a lot of steps in making this cake it only took 3 days from start to finish. I’m going to break down everything but to avoid this being incredibly photo-heavy I’ve grouped the images of each step together.

The first step for all of my cakes is to sketch out an idea. Knowing I needed to transport the cake I went out and bought the largest cake board that would fit in a cake box I could find locally. That let me know what total dimensions I had to work with. That allowed me to size out my cake pans and figure out what would work best for the game cake. I then scaled a clear, top-down view of the game board to the appropriate size and traced it out so I could have an accurately-sized template.

I tried to do as much in advance as I could, as some of the parts would need time to dry or cool. The next task for day 1 was to make the gameboard’s window pane. I’d been asked to write a congratulatory message to the cast underneath, and while I could have simply written the image on a slab of fondant and set it in place I was determined to see if I could make the “glass” too. While browsing my local bulk store I noticed these clear candy mints and thought they’d be perfect!

I crushed the candies in a plastic bag using a meat mallet and then slowly melted the candy powder in the microwave until they reached a soft, pliable stage. Since I had a scale template I was able to test my cookie-cutters to find the right size and then trim off the excess with a kitchen knife. Once my “glass screen” was ready I set it aside to cool and harden.

Still on day 1 I rolled out some white fondant and made the center skull, all the minis, and the curved bits that line each player spot. I also cut out a base to put under the glass screen so I would have somewhere to write the message. Using a fondant roller and mat was really convenient as the roller has level guides so the pieces were all of equal thickness and the mat has measurements built right in.

I then made a large batch of gluten-free puffed rice treats and sculpted them into the two halves of a baseball bat, ensuring they would fit properly on my cake board. (Another benefit of having a scale template!).

The final thing I did on day 1 (not shown) was to bake the actual cake. I was given free reign on flavor and picked vanilla as it would work best with a special request I’d been asked – could I make the cake bleed when cut. I followed my usual methods and baked a bit of extra batter in a mini cake pan as I wanted to test the bleeding effect. I didn’t want to take a chance on the actual cake just in case it didn’t work so this little tester would be perfect.

Day 2 began with making edible fake blood. The best recipe I’ve found is to mix up chocolate syrup (like for chocolate milk) with clear corn syrup and a bit of red food coloring. Adjust the ratios until you get a consistency you like. In a subsequent cake I made a thicker version that is more realistic but for this cake I deliberately thinned it a touch so it would be able to be runny when cut.

I cut a well into my test cake’s bottom layer and iced it carefully so the “blood” wouldn’t soak into the cake itself. I then added the top layer and iced the whole thing and waited a few hours to be sure no red tint seeped through to the exterior. Then my kids helped me cut it and test if it worked:

It did! I was really excited knowing I could add additional wells into the real cake for an even more horrific effect.

I then painted the baseball bat treats with chocolate candy melts. Using a mug warmer was the perfect way to keep the candy warm long enough for me to get both pieces fully coated.

Then I wrapped each half with white fondant leaving the matching edges broken and torn to simulate where the wood would have splintered when the bat snapped in half. I used my fondant detail cutter to fray the edges further and add more realism, and then painted the fondant to look like wood. I’ve used this technique before and have a full tutorial on how to do it here.

With all the accessories and add-ons ready, day 3 was where it all came together!

I leveled my cake and torted it into 3 layers. These cake levelrs make it so easy to divide a cake into multiple levels evenly! The first layer was placed down on a round cake board and then iced, and the second layer was applied. I used a cupcake filler to cut a well in the center as well as add additional little surprise blood spots around the resulting ring. I was careful to not put them too close together so the cake would still have structural integrity, as I knew there would be a lot of fondant on top and I didn’t want it to collapse.

I also made sure to keep the cake bits from the corer as they’d come in handy in a minute.

I iced the middle layer, being careful to not disturb the cut edges too much while still evenly coating them in icing to provide a barrier between the blood fill and the cake itself. Then I carefully filled each well with the blood mixture leaving about a half-inch of space and then plugged the gaps with the cake pieces I’d saved. Finally, I iced the underside side of the remaining tier so when it was flipped onto the cake, the icing completely covered the plugs. This will prevent any of the blood from potentially bleeding into the upper tier.

Now that the cake was fully stacked I was able to use my scaled template to trim it to shape.

I then set the cake into place on the cake board, using a dollop of icing to “glue” it down. It was iced and then covered with gray fondant to match the game in the movie.

Then I used my template to cut out a slab of white fondant and used one of the fondant detail tools to trace each of the sections of the board, leaving imprints on the fondant that I could use as guides. I used edible food markers to color in each section, blending them with water when necessary to avoid too many streaks.

The topper was set into place and the edge trimmed with a border of white fondant. I “glued” each of the pre-made bits in place with a bit of water and then finally wrote the game’s logo on the front edge. (It went on all sides in the movie but I didn’t trust myself to write it evenly 8 times!)

The last step was to use a bit of watered-down fondant to “glue” the bats into place and then drizzle them with the fake blood mixture. I added in a few bits of fondant “gore” as an added touch. 😉

With that the Game of Death cake was complete! We delivered it to set on the final day and from the feedback I received it was a big hit!

(And it oozed “blood” perfectly when cut!)

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Ghost Cupcakes DIY

In today’s post I’m going to show you how to make these fast and easy ghost cupcakes, perfect for Hallowe’en!

The sweet treats can be prepped in advance and top homemade cupcakes or you can pick up store-bought cupcakes and throw the whole thing together last-minute.

I’d seen versions of this style topper on various sites around the internet and put mine together using the features I liked from various ones, plus added my own twist. These and these have fondant over marshmallows but I didn’t like the square look it gave the ghosts. These and these achieve a more rounded look by draping fondant over lollipops, but as my cupcakes were for a party for adults I didn’t think the lollipops would end up eaten. After browsing my local bulk shop I came up with the idea of topping the marshmallows with rounded gumdrop candies.

What you will need for the ghosts:

You can place each ghost in a treat bag and hand out as-is or use them to top homemade or store-bought cake or cupcakes.

Step 1: Assemble your marshmallows, gumdrops and sticks to prepare the ghost bases

Push the lollipop stick up through a marshmallow and halfway into a gumdrop. You can wet the top of the marshmallow first with a thin smear of icing, clear piping gel or light brush of water to help the marshmallow and gumdrop adhere together, however I found that the tackiness on the stick from being shoved through the marshmallow did not make this necessary.

Repeat until you have as many ghost bases as you need, then set them upright by pressing into foam, flower foam, egg cartons, etc…

Roll out your fondant and cut out a circle with your cutter. I topped each gumdrop with a small dollop of icing so the fondant would stick, but you can also use clear piping gel or water. Apply the fondant over the ghost base, centering the circle over the gumdrop and smooth into place. Use your fingers to crease the excess into ghostly folds. Note: don’t apply too much icing/water/gel or the fondant can thin and tear if it gets too wet.

Repeat for each ghost and set them aside in your chosen support so the fondant can set up a bit. If desired prep a cake or cupcakes to be ready for the toppers. I’d baked up some chocolate cupcakes and gave them a thin layer of vanilla icing.

Once the fondant is no longer pliable you can finish off your ghosties by adding black eyes with a black edible marker. You can play around with the eye shape to give them all unique expressions!

Repeat until all your ghosts can see and then set them into your cake/cupcakes (if using). If you are placing them into treat bags to give out as Hallowe’en favors, allow them to air-dry until the fondant sets up.

These were served along with the Paint Nite cake and cookies from my last post, and made for a really fun Hallowe’en party treat table!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Paint Nite Cake and Cookies

A few years ago I made a dessert for my friend Debbie’s surprise Hallowe’en-themed party. I was given the option to make cookies or a cake, so I chose both! This Paint Nite-inspired cake and cookie set is easy to make and looks way harder than it is!

You can start with a store-bought cake, or bake one yourself and prepare it for decorating with a layer of fondant to look like a tablecloth. I used white so the rest would stand out but you could use any color.

To make the easels you will need narrow rectangular cookies. You can bake your own or go the faster route and buy them! I used Cadbury Fingers but any log or stick-shaped cookie will do. You will need candy melts as the “glue” to hold the easel together so just be sure to match the candy melt color to your chosen cookies. Note- you don’t want to use regular chocolate for this as it will soften at room temperature and your easels will fall apart.

First make an A shape with a cookie going horizontally across two others for the easel’s ledge, and then after the candy melts set up use a 4th cookie as the vertical support leg. It’s easy to work this assembly-line style, being sure to leave enough time for the chocolate to set hard. I found that I only had to hold them in place for about a minute before they were able to stand on their own.

Of course any Paint Nite needs something to paint on! You can bake cookies yourself or use any rectangular cookie that has at least one flat side, like Biscoff, butter biscuits or shortbreads.

To make edible “paint” mix icing sugar with small amounts of water until you get a loose icing consistency. Paint Nite projects often have a gradient background with a silhouette design on top, so I used that style for my mini paintings. I chose Fall colors with pumpkin orange and white for a sunset and as this was a Hallowe’en party I added a black cat on a fence silhouette and full moon. This also worked well with the Paint Nite habit of using few colors in beginner paintings.

I painted the cookies much as you would at an actual Paint Nite – first painting the gradient background, then once dry adding the top layer.

The fun part was making each one just slightly different, while still being the same image – exactly how the results at a true Paint Nite would be. Everyone follows the same process and comes out with mostly the same image yet they’re all slightly unique to the individual artists.

I also used a few extra cookies to write a message for the birthday girl on her big day.

Of course, every Paint Nite requires supplies, so we need to add the solo cups-as-water cups, Styrofoam plate “palettes” and big orange brushes.

I made all the accessories out of scraps of fondant. For the solo cups simply layer a thin strip of white on top of the red before cutting out a strip to roll into a cup shape. The brushes are narrow rolls of fondant with the brush end dipped into the icing “paint”. The plates are small discs of white fondant smeared with dollops of leftover paint from painting the cookies. To make the “dirty” paint water I swirled a bit of each paint icing into clear piping gel.

Staging the table was super fun! Unlike a real Paint Nite where I try to be as neat as possible, here I got to be messy! I “glued” the fondant accessories in place with a small dab of water and then added drips and splatters of the paint to really sell the “end of the night of crafting” look.

I was so thrilled with how the final cake came out! It was one of the most fun cakes to make and allows for a ton of personalization. All the components can be homemade or store-bought which means this design can work with all budgets, and you can tailor the paintings to match any theme.

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Annual Halloween Roundup

It’s October, so that means it’s time for my annual roundup of costume-related patterns and tutorials available here on the blog.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make Minecraft Steve & Creeper heads.

Next up (with over 420,000 impressions on Pinterest in the last 60 days alone!) is a similar tutorial, this time for making a Minecraft Enderman head along with a diamond block trick-or-treat box.

Both projects include full charts for game-accurate colors and the exact hex codes for perfect color matching!

If your idea of fantasy is less block-based and more magical, here’s a free knitting pattern for an easy scarf in the Gryffindor house colors.

If training a dragon is more your thing, here’s how to make a viking vest.

If you prefer Pokemon to Night Furies, here’s an easy, last-minute Pikachu costume idea.

If your friends-group themed costume runs more Grease than Greninja, here’s how you can make a super simple Poodle skirt.

If you’re looking to visually upgrade some inexpensive props, here’s a demo on repainting plastic swords.

If you’ve got a last-minute party invite to deal with, here’s a SUPER quick ‘n easy Jughead Jones (from Archie Comics) costume tutorial with free burger dream bubble printable!

If your group costume needs accessories, here’s a free tutorial on making Super Mario Bros Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi hats

If you want to take those Mario Bros costumes one step further, here are instructions on making their respective mustaches

If you REALLY want to go all out, here’s the full costume breakdown with instructions on making an entire Wario costume

Finally, if you’ve got enough knitting time on your hands, you can knit my Baby’s First Superhero Costume pattern as-is with cute designs for boys and girls, or convert the chart and the colors to create your superhero of choice.

Find more tips and tutorials on my How-To page!


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Iced Angry Birds Cake

Over the years I’ve made a couple Angry Birds-themed cakes. Two of them were for members of the same family, and even though they were made years apart I wanted them to each feel unique. For this first one I used minimal fondant and worked with an iced base.

Cakes like this are pretty easy to do, and while I don’t have full step-by-step pics I’ll outline the process.

The bottom layer was baked and prepared exactly as in my post on how to bake a cake and prepare it for decorating. I then decorated the sides with Smarties (M&Ms for my American readers) and set it aside.

The top layer also started as a 9″x13″ cake which was cut into the shape needed. As for most of my shaped cakes I started with a paper template scaled to the proper size on my computer.

The template serves two purposes. First I used it to trace out fondant pieces for the eyes, brows and beak. As I didn’t want to cut into the template I used a straight pin (that I keep for food use only) to pierce the shapes’ outlines into rolled fondant. The resulted dotted line is easy to cut out with a knife or fondant cutter and the individual pieces can be attached to each other with a bit of water or fondant glue. The eyebrows and pupils were cut from pre-tinted black fondant, the beak was cut from white fondant tinted yellow with icing gels, and the eyes were cut from white fondant later outlined with a black food marker. Before putting away my fondant supplies I also cut out the birthday boy’s name from red-tinted fondant with alphabet-shaped cookie cutters.

Then I used the same paper template on top of the cooled cake and cut around it to cut the cake itself to the proper shape. (You can do these steps in the reverse order but sometimes cake will stick to the underside of the paper and that can discolor your fondant. Another option is to trace the cake shape onto wax paper or parchment paper which won’t stick as easily)

The second cake was then iced with red and white icing to match Red’s proportions and finally the fondant topper was added.

The fondant pieces give the cake a polished look while requiring minimal shaping or sculpting ability, making this a great way for beginners to try out fondant for the first time.

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DIY Twisted Sister Album Replica

Today I’m going to share the steps I took to create a prop replica of this Twisted Sister record album for a Becket stage show a few years ago:

We had done a skit routine to the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” which was released 38 years ago today, on April 27th 1984. In addition to the skit requirements of tossing the record album around, in general props are often flung out of the way during quick set changes, and we didn’t want to take a chance on damaging an actual record, even if we’d owned one. Therefore I decided to make this stage-safe replica that I could easily re-make in case of damage or loss.

The basis of the record is a piece of stiff cardboard cut to size. Standard record albums are 7″, 10″ and 12″. Unfortunately the best piece of cardboard I had was only 11″ wide but since no one would be able to tell from the audience so I cut it into a square to use. The key was cardboard that would be thick enough to not bend or warp during the multiple rehearsals and performances. If your cardboard is too thin you can layer a few sheets together with glue.

To replicate the “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” album, my next step was to paint the entire surface with black acrylic paint. I will be demonstrating the steps for this specific album but the same principles can be followed to recreate any required prop for theater or costume use. You can even copy your favorite albums for wall decor!

Many of my projects involve using templates and this one is no different! Once I’d chosen my cardboard I printed a copy of the record album to the appropriate scale.

Then I used the graphite trick of scribbling along the back of my image in order to transfer the design. These days I use carbon paper as I find it faster and easier, but pencils work well too.

With the back of the image covered in graphite (or with carbon paper underneath), I placed it into the correct spot and traced over all the lines. A stylus works great for this but you can just as easily use a pencil or ballpoint pen.

It’s hard to see the transferred image. I did play with the contrast to try and show it but it’s pretty faint.

Using the original album cover art for reference, I colored in the image with metallic markers and added highlights with a Derwent Drawing white pencil.

I used the same transfer method to add the album title…

…though this time I pushed a bit harder into the cardboard to give my marker ink borders. This can help contain a bit of the ink flow, if your markers are very runny. If you don’t have markers in the proper colors you can paint your album cover instead.

I had a close-enough color in my metallic markers so I used that for the band name and smaller lettering.

That’s it!

The final touch was a few coats of sealant for protection and then the album cover replica was complete!

This was a super easy and fast DIY that looks incredibly effective on stage, and because it was only cardboard and markers I didn’t have to add to our prop budget nor worry if it took some abuse and I had to remake it. That said, it was surprisingly sturdy and held up great through every rehearsal and all performances.

You can easily use the same steps to recreate any album for your own prop needs.

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