Award-winning artist, Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ From the Oven shares this adorable tutorial for a cute zombie ballerina. This spooky topper would be the perfect adornment to a Halloween cake.
- 8” cake dummy (as small as 7”)
- 18-gauage florist wire (white)
- 1x wooden BBQ skewer
- Florist tape (preferably white)
- 200g White modelling chocolate: colored with Holly Green ProGel (Or similar)
- 42g White modelling chocolate: colored with Pink ProGel (Or similar)
- 45g Dark modelling chocolate: colored with Black ProGel
- * Disposable gloves (if possible)
- 9g Satin Ice gumpaste – white
- 50g Satin Ice gumpaste – colored grey
- Styrofoam Ball
- 2x toothpicks
- Edible dust: red, dark green (ivy) and white
- Vodka (or similar for painting)
- Ball tool – large
- Wire cutters
- Blade/Xacto knife
- Silicone cone tipped modelling tool
- Silicone angled tip modelling tool
- 000 fine paintbrush
- Small fluffy paintbrush for dusting
- Small palette for mixing colors.
Creating the Tombstone
Color 50g of your Satin Ice white gumpaste with a bit of your black to make a medium grey shade. Roll it out to around 1/4” thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut out the shape of a tombstone – any style you like! Insert two toothpicks about halfway into the base of your tombstone. Be careful that they don’t pierce the surface of either side of your tombstone. Set it aside and leave it to harden while you’re creating the zombie.
Making the Eyeballs
Before you get started on your zombie girl it’s a good idea to roll out your eyeballs and allow them to harden before you actually need them. Use a small amount (around 9g) of white Satin Ice gumpaste and roll out two evenly-sized balls to around 1/2 of an inch in diameter. Set them aside to harden while you work on the next step.
Creating the Structure
Now you’ll need to get the wooden skewer, florist wire, florist tape and wire cutters ready. Using the cutters cut the blunt side of your skewer down to 6.5” long. Take care that pieces don’t go flying and hold both sides of the skewer when you snip it.
Next following the diagram as a guide, you can use the wire cutters to bend your florist wire at 3-inches, at a 45 degree angle, for her shoulder blade. And then again one 1/2-inch farther up for her extending arm. You can snip off the excess wire then at 3.25” from the last bend.
Once the wire has been bent correctly you can then take a piece of florist tape, extend it to activate it and wrap the skewer and wire together. Be sure to leave 1.75 inches free on the blunt (top) side of your skewer. This is where her head will be secured.
Coloring and Skewering
Using the 200g of white modelling chocolate. Knead in a small amount of Holly green to give her the good and unhealthy complexion of a zombie. Once the consistency is smooth and there’s no more streaks seen, you can cut off 1/4 to keep for later to use for her arms etc.
Squeeze your styrofoam ball onto the blunt end of your skewer. Be careful to only insert it halfway onto it and to not pop the skewer the whole way through.
Using the larger of your 2 lumps of green modelling chocolate – you can now roll it into a large ball. Push the green modelling chocolate onto the styrofoam ball at the lower back of her head. Keep in mind that this is where her neck will be while placing the ball. Once the ball is secured inside the head – but still slightly visible, you can then remove it to work on her facial features.
Corinna notes: Keep tabs on the styrofoam ball inside your zombie throughout the process to make sure it hasn’t sunk inside! You’ll need to find it later when reapplying it to the skewer! I often keep a smaller skewer in so that I can find the space later
Shaping the head
Using your hand at an angle, slightly flatten down one side of your ball to turn this into the ‘chin’.
Make an indent with side of your hand 1/3 the way up from the slightly squashed side. Rotate your hand from one side of the ball to the other. This will pop out the ‘cheeks’ and ‘forehead’ of your zombie.
With your thumbs, you can make deeper indentations for the eye sockets.
- Pinch and push the nose out using your thumbs. Your silicone modelling tools can come in handy for this part also.
Modelling the Face
Roll your silicone modelling tool up the base of her nose to extend it out and smooth it up into shape.
Using your large ball tool push and roll 2 eye sockets for your zombie. You want these to be slightly larger than the eyeballs that we made previously. Using your thumb smooth out any hard edges that you might have created.
Next you’ll need to push up a chin for your zombie girl. Maneuver the modelling chocolate from where her neck would be, forward until a chin emerges.
- Time to give her a mouth to be able to eat some brains! This particular zombie has a very cute and small mouth. Halfway between her chin and nose cut a small line, just slightly wider than her nose. With your blade in her mouth pull up and out on the roof of her mouth slightly to pull this section of her face forward.
Zombie Lips and Nose
Gently smooth back the top edge of her upper lip, that you’ve just pulled out, with your finger. You’ll instantly have a top lip now! If it needs extra shaping at this point you can use your silicone tools to get it right.
Using a small pointed tipped tool make two indentations for nostrils. Remember to keep these against her face and not floating in the middle of her nose.
Now is as good a time as any to give some shape to her jaw. You can rub up her cheekbones and run your thumb across her jawline to give it more definition.
Using a soft tipped tool you can create the dent from her nose to the top edge of her upper lip. (Tidbit for you… It’s actually called a ‘philtrum’! Thank you Google.)
Widen her mouth a bit so that there’s room to work inside of her mouth. Then using the side of a round soft edged silicon tool make soft indentations coming down from the side nose to the side of her mouth. If a harsh line was make you can soften this out with your finger.
Roll out a thin piece of white modelling paste and cut a straight edged strip out of it. Curl this piece into a ‘c’ shape and place inside the base of the mouth.
For her bottom lip, roll out a small sausage, of the green modelling chocolate, a little wider than her mouth. Roll and taper the edges to a point. Attach each point to the corners of her mouth and secure the lip in place by ROLLING your silicone tool over the seam. You may need a little bit of water to attach this piece and to blend the seam away. At this stage if you find that her chin has disappeared you can place a small ball of green modelling chocolate to build it up and again blend the seam away like you did previously.
- Now you’re able to pop the eyeballs into their sockets. If you need any help with securing them, you can brush a tiny bit of water into the sockets to help stick them on. If your eyeballs are hard enough at this point you can push them in a little farther to create the sunken eyes. Be sure to smooth out any edges around the eyes on the green when you push them in.
Step 9 Getting dressed
Color your 42 grams of white modelling chocolate with a bit of pink. Roll it out into a sausage and cut off 1/4 of it to save for the tutu part of her dress.
Roll the larger section between your fingers in the centre to give a little bit of a waist to her torso.
Place down and shape her chest and the edges of her tutu top.
From the top of her outfit, slide the torso onto the skewer. You will probably have to rework the shoulder around the wire and reshape her body at this point. Insert this into the cake dummy at around a 60 degree angle. This will be the angle that she’s emerging from the grave. Keep in mind that you want to still be able to see her torso and face too – so don’t put it at too much of an angle!
Place a cone shaped piece of green down the top of the skewer and work into place on her collar as her chest and neck. Scrape any excess off and taper the neck up the skewer.
- You can now place the head, using the styrofoam ball, onto the skewer. If you find that it’s not secure and a bit wobbly, you can place a small sausage of modelling chocolate into the hole of the ball and that will help to hold the skewer in place.
Give her a hand! (and an arm)
Bend the ‘arm wire’ slightly in half. This will be the natural bend in her arm. Then roll out a sausage of green and slide the wire through it. Smooth the contact with her dress. Concentrating on the armpit, elbow, wrist and bicep. Modelling a hand on the wire is difficult – so it’s easier to cut this spare green modelling chocolate off and working on the board instead.
Now for her hand (don’t worry – she’ll only have one). Roll a ball of modelling chocolate out and slightly flatten it down. Cut out a thin triangular section out of one corner – this will section the thumb from the rest of the hand.
Make a simple hand by gently rolling the thumb back and forth and then making indentations for each finger.
- Repeat with a second arm – but this time using a toothpick to support the shape. No hand this time!
Tutu-time! Roll out your remaining pink modelling chocolate into a long thin strip. Cut straight edges on the long sides of it. Pleat the entire strip. Flaws and irregularities at this stage work great for it! So don’t fix them. With a tiny bit of water painted around her waist, you can attach her skirt and hide the seam.
Next to channel your inner hairdresser and give the girl some curls. Cover the majority of her head with thinly rolled out panels of black modelling chocolate. Then roll out sausages tapered to a point with more of the black again and twist them into curls. Go crazy giving her a nice hairstyle or some ponytails like I’ve done.
Keep in mind how much you’re putting on though as too much weight on her head will tilt it back.
Now to make her zoned out eyes. Take 2 tiny bits of black modelling chocolate and attach them to the centres of her eyes. Using a dry dusting brush and some dark ivy petal dust, dust along the join between the white and the green of her eye sockets to give some depth to her eyes. Start with less and build it up. Less is more sometimes! Using a thin brush and some red dust with vodka you can add veins in her eyes and paint in her lips if you’d like too.
Step 12 The end is near…
One of the last things to be done now is to finish off your gravestone, which should be hardened by now. Mix a little white dust with a tiny amount of vodka – once you have a thick enough consistency you can paint in her name. Once this is dry you can stick the gravestone into the cake dummy in behind your zombie ballerina. In my sample piece I’ve named her Myra Mains (get it?).
Step 13 Diggin the dirt
Finally! All you need is a bit of dirt. Of course the real stuff wouldn’t be suitable for a cake. Instead, a tasty version is simply a handful of oreos (the new chocolate ones work best) in a ziplock bag. Then all you need is a rolling pin and some pent-up aggression to smash them to dust.
Paint a little bit of piping gel on your covered dummy in the area you want the grave to be. And stick the oreo dirt crumbs on to make it look as though she’s emerging from her grave! Be sure to cover up any bits that you need to – like her hand touching the ground that isn’t detailed.
Here’s some more examples of names for you to choose from:
Bea A. Fraid
Creek E. Bones
Lovin’ from the Oven
Corinna Maguire, originally from Alberta, Canada, is an award winning cake decorator based in Galway on the West coast of Ireland. After making a friend’s wedding cake 8 years ago, the addiction with cakes began and she started LovinfromtheOven.ie . With each cake she kept pushing her limits in collaborations and competitions and has won multiple Gold and Best in Class awards both in Ireland and internationally. She is now writing a blog, teaching cake decorating classes locally and internationally and lovin’ it all!