Friday, 27 September 2013

Tutorial: Gumpaste Baby Converse Sneakers

Reposted from my previous blog, Chronic Masterbakers:

The Most Adorable Baby Converse Sneakers in the World!

These l’il guys are small enough to fit both in the palm of your hand
The creation of these adorable little sneakers was a challenge I was both enthusiastic to attempt for the first time, but also slightly dreaded, since I wasn't sure how they were going to turn out.

All in all, they were not as challenging as I was concerned they would be, but, to be fair, it took doing them a couple of times to get them as perfect as I could (you’re looking at set #2, ahem…).  To that end, I thought that it might be useful to teach you, my readers, how to make these adorable little converse sneakers for yourselves.

So….let’s get started, shall we?
I found a semi-useful template online for cutting out the pieces you need; however, I discovered during the swear-filled creation of my first attempt that the templates were a little off (somewhat like myself...but I digress). So, I recreated and recut the templates to better fit the second attempt. 

Note: at the bottom of this post is the corrected template for your use; all you have to do is decide the size you want (default is the size I made the shoes with), then print out the template.  I recommend you use a nice, sturdy piece of cardboard (like the cardboard from the back of a pad of paper) for the templates; paper is a little too flimsy to get the most accurate cut. Also, if you plan on making more than one set of these cute l'il guys, cover both sides of your template with clear masking tape to keep them from getting damaged.

Step 1: Prep your area. 
You will need a cutting mat, x-acto knife and/or small rolling cutter, #1 or #2 plain piping tip, shaker container of cornstarch (NOT powdered sugar), small amount of vegetable shortening, small fondant rolling pin, tiny amount of slightly thinned clear piping gel (this is your glue) and a small pointed-end paintbrush, clean damp washcloth, clean dry kitchen towel, paper towel and/or plastic wrap, and a stitching tool.
Make and cut out your templates.
Step 2: Prep your gumpaste.
We actually recommend that you use what is called “50/50″ in the industry, which is a roughly equal amount of gumpaste and fondant.  The reason for this?  Gumpaste is an excellent medium for making figures and other ornaments that you wish to dry to hardness, but it’s stiff to work with and can be quite fragile.  Fondant has the pliability and softness that makes working a mound of it so pleasant, but it takes a long time to dry (it can take days), and its very softness and pliability is a disadvantage in trying to keep your piece’s shape while drying…especially in a humid environment. Hence, mix equal proportions together and you get the best of both worlds…at least in our experience!
At this point, you want to make enough 50/50 to have enough for your white pieces and your coloured pieces.  Make sure it your pieces are separated and well-wrapped in air-tight coverings while you are rolling and cutting out your pieces, as 50/50 dries quickly.  We recommend plastic wrap, ‘press n seal’, or a ziploc bag.  If your 50/50 does start to dry out too quickly, you can “rejuvenate” it by re-working it in your hands, using a little bit of vegetable shortening.  However, be sure to pick out and discard any hard clumps, as this can ruin your rolled pieces. If your 50/50 gets too soft to work with, usually from the heat of your hands, you can add a little bit of corn starch. BEWARE! If you add too much, you can’t *just* add more shortening until you get it right. After the second time of fixing it, you’re better off just to start with a new hunk of 50/50. 
Step 3: Start your engines!
Lightly dust your working surface with cornstarch and roll out a portion of white 50/50 to approximately 1/8″ thickness; cut out two baby shoe soles (make sure one is reversed from the other) and place to the side. 
Cover your remaining white 50/50 and start work on the coloured portion.  Roll and cut out the front toe pieces.  Gently attach the toe pieces to the front of your soles, using the piping gel as glue. Use paper towel and/or plastic wrap to gently support the curve in the toe and the tongue.
Cut out the back of the shoe, pattern the edges with the stitching tool, add the holes with the piping tip, and glue into place. there should be a small overlap between the back and front pieces.  Repeat.

Roll and cut out the half-moons from the white 50/50.  Gently pattern the pieces with a vertical stripe using a thin, dull bladed implement or your rolling cutter (be careful not to cut through).  Attach to the toes of your shoes with piping gel.
Roll and cut the longest strip out of the white 50/50; pattern along the edges with the stitching tool and glue into place around the back of the sneaker, meeting up to slightly overlap the white toe piece. Repeat.
Roll and cut the medium-sized strip out of the white 50/50; pattern along with edges with the stitching tool and glue into place around the front of the sneaker, meeting up to slightly overlap the back strip.  Cut if necessary to fit properly.  Repeat. Cut out the circles and paint/draw the stars with the appropriate colour.  Put aside and let dry.
Now for the laces: thinly roll out some white 50/50; cut long, thin lines for the laces.  You have the option to make flat or rolled laces for the sneakers; we went with rolled. 
Eyeball the length you will need for the inside “criss-cross” on the tongue; cut and affix with a small amount of gumpaste.  Gently swab the inside of the eyelet holes with gumpaste and repeat the process for the outside laces.  Lace as per your preference.
Almost there!  All that’s left:
1) Make two tiny bows for the front of the laces (optional).
2) Pattern the tongue with lines and dots (your choice).
3) Roll, cut, stitch, and affix the shortest strip (from coloured 50/50) vertically along the “back seam” on the heel of the shoe, gathering to a loop at the top.
4) Affix the star circles to each shoe (be sure to glue them to the “outside” of each shoe, away from the inner curve!).
5) Make a small, thin snake of coloured 50/50 and affix around the toe of the shoe.
6) Draw the classic converse blue line along the base of the shoe.
And there you have it! 
The total time it took me to complete my second go-round with these shoes was about 3 hours.

Below is a copy of the template I used to make the shoes. I’d LOVE to hear if anyone else has tried these shoes, and how they worked out for you.  Pictures would be AWESOME too!  Good luck!!!

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