Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anatomy of a Penguin

Haul Out the Holly,Gwenny Penny,Christmas tutorials

Welcome to the post where I show you how to make this cute fondant penguin!  I've made these little guys a couple times before for cupcake toppers at penguin-themed birthday parties and when Gwen asked me if I'd like to participate in Haul Out the Holly I thought this would make the perfect tutorial to share with you.  What could be more festive than adorning your holiday treats with fondant penguins?  

Before we begin, a little bit about working with fondant:
I buy my fondant pre-made from the craft store (Michaels or JoAnn's).  There are recipes for homemade, but I think it's downright affordable at $8 for the box in the picture - and even less if you've got one of their 40% off coupons.

Here are two great resources for coloring fondant if you're a first-timer and need some direction: Wilton's brief tutorial or this handy YouTube video.

During the penguin-making process, keep the balls of fondant that you're not currently using in a container with a lid or a plastic baggie to keep them from drying out.  

To reinvigorate slightly dry fondant, smear some Crisco on your hands and knead it into the fondant until it's a pliable, workable consistency. 

I store my leftover colored fondant (each color in a separate plastic sandwich bag) in plastic Tupperware containers in the pantry.  They last for about a month before they get totally dried out.  I wrap the unused portion of the brick of fondant in a plastic Ziploc bag, inside it's original box and it keeps for a really long time.  The end might get kind of dried out, but you just chop it off and the rest is fine.

Fondant critters can keep for a couple of weeks in a container with a lid in a cool, dry place. 

Alright.  Let's make a penguin!

Phase 1:  The Body

1.  Roll some black fondant into about a 1/2" ball.
2.  Shape the ball into an oval or jellybean shape.

3.  Elongate one end of the oval by gently pinching and rolling it between thumb and forefinger.
4.  Gently tamp it down on the work surface to make the base flat and even.  The end result should be a shape somewhere between a bowling pin and an egg.

Phase 2:  The Tummy

1.  Roll out a small piece of white fondant pretty darn thin.
2.  Use the 1/2" circle cutter to make one circle of fondant.
3.  Cut the circle in half.
4.  Form one of the half-circles into kind of a horse shoe shape.
(You could skip the circle cutter and just freehand it, whatever gets your goat.)

Use a damp paintbrush to apply water to the tummy piece and place it on the black body.  Use just a tiny bit of water; dipping your paintbrush in the water and then dabbing it on a paper towel or napkin works to remove excess water. 

Phase 3:  The Wings...or are They Flippers?

1.  Start by making two pea-sized balls and rolling them into little Tic Tac shapes.
2.  Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch one end to flatten it while using your other hand to shape the unpinched end into a point.  This should make a nice teardrop shaped wing.
3.  If the teardrop shape has become too big for the body, simply use the paring knife to chop off its tip and reshape it. 
4.  The end result should be two stubby teardrop shapes that'll make perfect fondant flippers!

Use a damp paintbrush to apply a tiny bit of water to the tip of the wing.  Press it gently into place on the penguin's body.

Phase 4:  The Feet

1.  Roll out a small amount of orange fondant to maybe 1/8" thick (maybe thicker if the final product is going to be slightly submerged in frosting).  Cut out a 1/2" circle.
2.  Cut about 1/3 of the circle off.
3.  Cut the third in half to make two triangular shapes.
4.  Pinch the triangles a bit to shape them.
5.  Now there should be two wedge shapes (thicker triangles, basically) that will be the feet.
6.  Use the paintbrush handle as a rolling pin to flatten the top point of each triangle.  Place the two triangles side by side, almost touching and apply a tiny bit of water to the flattened portions.

Place the penguin's body on top of the flattened portions of the feet and press down gently.  I've shown you what the feet should look like from a couple different angles.  If desired, use the dull side of the paring knife to score little marks on the feet to give them the appearance of being webbed.

Phase 5:  The Eyes

This is pretty simple.  Use a sharpened pencil to make eye marks.  If you want the eyes larger, just wiggle the pencil ever so gently from side to side and then up and down in the fondant.  There.  Now you've given your penguin the gift of sight.

Phase 6:  The Beak

1.  Make a super-tiny ball of orange fondant.  A good way to measure it is to make a pea-sized ball and cut it into quarters. Use one quarter of it to make a tiny cone shape. 
2.  Use the pencil to make an indentation wide enough for the base of the beak to fit into.
3.  Use a damp toothpick to dampen the hole and carefully put the beak into place.  It can be reshaped a little - either with your fingertips or the dull edge of the knife - once it's securely in its hole.

Let the whole thing dry overnight so none of the anatomy falls off while you're adding accessories.  I usually put him on a piece of wax paper on a plate on top of the fridge, far out of the reach of curious passersby.

Phase 7:  The Hat

1.  Roll a small ball of fondant from whatever color you wish.  The ball should be about 1/3".
2.  Use your thumb and forefinger to make one end slightly pointed and the base flat, kind of like an egg shape.
3.  Use the eraser end of a pencil to make an indentation in/hollow out part of the base.  Make the indent large enough to fit on the penguin's rounded head by pushing out the sides of the indent with the pencil eraser.

Apply a small amount of water to the indent and place it on the penguin's head, gently pushing the fondant down around where his ears might be (you don't want him to get an earache from that frigid Antarctic wind).  Let it dry for about 5 minutes.

1.  Use the dull edge of the paring knife to score little lines around the edge of the hat.
2.  Use the eraser end of the pencil to flatten the very tip of the hat, making an area just large enough for a ball to sit on.
3.  Make a tiny ball of fondant and attach it to the tip of the hat using a damp paint brush.  Let dry for about 5 minutes.
4.  Use the sharpened end of the pencil to poke the ball and give it some texture - like the pompom on top of a cute stocking cap.  You may have to use your fingers to hold the ball in place and kind of reshape it if it becomes deformed while you poke.

And there he is, Folks.  A fully accessorized fondant penguin ready to make your holiday treats merry and bright!  You can return him to his home on top of the fridge for about 24 hours to dry completely and then he's pretty darn sturdy. 

Have fun experimenting with different accessories for these little guys!  Here are a couple of ideas from penguins I've made in the past (click on the photos to be transported to the original posts).  You can use them to decorate cakes or cupcakes or whatever the heck else you want!

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  1. These are so flipping adorable, Megan! I've always loved your little penguins, and I'm so happy you put together a great tutorial on how to make them. Thanks so much for being a part of Haul Out the Holly :)

  2. Darling - they look surprisingly simple to make.

  3. These are absolutely adorable!!! I would love for you to submit this to the Make and Takes spotlight page. The M+T readers will go nuts! :)

  4. So sweet and festive! I have been so afraid to try fondant, but you have made it look so approachable! My daughter will love these, she is a penguin in the school Christmas Choir. Have a great weekend!

  5. Cute, cute, cute! I always enjoy seeing your little penguins :)

  6. Your penguins are so cute! I especially love the belly-sliding one! So creative :)

  7. I love your penguins. I have penguins all over my house during Christmas. We would love for you to link up with us this Tuesday! Carfty Lassie Tuesday.



  8. Oh my gosh! These are absolutely adorable!

  9. Wow!! I have never used fondant before. This really makes me want to go out and buy some. Thank you for the tutorial.

    P.S. I have a giveaway going on. Come over and check it out.
    P.S.S. I have a linky every Monday would love you to stop by Monday and link up.

  10. This is so adorable! It was the top viewed link at So Very Creative this week. Make sure to stop by and grab a button. Congratulations!

  11. Just love how cute these are - totally want to do a South Pole themed dessert now! I've featured them over at this week's Craftastic Monday - Thanks for linking up!

  12. Oh my goodness...these little guys are darling!

    I'm spotlighting your post on my Facebook page today!

    Thank you so much for sharing your creativity and talent on "A Little Birdie Told Me..." Tuesday at Rook No. 17!

    Friends who link-up to tomorrow’s party will have a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Hodgson Mill, so please feel free to stop by and join in the fun & inspiration!

    Warmest wishes,

  13. Too cute! I like the ones diving head first into frosting best!

    -caroline @ c.w.frosting

  14. You make it look so easy. I wonder what I would come up with. I am a messy baker ;)


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