Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Shoes

These two sweeties are all dressed up with nowhere to go.  These gumpaste stilettos were to be two of 3 individual shoes featured on a cake that I was going to make for a local competition at the end of June.  However, that competition got canceled and rescheduled for September 12.  I don't think I'll be able to save them for that long-- although I don't expect anyone to actually eat them, they're kind of delicate. 

So please, my wonderful readers, enjoy their stories.

 The shoe on the right you should recognize from my previous post.  It's just been dressed up a little. :)



To my knowledge, I haven't seen anyone else use stringwork on a gumpaste shoe.  Each little string was hand piped in black royal icing using a PME tip 1.   For more information on stringwork, you should really check out the fabulous tutorials being posted at Mel's Cake Walk.

Some specific notes on this-- I used royal icing made from pasteurized egg whites instead of meringue powder.  This makes the icing easier to work with and it dries stronger.  I also used the PME tip rather than a Wilton tip.  I recently invested in a set of 20 PME tips.  I bought these for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that they are seamless, which means your icing is less likely to kink while you're stringing.  Additionally, the set comes with round tips 0 and a tip 00, and a tip 1.5, none of which are available in the Wilton line.  

FYI, I own the Wilton Master Tip Set which is generally great, and I've bought several other individual tips and acquired yet others from class kits.  

After piping the strings, I added little dragee accents at the points.
Finally I added my own little signature label:

Now let's talk about the other shoe, which is legitimately a stiletto heel:

I made the heel by cutting out tip 12 circles from 1/8" gumpaste and carefully stacking them over a skewer.  I then custom molded a top piece to fade between the sole and the skinny heel.  For the back of the shoe, I made myself a cardboard pattern and cut it out from both white and black gumpaste and added some stitching in the white layer.  I attached it to the dry sole using tylo glue.

I did something similar for the toe piece, which you can see drying supported by paper towel.  I keep the shoes sitting on that green foam so that the bottoms still get air exposure.  

The floating ankle strap was challenging to attach-- it takes the tylo glue a little while before it firms up.  Once it did, I supported the strap with paper towels.  You can see the stitching and little holes in the floating strap, as well as a gumpaste buckle.  

The inside of this shoe was painted with white sparkle luster dust to make it look more like satin.

To give the shoe a really classy look, I added silver highlighter and 2 mm silver dragees to the buckle as though it were covered in crystals.

Lastly, I added a signature label.

You can't have couture without a label, right? :)

It's a shame that the show got canceled, but I've learned a lot making these shoes.  First lesson-- go after every last little detail.  Even in looking at how the pictures progress, every time I added a detail, it took the work to a new level.  I also developed some useful patterns that I can use in the future, as well some techniques for heel construction and even incorporating stringwork.

I don't know yet if I'll use my same design concept for the show in September... we'll see. :)


  1. Roxanne, I LOVE these shoes. I am especially blown away by your idea of using stringwork on the shoes! Great idea!! The gum paste shoes should keep for a while so...I suggest you keep them for an upcoming competition. I'm actually helping plan one in Ocala, FL for March 27, 2011. It'll be called the Florida ICED Cake Competition so keep an eye out for it (the website's not up yet). But one portion of the competition will be "wedding accessories" like shoes, etc!

  2. Wow Roxanne!
    Dad says, Awesome.
    Uncle Rudy said, "Well Dang!"
    We're all pretty speechless....
    And staying tuned.
    xx Mom

  3. Hey, Roxanne! Never have I seen mechanical engineering studies put to better use! I'm in the process of retiring from linguistics to decorate cakes, so I get how this is a great complement to academia, but you're the goods, girl! What talent!! My granddaughter wants a "diva" cake for her eighth birthday in August (zebra stripe on hot pink with a purse, shoes, pearls, make-up, a cell phone, an ipod ... you name it). I was only really worried about the shoe, but you've given me the inspiration to give it a try! Thanks for the photos and explanation. I'm a fan for life.

  4. Awww, thanks so much Marianna! :) Also, a while back I did a MUCH simpler shoe (not nearly as nice, but still fun)-- you can see it in my January entries-- I did the whole thing within a couple of hours and painted it, unlike these which I did over the course of a couple of weeks... Good luck with the cake! Can't wait to see pictures. :)

  5. Hello Roxanne,

    I found you through CakeCentral and your Defying Gravity cake. You're doing a fabulous job and I especially appreciate you sharing your techniques and advice. I say, find a nice container for the shoes and save them for the next competition! Maybe add one "hooker" red. ;-) Thanks again and many blessings on your endeavors.

  6. Thank you, Natalia! :) I've put them away in the bottom of my china cabinet, still looking for another competition opportunity. Funny you should mention making a 3rd one, because in my original concept there were 3-- they were going to be walking up the tiers of the cake. I might need to do a red shoe in general, now that you mention it... ;)

  7. Your work is absolutely beautiful! Perfect string work! Thanks for sharing !

  8. Wow! Your shoes are stunning!!! love the stringwork, very clever!!! Im so glad I saw this. I hope you don't mind me copying your ideas. thanks a bunch for sharing!

  9. Roxanna, I think you are great. Is it possible for you to make tutorial DVDs. I would definate be the first to buy one.

  10. You're work is amazing. I just got the email from Nicholas Lodge about the class featuring your work. I cannot get to Atlanta with just a few days notice. Please advise if you are having any other classes in the future. thanks.

  11. Thank you for this wonderful tuto
    i love your shoes
    they are perfect
    Thank's from France

  12. Hi Very nice work.
    Where can I find the template so I can try it too?

  13. Hi Anonymous, if you email me I sell my templates/ instructions. :)

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