How to Make an Armature
Written by Nola Cordell, VIC
Have you ever wanted to make a horse or any other animal that will stand alone?
• Find an ornament that you would love to replicate in icing. This will assist you with size and scale. Don’t expect your model to be EXACTLY like the ornament – remember it is only there as a guide for you. Your model will look good in its own right and be original.
• Have the ornament in front of you the whole time you are modelling. This will be your guide and inspiration.
• Firstly, the animal will require a ‘skeleton’ officially known as an armature.
This need not be elaborate as you will see with this very basic armature I made to construct the horse pictured.
For this, you will need armature wire. This is available at craft supplies stores, such as Riot Art and Craft. It is a thick wire which comes in different gauges and although strong, it does bend quite easily. I used this for the main backbone of the horse extending it to include the tail and head and the horse’s legs. I measured the horse but used a length of wire longer than needed so that I could insert the legs into the display board for support. (You will need to drill small holes in the board to support each leg.)
I then measured around the body of the ornament and used wire that I usually use to make flowers and formed circles (ribs). I put a small polystyrene egg shaped piece inside the rib cage to fill it out a little while still keeping it light.
As I didn’t have any form of welding or soldering materials, I just used Stemtex to join the ribs to the backbone. Very, very basic but it worked!
I then wrapped the ‘skeleton’ with cotton bandage and sewed it in place. I poured a sugar syrup over it and allowed it to dry. This then became a firm basis to build upon with gum paste.
After initially covering the body with gum paste, add gum paste a little at a time to create muscles and the correct shape. You can also wet your hands to mold it into the desired shape.
Add gum paste to each leg and hand mould into shape using your ornament as your guide.
The head can be constructed freehand or you may use a mould. The mane and tail are added freehand.
When you are satisfied with your shape, lightly sand it smooth.
As a finishing touch, if you wish, an option is to paint it with a very thin mix of royal icing.
It DOES take time and patience, but the end result is an achievement and very worthwhile.
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