by Sharon Wee

I don’t do cake orders anymore since the teaching side of the business took off about two years ago. All the travelling didn’t really go well with having to meet clients and deliveries and all the rest so I made the hard decision to stop taking orders. People ask me if I miss making cakes for clients and the truth is sometimes I don’t (when I remember the difficult clients) and sometimes I really do (when I remember all the fun and cool things they let me make).

When friends and family do ask me to make something cool, I am always super excited to head back to the studio to create organically. It’s a different feeling, to be able to create without stopping every single step of the way to take pictures and notes (for a book or tutorial), redoing each step to make sure it’s really the best way to do it or having to measure and weigh out everything I used so that students in a class can recreate it over and over again.

When you are able to create without the above ‘boundaries’, sometimes magic happens and other times disaster happens. Disaster, because usually, there hasn’t been enough thought and planning. I sometimes find that I just jump right into a project and decide to ‘wing it’.

Last month, while Miso Bakes was in town, I brought her to my favourite cafe, Devon Cafe, where we found ourselves trying out their Blue Pea Flower Soft Serve Sundae (which was delicious by the way!). Just before we left, I headed to the toilet and came out to find myself with a cake order. Wait, what? How did that happen? Miso somehow used the two minutes while I was in the toilet to start to talk to one of the ladies about cakes and what we do. And so begins the fun of Mr. Rex – the t-rex cake.

I was super excited to do this order because Nick loves dinosaurs and I think the t-rex is cool in a structural way. The request was simple – it needs to be a cutesy kind of t-rex. Done!

While I was googling pictures, I realised that the poor t-rex is the butt of many jokes. HeeHee and I loved them all :).

t-rex toilet
Source of image here.
T-rex love
Source of image here.

So I started this cake organically, with not much of a plan other than it needs to stand up on one leg and have the other leg pushed back. I really did not want to be custom cutting any wood bases for the structure because:

1. I was being lazy and didn’t like the mess and noise that comes with using a mechanical tool to cut wood.

2. I’m pretty sure the little cutting tool that attaches to the hand held cutter is broken.

So I debated and researched for a few days about what I could possibly use. Finally I thought about an oval shaped piece of wood for the base of the cake. Surely these are easy to find at art stores right? But what I stumbled across was even better! A shape that feels like it was almost made for this project…

The baseboard was custom cut at Bunnings (hardware store) and the cake board was actually in the craft section and sold as a house number plaque.
The baseboard was custom cut at Bunnings (hardware store) and the cake board was actually in the craft section and sold as a house number plaque.

The cake board shape was perfect because the t-rex tapers in at the front for the chest and at the back for the tail. And so, he starts coming to life. His whole body was cake and because it only needed to feed a small amount of people, the head was styrofoam.

Vanilla butter cake with raspberry white chocolate ganache.
Vanilla butter cake with raspberry white chocolate ganache.
First coat of ganache.
First coat of ganache.

At this stage I was slightly regretting my decision to use that pre-bought cake board shape because something just didn’t look right. It looked like a whale with a tail and some legs. Hmm… But I continued, thinking that once it’s been ganached properly, it might start to look right.

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But still it didn’t seem quite right. It was then that I went back to good old google and just searched for t-rex pictures. After studying some of them I realised what was wrong – the tail angle was not in line with the body position. It seems weird that something as simple as moving the tail can fix it but it totally did.

See? Now the tail will be in line with the angle of the head.
See? Now the tail will be in line with the angle of the head and it does not look like a whale anymore.

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So then the head gets carved from two different sized styrofoam balls and after lots of shaving and mess, Mr. Rex is ready for his head and to come to life!

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Fondant is used to smooth out the joins between both round shapes.
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The best part about covering a dinosaur in fondant? You can’t really stuff it up! The skin is supposed to be textured and wrinkly anyways 🙂
He's got his skin!
He’s got his skin! Which was textured with a mix of a stiff brush and rolling pin.

If you want to know more about texturing and colouring a 3D dinosaur, you can check out my Mr. Steggles tutorial I have for sale in my store. There are lots of step by step photos, templates, and a cake recipe too.

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So once Mr. Rex was all set up, it was time for him to get his colour on. Usually with a cake that size I usually try and airbrush it outside since the fine mist of colour gets EVERYWHERE. I swear, you can be wiping a surface on the other side of the house months later and you will still see the colour. There was a time we thought our shelves were growing mouldy since every time we wiped, the cloth turned green. And then I remembered I had airbrushed a whole bunch of leaves a month before…

But it was dark and raining… so I had to make do with doing it inside with a makeshift airbrush booth.

I'm not sure if it actually helped to contain the mist, but it made me feel better :P
I’m not sure if it actually helped to contain the mist, but it made me feel better 😛
The first coat of colour...
The first coat of colour…
The second coat...
The second coat… all the textures start to show up.
The third coat ... Giving him some stripes and shading
The third coat … Giving him some stripes and shading
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Then it was time for him to dry out and get vision!

All he needed after this was some soil, a minion (as requested by the client) and he was all done. I was extra excited about this minion because I’ve never ever made one. No one has ever asked so he was my very first 🙂 Yippie!

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If you are new to airbrushing or would just like to improve your airbrush skills/ knowledge, I would really recommend the below online class by Dawn Butler of Dinky Doodle Designs. I’ve seen Dawn in action and she is like a magician when it comes to an airbrush. She even manufactures her own! Check out the class and watch the trailer below and follow the link for a special discount on the class 🙂 Enjoy!

Get Started Airbrushing – 25% off!

Get Started Airbrushing – 25% off!

Some of Sharon's favourite tools

13 Comments on The Creation of Mr. Rex

  1. Kimberly
    October 6, 2015 at 10:59 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing your Mr. Rex Creation. I feel that I can try to create a 3D cake now. May I ask what support was used for the tail and how was it attached? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      October 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Kimberly, I used some armature wire for the tail’s support (you can get it from art stores) which was hot glued to the base.

      Reply
  2. Liz Dillon
    November 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Sharon, I love your T-Rex he is absolutely gorgeous!!
    May I ask what medium you used to make the tail, legs and arms?? Is it modelling chocolate covered in fondant? Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      November 11, 2015 at 8:41 am (2 years ago)

      Hi Liz, it was meant to be pure modelling chocolate but I ran out so I mixed it with fondant. I wouldn’t recommend doing that normally but I knew no one would eat those parts so it was fine this time.

      Reply
      • Francine- The Garden Baker
        October 23, 2017 at 5:12 pm (1 month ago)

        Why would you recommend not mixing modelling chocolate with fondant? That is exactly what I use for everything that I model. It hardens well and will also not break any teeth if bitten into and it tastes great. I use homemade MD with Satin Ice fondant.

        Reply
  3. Sam
    December 17, 2015 at 11:49 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Sharon,
    Did the airbrush booth work? I need to make one and I m looking for tips to avoid ending up with colour everywhere
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      December 18, 2015 at 6:33 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Sam, it definitely helps, it’s better than nothing! But some colour still does escape into the air.

      Reply
  4. Meredith
    January 7, 2016 at 12:21 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Sharon, love this tutorial! Where do you get styrofoam balls at and after you carved them was there fondant between the head and body so that the styrofoam doesn’t touch the actual cake? Those balls look different from the ones that look like they have tiny air pockets in them, if that makes sense.

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      January 7, 2016 at 7:50 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Meredith, I get my styrofoam balls from Lincraft usually in Australia. I think a big enough craft store should have it. You can use fondant to separate the cake and ball if you don’t want them to touch.

      Reply
  5. Annabel
    January 7, 2016 at 6:03 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Sharon. Thank you foe sharing your fantastic work. What do you use for under the belly of the T rex, to give it a more realistic shape? And how do you attach it?

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      January 7, 2016 at 7:48 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Annabel, I just used modelling chocolate attached with water. Fondant would also work too.

      Reply
  6. Jacqueline Rocha
    April 23, 2017 at 7:50 am (7 months ago)

    Hi, I’m wanting to attempt this for my son’s 5th birthday, and I was wondering if you could tell me what size the cakes and styrofoam balls are?

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      April 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm (7 months ago)

      Hi Jacqueline, it depends how big you want to make it but in my case I used an 8 inch square cake and the balls were approximately 3 and 5 inches in diameter.

      Reply

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