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Make-a-Cake Series: Panda and Bamboo

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Where do I get my inspiration?
I think my inspiration is more like research.
When I am making a cake, sometimes being creative is limited to a theme. 
For example, what my daughter wants for her birthday or something meaningful for my sister-in-law.
I start getting inspired when I talk to someone ordering a cake for a loved one. For example, a big sister ordering a birthday cake for her baby sister, who loves panda bears.The big sister very thoughtfully picks a theme, we discuss the idea, and then we come up with a plan.
After the phone call, I always love the direction the cake is going…………..then it takes a few seconds to stop and think……..”I have no idea how to make gumpaste pandas!”
So I then sit down at the computer and start looking for inspiration.  I look at pictures of panda bears and take note of things like the shape of his nose, how the bear is sitting, where the coloring is on his body, etc.
Then I look at other cakes that have a panda theme. I take note of what others have done, to get an idea of what I do and don’t like.

After I collect my information, I start working with my gumpaste. 

And add a little of this and a little of that. I try and merge together what pandas look like and then add my own “cute” edge to it. 
In the end, this is the result:
After my research, I get inspired as I create. But I have to tell you, it does not always happen fluidly. I made that top panda twice and parts of him three or four times. The first one even ended up in the trash all smashed with my hand. Ha Ha. (I guess your passion is supposed to torture you a little right?) But that is why I love this form of art……it always challenges me.

Do you want a Panda cake of your own?
Or maybe just some more tips on making figures?
I hope this helps!


-White and Black gumpaste
-Exacto knife
-Fondant tools
-Small circle cutter

Shape the body and head. The head should be about 1/2 the size of the body.
Set both parts aside.

Make two balls the same size for the legs. Shape them into teardrop legs with your hands.
(The body is there only for scale.)

Wrap the legs around the base of the body. Attach with a little bit of water.
Flatten out the feet with the orange gumpaste tool pictured above.

 Roll out a black snake for the arms.

Using a little bit of water, attach the arms around the pandas body.
Set the body aside. We will put a little more detail on it later.

For the face of the panda, start by putting a heart shape right in the middle of the head.
I rolled out black gumpaste and cut this heart with my exacto knife. You could also use a small heart cutter.

Now with your hands, form a slight oval shape for the nose. Then add a small black nose tip in the slight shape of a triangle. Using your straw or small circle cutter, make detail marks on the nose.

Add eyes to the face.

**hint** the smaller you make the eyes the better they look. If the eyes are too big the panda gets a “scared” look! Not good on a birthday cake….we want happy pandas! ha ha

For the ears, I took a small ball of black gumpaste and flattened it out in the center and off to one side, with my fondant tool.  Then I added the ears to the head with a little water.

Then I stuck a toothpick down into the body, added a little water to the gumpaste around the toothpick, then slid the head down onto the toothpick.  (Just remember to tell the recipient that there is a toothpick inside.)

Then I just added a little more detail to the body.
I used my orange tool to make the claw markings and a little tan fondant for the pads on the feet.
Get as detailed as you want!

Once  you have the basics you can play with pandas in different positions.

 A panda on his back:

A panda laying in the grass on his belly:

Make them just how you’d like them.

Now for the Bamboo.
(In case you’re interested in adding some to a panda cake.  Kind of a cute little touch.)

Roll out a long “snake” of tan gumpaste.
(You can use fondant for this also.)
 I just use my hands and the table with cornstarch sprinkled on it.

Using a clean pair of scissors, cut the gumpaste into segments.
Vary the lengths from 1-2 inches long.

Shape half of the segments to give them a flatter end for the bottom of the bamboo.

I made 23 segments out of gumpaste. Set them aside to dry for 2-3 hours.
I didn’t let them dry all the way so they would be firm enough to hold their shape but still soft so I can add detail. If you used fondant, let the fondant dry for 12-24 hours.

After the segments have dried arrange them on the cake.

Add a little bit of water on the back of the segments and stack them together.

Take your teal fondant tool and add detail to the segments.
I added extra segment marks and indents between the segment.

At times it comes from somebody else.
Sometimes it comes from neccesity.
But by the end, I feel inspired about my hobby.

So feel free, get inspired!

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Terri says:

    Hi! Just wanted to let you know that my daughter (7) used your panda instructions to make a clay panda bear. She entered it into our local regional fair and she won 1st place in her age group! Thanks so much for the great pics and instructions.

  2. Brittany says:

    Anissa- That 24-48 hours is the time until they will be dry enough to hold their shape. You can make your figures days and even weeks ahead of time. Store then in a dark cool place and they will keep for a very long time. Good luck and thanks for reading!

  3. Anissa says:

    This is an amazing cake. Way to go! I am getting ready to attempt my first fondant cake and I have a question about the little pieces that you make ahead and set out to try dry.
    How far ahead can you make little fondant and gumpaste pieces that you let sit out to dry? If I want to make all the little extra pieces a few days before the party, will they last or can they only sit out to dry 24-48 hours???
    Thanks so much for this series. I love it.

  4. Sheila says:

    I love all your ideas! I think I might have to try the color you use because I always have a hard time getting my fondant and icing the same color. It is always slightly off. hmmm

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love it! Do you make your own gumpaste, or do you buy it?

  6. Amber says:

    My 8 year old son has recently become obsessed with cake making. We have already checked out several books and videos on the subject. He is just going to die when he sees this post. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. erin says:

    i LOVE the make-a-cake series!! my daughters 2nd bday is 2 months away and i'm going to attempt fondant. this series was exactly what i was looking for while searching the web for ideas and how to's. hopefully its as easy as you make it seem!

  8. Maryquylla says:


  9. Brittany says:

    I use Americolor food coloring. You can get it from cake decorating suppliers online or I know they sell it on amazon. They have a line of "Electric" colors. If I need a bright green like this cake I will use 75% leaf green coloring and 25% electric green. It works really well!

  10. Amy @ Blowout Party! says:

    What a cute cake! Great tutorial- you make it look doable!

  11. Christy, says:

    this is too cute!

  12. Christine says:

    You do such a great job!! I have to ask, do you color your fondant and gumpaste yourself to get such vibrant colors? If so, what do you use? Thanks for the tips on receiving inspiration :)

  13. Jamie says:

    This cake is ADORABLE, and again it looks so EASY. Thanks for the step by step, I wonder if I would ever be brave enough to try. Maybe I should start with playdough :).

  14. Kerri says:

    You….are….AMAZING!! Thank you for sharing, this is my new favorite site!

  15. beth says:

    I have to say, one of your cutest cake themes! I love those little pandas. :)

  16. Joseph's Grainery Recipes says:

    What an adorable design! Those pandas are just too cute.

  17. Princesa Artesanias says:

    Lindo Blog, excenlent todo lo que publicas!!! Que Dios te bendiga!!!!

  18. Andrea says:

    This is so cute!! Thanks for taking me through the process, now I feel like I could make a cake by doing the same things (research, etc.)

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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