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How-Tuesday: Paint Your Own Cake Toppers

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We are Anna and Juan Donado. We run our wooden craft company, along with our supply shop Goose Grease Undone, out of our studio in Brooklyn.

Goose Grease began as custom-painted wooden families and dolls for children. Then a few brides requested custom doll portraits for their wedding cakes. With that, the idea of the peg doll cake topper was born. It has caught on as a creative way to add a personal touch to your wedding decorations and, at the same time, have a long-lasting art object as a memory of your wedding.

We are happy to say that each and every doll has its own personality. With this project you can make your own.

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You Will Need:
Wooden peg dolls
One thin and one flat paint brush
Acrylic paint – Folk Art and Americana are a couple good brands
Tortillon – Shader
Top coat –Matte finish
Sandpaper (for correcting mistakes)
Mechanical pencil

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Step 1: Make sure the surface of the wood is smooth and that all knicks or uneven places are sanded down. Holding the wood’s vertical lines towards you, draw two points for the eyes, then draw the hairline around the perimeter of the face.

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Step 2: To draw the arms, envision an imaginary line from the point of the eye all the way down to the hand. This will be the inside of the arm. Go back up to draw the outside of both arms. In the case of the bride, a horizontal line connecting both arms cuts across to make the bride’s dress (variations to the neckline can be made after this line is drawn). For the groom, draw a V in the center going down from the neck. This will make for his suit.

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Step 3: Paint the bride’s hair. Use the flat part of your flat brush to get around the edges. (Warning: Using the thin brush to outline the hair will create bumps in the paint).

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Step 4: Paint the groom’s hair. Again, use the flat part of the brush to outline the hair. For the beard, use the thin brush. To make a “five o’clock shadow,” either use your toothpick or thin brush to stipple along the face.

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Step 5: Wash and re-shape your brush between each use.

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Step 6: Paint the white part for the V of the groom’s shirt. Re-draw the V for the groom’s shirt, if needed. Draw and paint the tie. Use the thin brush for these details.

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Step 7: Paint the bride’s dress with the flat brush, making sure that her hair is dry so you can hold her head while working on the body. Depending on your paint, the dress might require two coats. If so, let the paint dry between each coat.

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Step 8: Paint the groom’s suit. Again, use the flat brush to go around the hands. Go onto the neck for the suit. Use the thin brush if needed, but the flat brush works well.

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Step 9: Dot the eyes and, using the toothpick, begin working on other details.

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Step 10: Start finishing the bride! Draw a few lines to suggest the ruffles of her dress and draw the outline for the bouquet. For the latter, draw a simple circle and then begin to paint the leaves first, leaving a space for the flowers. Simplicity is the key here. After working on the leaves, begin to add the flowers using one or two colors. Think of a symmetrical pattern: leaf, flower, leaf, flower…

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Step 11: Add the final touches to your bouquet. The toothpick can be used here to add baby’s breath or lavender dots. Now, shade the pencil lines on the dress using the shader or tortillon. This will give an effect of ruffles and will prevent the line from smudging once the top coat is applied.

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Step 12: Start finishing the groom! Detail his suit. Using paint and a very thin brush is good for the advanced painter. For an easier route that also looks dazzling, use a pencil and tortillon to blend the line. Wrap a post-it note around the body to draw the jacket line. Blend over the line with the tortillon.

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Step 13: You’re almost finished! Once the eyes are dry, begin erasing the pencil marks so you can start seeing the final picture. Apply the final top coat. Work on the head first, let it dry, and then apply the coat to the body. Be generous. Once this is done, after all this hard work, having said “I do” will both sound and look sweeter.

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Optional: If you have some smaller details you would like to include and need a thinner brush, personalize your own thin round brush. We recommend buying a size 1 round brush and cutting half of the bristles. Size 1 is the perfect length. Having half of the bristles is good for some tiny detailing needs.

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All photographs by Goose Grease.