Introduction: Food Art Tips for Makers - Epic Gingerbread Condo
You can't always get what you want, but you CAN make it! This gingerbread house is a replica of our real-life renovation that was canceled. We wanted to see the plans come to life anyway!
I hadn't worked with food before, and I was pleasantly surprised that many of my maker skills translated to food sculpture quite easily. I'll share what I learned below!
Here's a 7-minute timelapse of the 7-day Gingerbread House build:
Here's the full story behind the renovation and design:
Fairy String Addressable LED Lights with controller: https://amzn.to/37y4Ukl
Wilton Texture 2-Piece Mold Set, Cobblestone/Wood: https://amzn.to/35SPmr3
Isomalt Crystals: https://amzn.to/3Jvfeb3
Reusable Silicone Baking Cups: https://amzn.to/3KQskQl
Judee's Complete Meringue Powder Mix: https://amzn.to/3ic6A56
Step 1: Make an "Easy Scale" Drawing
- I enlarged my floorplan drawing so that 1 inch = 1 mm. This gave me a manageable scale and made it easy to translate measurements for furniture, appliances, and other items without doing any math.
- I printed out the floorplan, laid it over two sheets of foam core, trimmed it to size, and covered it with packing tape to make it waterproof.
Step 2: Make Gingerbread
- Some gingerbread recipes are better for building and some are better for eating. I used a "building" recipe for the walls and an "eating" recipe for the appliances and other interior details so that we could eat the cabinets when we were done.
- I'm not a cook so I won't share these recipes here, but be sure to look for structural gingerbread for building or gingerbread cookie recipes for eating - there are many to be found online.
Step 3: Cabinet Details
- I printed out our cabinet schematics to scale and used them to cut out the cookies. Before I put them in the oven, I drew in the cabinet frame details to give it a 2.5D look.
- For the corner cabinet, I made a little brace out of tin foil so that the cookie would bake in the 3D shape of that cabinet.
Step 4: Cabinet Details: Food Coloring, Icing, and Isomalt
Here's what I used for the details:
- Food coloring became paint to make the cabinets dark brown
- Gold sprinkles became the cabinet hardware
- Isomalt was melted into "glass" for the cabinet doors, back door, and mirrors
I melted the isomalt in tiny silicone baking cups in the microwave. This allowed me to make tiny batches for the itty bitty details, and after the isomalt hardened the cup released the hardened sugar easily! Here's where I got them:
Reusable Silicone Baking Cups: https://amzn.to/35SPmr3
Isomalt Crystals: https://amzn.to/3Jvfeb3
Step 5: Royal Icing As Glue
- The Royal icing was an amazing glue for all of the gingerbread pieces. I mixed up one batch that I colored to "gingerbread color" and one that I left white. I figured that if I started with a gingerbread color icing and painted it with food coloring once it dried, the color would look consistent across icing and gingerbread. I don't know if that was necessary, but it made sense to me!
I was very happy with the performance of the mix that I chose. The consistency was smooth and perfect for building. The recipe is on the packaging: Judee's Complete Meringue Powder Mix: https://amzn.to/35SPmr3
Step 6: Paint the Walls
- I used white royal icing to paint the walls. It felt very much like I was painting the walls of a real apartment. Mission accomplished!
Step 7: Fondant Floors
- I was so lucky to find a fondant mold that was exactly the texture and scale that I needed for my wood floor and stone wall - perfect! Wilton Texture 2-Piece Mold Set, Cobblestone/Wood: https://amzn.to/35SPmr3
- I colored white fondant to a light brown color, rolled it into the mold, then added a wash of food coloring on top once the floor was in place. This allowed me to create some natural variation as you would see in a real wood floor, and bring out the texture from the mold like a dry brush technique.
Step 8: Tile Details
- Oh, the tiny sprinkles! I spent about an hour in the sprinkles isle at Joanne Fabrics thinking about tiny tiles. (Who knew they had a whole sprinkles isle?) They didn't have green so I got white and colored them.
- I also used a black and white pattern to mimic old-fashioned tiles for the bathroom floor.
- For the kitchen backsplash, I rolled out a piece of fondant and placed it over the wall. Then, I used a fork to create horizontal lines, dragging the fork across. Then, I used a nylon stick to add the vertical grout lines. I went in with a watered-down grey wash of food coloring to subtly bring out the texture.
Step 9: Stand the Walls Up!
- Once all the details were added to the walls, I used the royal icing to stand them up in place. I used soup cans to lean the walls against until the royal icing was dry.
Step 10: Backyard Rice Krispies!
- The backyard of the condo was about 2 feet above the ground, so I filled it in with a batch of Rice Krispy treats, with a gingerbread border.
- Since it was winter, I covered it with a layer of fondant "snow"
Step 11: Stone Wall Texture
- I used the same fondant texture set to make the grey stone wall.
- I added a fence made of pretzel sticks.
Step 12: A Few More Details
- The furniture was made by creating gingerbread cookies at the correct dimensions and then covering the cookies in fondant.
- I used a food coloring marker to make the tiny piano keys on a piece of sugar paper.
- The marble countertop was a mix of black and white fondant marbled together.
Step 13: Add Lights!
- I used a micro:bit and some addressable fairy string lights to add lighting throughout the condo.
- I used isomalt to glue the wires to the gingerbread.
- There were some lights that needed more wire in-between them, so I simply skipped an LED in the code so that it wouldn't turn on. You can find the lights I used here: Fairy String Addressable LED Lights with controller: https://amzn.to/37y4Ukl
Step 14: Spaghetti Beams!
- Thick fettuccini was the perfect size to mimic the 5-inch steel beams in the condo. We looked everywhere for spinach fettuccini but we were out of luck so we painted them with food coloring.
- I assembled the beams with royal icing but later discovered that isomalt would have been a better glue because the pasta ended up absorbing the water from the icing and coming apart.
Step 15: More Details
- The barstools are candy on top of pretzels.
- The rug is sugar paper painted with food coloring.
- The sofa cushions are coconut candies trimmed to rectangles, with stitching details added.
- The Christmas tree is an ice cream cone painted with food coloring and trimmed with fondant and sprinkles.
Step 16: Fire!
- To make the tiny flames, I used food coloring in isomalt and poured it onto a silicone surface. Instant Flames!
Step 17: Cookie People. You Are What You Eat!
- To make tiny versions of ourselves, I made gingerbread cookies that were roughly to scale in height and covered them with fondant to make them look like us.
Step 18: Finished! the Entryway
Step 19: Finished! the Hallway / Bathroom
Step 20: Finished! the Bedroom
Step 21: Finished! the Living Room
Step 22: Finished! the Backyard.... and SMASH!
When we were finished making our Gingerbread Condo we gave it a good SMASH! It felt great. It tasted great too! Who knew that putting fondant on top of Rice Krispy treats would keep them moist for 5 days? True story!
I highly recommend making your dream house out of gingerbread. It was way more fun than I could have imagined. Put it on the calendar for the next holiday season!
I hope you enjoyed seeing my process! If you want to see more of my work, you can follow me here on Instructables and on Instagram and YouTube - Please Subscribe! You can also buy tech-craft kits designed by me at TechnoChic.net.
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Grand Prize in the
Diorama Speed Challenge