Cake modelling tools and their uses

Learn about cake modelling tools and how to use them in this handy guide from multi-award-winning cake artist and pastry chef, Jacqui Kelly on behalf of Renshaw Academy.

When creating any sugar work piece be it cakes, cookies, models or cupcakes, a handy set of tools can help you add a variety of details and designs to your sugarcraft models, flowers and more. These include frilling, cutting, veining, shaping and embossing.

The only problem can be knowing where to start... Luckily, Jacqui Kelly, Renshaw Academy ambassador is here to help with a useful guide on cake modelling tools and how to create an array of effects you'll be able to use in your sugarcraft projects. Let's get started!

Sugarpaste modelling tools

Jacqui has used the PME set which are the tools she started with and still uses today to demonstrate some of the uses.

This set is double-ended and from left to right includes:

  • Blade and shell tool
  • 5-6 star tool
  • Bone tool
  • Stitch/cutting wheel tool 
  • Scallop and comb tool 
  • Bulbous cone tool
  • Ball tool
  • Flower-Leaf Dresden tool
  • Serrated and taper cone tool

There are lots of other tools that you can buy in sets or individually, but these would form a core set that cover a huge range of techniques. 

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cake sugarpaste modelling tools

Tools and materials

  • 5 4in hexagonal cake cards coated in Renshaw Sapphire Blue Ready to Roll sugar paste
  • Rolling pin
  • Small palette knife
  • Scalpel
  • PME double ended tool set
  • Small scissors
  • Variety of piping tips or small circle cutters
  • Rainbow Dust Edible Glue or water
  • Renshaw Ready to roll sugar paste in Sapphire Blue, Baby Blue, Lincoln Green, Pastel Green and Tiger Orange
  • Rainbow Dust Tylo Powder 

How to use cake modelling tools to create an array of effects

sugarpaste tiles laid out

Creating a ‘mermaid’/'under the sea' effect using modelling tools

Tools used:

  • Scallop and comb tool 
  • Flower-Leaf Dresden tool
  • 5 and 6-star tool

Using the scallop and comb tool while the blue covering paste is still soft, drag the comb across the paste using different pressures and directions to create a wave pattern. Then push the comb end down to create dotted seaweed shapes. 

The scallop and comb modelling tool is great at creating geometric patterns as well.

Scallop and comb tool creating a wave pattern

Use marbled paste to create the mermaid tail and emboss with the scallop tool in a fish scale pattern. 

This modelling tool is also great for... making mouths in models and scooping up dusts and edible glitters.

Scallop and comb tool mermaid tail and fish scales

Using the thin end of the Dresden tool drag down to blend different coloured pastes into the tail fin. The spine on the back of the tool is one of the most versatile, great for pattern markings and embossing and used lots when modelling and flower making.

dresden tool mermaid tail fin effect

To finish roll small balls of paste and attach with water or sugar glue. Embossing the centres with the 5-6 star tool.

embossing with 5 6 star modelling tool

Creating frills using modelling tools 

Tools used:

  • Bulbous cone tool

Add a little Tylo Powder to create a firmer paste, roll out thinly and using the rough edges and smooth edges create frills. Use a flower pad and the bulbous cone shape, ½ on and ½ off the paste, roll it across with firm pressure to thin and flute the edges. Then attach on their sides with water.

bulbous cone shape frills

Build up a random pattern of frills, working from the centre out, leaving some gaps to add piles of small coloured balls embossed in the centre with the blunt end of the tool. To create smooth frills and frilled flowers cut neat edges with a scalpel rather than rolling the rough edges.  

This modelling tool is also great for... making Mexican hat flowers and in modelling to create the hole in the ends of sleeves to add in the hands, etc.

frills pattern using modelling tools

Creating dots, stars and flowers using modelling tools

Tools used:

  • 5-6 star tool
  • Serrated and taper cone tool
  • Bone tool

The 5-6 star and the serrated and taper cones tools are fantastic for embossing patterns. By pushing them in at different depths you can create an assortment of patterns. The star tools are also useful for creating a quilted effect like a cushion where the button would be.

embossed pattern using cake modelling tools

These tools are also wonderful for making tiny filler flowers without a cutter. Following the green paste in the photo, roll a ball, then tear drop, push in the star tip, snip down the grooves and then use the small end of the bone tool to draw out and thin each petal. Add a centre embossed with the cone tool. Snip off the tail and attach shell with water. 

The bone modelling tool is also great for... making frills, indenting holes (e.g. eye sockets) in models and thinning the petals of flowers.

tiny filler sugarpaste flowers using modelling tools

Creating frilled flowers using modelling tools

Tools used:

  • Flower-Leaf Dresden tool
  • Stitch/cutting wheel tool 
  • Ball tool
  • Bone tool

Using the spine of the Dresden tool which also appears on the end of the stitch wheel tool, emboss wavy lines and then use the stitch wheel to indent more lines and patterns.

This stitch/cutting modelling tool is also great for... adding detail to clothing on models and for any fabric effect or patchwork patterns.

dresden tools wavy lines

Using small round cutters (Jacqui used piping tips) cut a variety of sizes and colours from paste to which you have added a little Tylo Powder to make it firmer. With the large end of the ball tool, 1/2 on and 1/2 off the paste on a flower pad, thin and flute the edge. The firmer you press the frillier they become. Layer up the circles with a little water or edible glue and create ball centres embossed with the small ball tool end.

ball modelling tool frilled flowers

Top tip! Each end of the ball and bone tool can be used for thinning the edges of curved petals as can the bulbous cone, but it’s more useful on straight frills.

Creating embossed, groove and fringed effects 

Tools used:

  • Shell and blade tool

The shell end of this tool makes a wonderful embossing pattern both pulled along or pressed in to form shapes and detail.

shell and blade modelling tool for embossing

The blade can be used for cutting and smoothing and makes a wonderful smooth v-shaped groove and fringed effect. Cut out small circles and use the shell end to form individual veined petals for a flower or to create modelled shell shapes.

shell and blade tool techniques

The possibilities are endless with these tools! Don't they look great?! What will you create?

modelling tool tiles

Now you’re familiar with cake modelling tools and their uses, see what other essential cake decorating equipment you’ll find in every pro’s kitchen

Jacqui Kelly (Jacqui Kelly Edible Art) is a multi-award-winning cake artist and pastry chef, who can easily switch between larger than life designs and miniature creations, with incredible attention to detail. Jacqui loves to confuse and delight all the senses, using food as an art medium to get people talking. Jacqui’s demonstrations and classes are always a huge hit because of her entertaining, informative and friendly teaching style. She represents the Renshaw and Rainbow Dust brands and products as a Renshaw Academy Ambassador.

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