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This article was taken from our November 2020 Issue Buy this issue now

Ask the Expert: Carla Puig

Ask the Expert: Carla Puig

Carla Puig is an award-winning cake designer with a talent for sculpting incredible lifelike creations and busts.


Q: How do you ensure you get realistic skin tones?

A: I like to colour the modelling chocolate a little before I start modelling. I normally use gels to give a very soft colour. Once the piece is done, I like to colour around the more vascular areas such as eyes, nose, lips and ears a little darker using powders mixed with cocoa butter. You can also pronounce the cheeks using red powder very diluted with cocoa butter.


Q: When starting out, what tools did you use to sculpt?

A: I always use the same tools. My favourite ones to start with are the Cerart 301, 304, 305 and K600. Once the piece is almost finished, I like to use tools with a flexible silicone tip to achieve better results with details. My favourites are taper point tip, angle chisel and round tip from Cerart as well.


Q: What should be the first steps for a sculpting beginner?

A: I think the most important part when sculpting a realistic face is to do the right volumes. For beginners, pay special attention to the volume of the cheekbones and the nose. When I teach, I always bring a little skull with me to show students WHERE and HOW the bones are placed so they understand better how to make it. We see thousands of faces everyday but normally don’t pay attention to, for example, how deep the eyes are inside the brow bones or how wide the nostrils are. From now on, try to look at all those small details, maybe with a picture or using a member of your family as a model. The best way to improve is practise, practise, practise. We all start at some point so don’t be afraid and just try it. To make mistakes is the best way to learn because those mistakes are the knowledge achieved for your next sculpture. This is how you can improve the most. Feel proud of your ‘mistakes’ because all of them will allow you to make it better next time.


Q: What is the best way to texture skin?

A: Once the face is completely done, I like to texture using orange peel. I cover the face with cling film then press the peel to give texture. In winter or when using air conditioning, chocolate can be too hard for this step so use a hairdryer (VERY CAREFULLY!) to warm it a little before you cover with cling film and then press softly.


Q: My faces look quite masculine – how can I ensure female characters look more feminine?

A: Males usually have bigger bones than females. If the face looks quite masculine, try to remove a little volume from the forehead, nose and jaw. If it looks angled, try to make it more rounded. Sometimes, the distance between the nose and mouth makes the difference. If this distance is too long and the lips are thin, it could look masculine. Try to make thicker lips and a shorter distance between the mouth and nose.


Q: What is the best way to transport a sculpture?

A: Make a list of all the difficulties you may struggle with before you start your design. It depends a lot on the means of transport but, for example, if travelling by plane, check the sizes allowed for each airline. This might mean you have to place the sculpture in a horizontal position in the overhead compartment so you will need a very good internal structure. Or maybe you have to make it in two parts because of size restrictions. Another important handicap is that chocolate is a fragile medium, soft and very sensitive to heat and humidity. Try to prevent all those problems using the proper box, tying the sculpture well inside and be sure there’s no other loose objects in the box that can damage it.

Ask the Expert: Carla Puig Cakes