Friday, December 27, 2013

How To: Gingerbread Fortress of Peace and Tranquility

Merry Christmas to all!! In light of this festive time of the year we decided a gingerbread fortress was in order. So, let's show you how to build a beautiful Gingerbread Fortress of Peace and Tranquility.

Our building blocks are going to be graham crackers instead of gingerbread. It works out to be a bit more economical. Pretzel sticks, hard candies and Royal Icing are the remaining ingredients.

We covered a large piece of hardboard and laid out our basic floorplan.

To carve the best thing we found was the hobby/dental tool with the spatula shaped blade. For holes, the pointed one worked the best.

It's best to take many shallow strokes to cut your piece out. The fresher the crackers the harder they are to cut. This is going to be a tower window.

Starting at the left side of the fortress we began to assemble the walls. We placed our royal icing in a plastic freezer bag and cut a corner out of it to squeeze out the icing.

Here we are working over to the right side. If you carve out any doorways and can keep them intact, you'll want them for later.

The easy way to build is placing the icing on one side and the bottom . . .

then pressing into place.

The first floor is almost all walled up!

Now we start running the lights!! We planned two light for each tower and three lights for the main building.
We'll also be including 6 yellow LED, 5 red LED and one servo motor.

If you decide as we did to add spacers in tall towers for support, remember to cut holes out to pass wires through

Next we wanted glass in our windows and used the hard candies for "stained glass". You can crush the candy in its rapper or plastic bag using a hammer. place some of the pieces on cooking parchment and heat in the oven on low heat til it melts.

Let it cool and harden. Then you can cut or break it to fit in your window openings. Use the royal icing to glue the windows in place.

Another way is to place your gingerbread/graham crackers, with openings already cut, on the parchment and insert the crushed candy in the openings.

Here's a basic window in place.

You can mix and match colors for variety. This tower section received a green and yellow upper window and a red lower one.

Once all the LED wires were installed the roof for the first floor went into place.

One LED and our servo were run out the front for the gatehouse.

The roof had a hole cut into it for the servo arm to go through. The motor portion was glued to the bottom with the royal icing. Once it set up we put the roof on he gatehouse and added a palisade wall made from our pretzel sticks. This hides the wires quite well.

Our leftmost tower received a door and walkway to the main section.

The cathedral section with rosette stained glass window was next. Our four walls were built and ready so we slathered royal icing liberally on the opening

The front wall with window was carefully cut from two graham cracker sections and the colored candy and sugar was painstakingly oriented in the circle and it was placed in the oven with this result. The side walls were attached to stabilize it and lastly the rear section.

Then let it dry so the icing will harden before adding any roof.

We finished the right rear tower while waiting.

As things got close to finished, the front right tower was given a peaked roof, the gatehouse rotating top was given a candy cane dual barrel Gatling gun, the left courtyard palisade was pit in place and finally the roof was added to the cathedral section of our fortress.

The walkway had some supports added for good measure.

One Gatling gun did not seem sufficient to defend our fortress and keep it tranquil so we decided to add a couple turrets to the two tallest towers. We cut two cracker discs and five armored wall sections plus two pretzel stick barrels. Using our pointed carving too we drilled out the gun barrels and cut holes in each disc so our LED could be run through.

Each gun was placed, the LED run through and then attached to the tower with a hefty amount of icing.

There you have it in the daylight!

And here you can see the LED configuration and interior lighting. The LEDs have different blinking configurations and run off a small USB powered board. 

For the 12 interior lights we hooked them up to a transformer from a train set.

Additional candy and icing decorations will be added in the very near future, but there you have it for today!!

Have a great battle,
The Old Crow