Delayed by the hospitalization of my laptop, I am finally rejoining the
blogosphere! I've been wanting to post about one of my favorite cake
arts, which is painting on cake, so let's get to it!
One of the reasons the transition between the art world and the cake
world felt so seamless to me is because many of the techniques I used
with clay sculpting translate well in the cake realm. Some are even
easier. Certainly many of them are faster. Getting color on a 3-D object
is most definitely one of those faster/easier activities. In clay,
there are loooooong firings, layers of color, and big surprises when you
open the kiln!
But CAKE...well, cake is a kinder, gentler object d'art. It doesn't
explode, (well it can, but it's gonna cost ya), the colors stay (fairly)
true, and unlike clay sculptures, cake is delicious.
Almost every cake I do involves laying on color of some sort, usually
with either airbrush or paintbrush, or both. I love both. You've already
seen, in previous posts, a lot of painting, but here are a few I
haven't posted before.
On this piece, I was able to combine paint and airbrush, as well as a
little royal icing detailing. I painted the whole scene on a flat, cut
out sheet of fondant to which I had added tylose so that it would dry
into a nice hard surface. After I finish painting, I simply place it on a
fondant covered cake. The advantages to this method are many; I can
work and work for as long as it takes (and this one took a while!)
without having a cake going stale under it, I don't have to worry about
damaging the cake while I'm painting, and the client can remove the
whole thing from the top of the cake before they serve it. They can keep
it indefinitely, too, as long as they keep it dry and out of direct
Here's another "painted disc"...
This one makes me giggle. It was a baby shower for a couple who's last
name was Bacon, so their friends asked for "Bacon Baby", the superhero.
Notice the bacon cape!
Here's another little baby shower cake, based on the invite :
This cake is a portrait of the deity "Green Tara":
"Green Tara" involved a variation of the painted disc, as her face and
hand and flower were all painted on tylosed fondant which I cut out into
the shapes, and then painted. Again, airbrush, brush and royal icing.
Hello people of Bloglandia! I have been drifting out somewhere on the
fringes of the Blogosphere, but I have returned! (Actually I have been
to the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show by the invitation of Kerry Vincent,
giving demonstrations and teaching classes!) While I deeply respect
those people who blog with such regularity, alas, I may never be one of
them. But I have dusted off the cobwebs here at Special Sugar, brewed a
huge cafe con leche, and I'm ready to post something new!
I recently had the opportunity to make a cake for an event benefitting
Kate's Club here in Atlanta. Kate's Club is a place for kids who have
lost family members. They can hang out and talk to other kids who
understand what they are going through. Amazing, right?
The event was a cabaret, in the style of Moulin Rouge. They gave me free
range to do what ever I wanted (rubs hands together with devilish
expression), so I said "OOOOH, I'm making a big Can Can Dancer!!!!"
before they had a chance to suggest restraint and good taste.
Right around the same time, I got a call from a German television show
called Galileo, asking if I had any good cakes coming up that they could
film me making. "Well...as a matter of fact.." So they flew a small
crew in, and they filmed the making of Busty McChesterfield. (of COURSE
Joshua came up with that!)
So let me show you what I did...
In building my armature, I had to plan support for the figure, which
needed to float out in front of the cake rather than emerging from the
center as most of them do.
Next I piled on the cake. I think I ended up using 16 full sheets of
yellow cake, soaked with Grand Marnier, with chocolate butter cream.
Once the cake was filled and in place, i carved some folds into it to
create the look of bunched fabric. Ordinarily I would have used the
fondant to make the folds in the fabric, but this is such a big skirt I
wanted the folds to be big and deep enough.
Next came the big sheet of fondant. This part is always challenging. I
lucked out on the Sumo Cake, as one try gave me the perfect covering.
However, Ms McChesterfield proved slightly more challenging. We had a
few rips in the fondant here and there, but as I always say, if you
can't hide it, decorate it!
Now the fun. I would like to take a moment here to point out our fabulous newly renovated workspace! Hallalujer!
Even though I have folds in the fabric, I added more to increase the
realism. I want her to be holding the edge of her skirt, so I need a
bunched up look.
As you can see, the fondant needs some refining.
Next I forced Joshua to get up under her skirt and make a bajillion
ruffles, even though he protested that it made him uncomfortable. Too
bad! Get up under that hood and fix that skirt!
He did a bang-up job, btw.
From here on it's all details. (That's where the devil lives).
I do love the details!
There she goes! Out the door to entertain at the cabaret! Busty, I loved
you for the few moments I knew you! (Dancers...they'll break your
And just for fun, here's the cake I did at the Oklahoma show, assisted by Joshua...
PS, you can see me this month on Halloween Wars, on Food Network,
Sundays at 9 and in repeats here and there during the week. Tune in and
see me get all girly gushy over Rob Zombie! (I'm a fan, what can I
Probably more than any other cake I have done to date, my Giant Octopus
Cake has gotten a bit of attention. It was recently in National
Geographic Kid's, and will be in their upcoming book "Weird But True".
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to see my name associated with
that title. A picture of it also went viral, a phenomenon I learned
about when my Flickr account suddenly had 113,000 hits over night.
For those of you who haven't seen her, here she is...
Awwww...she's pretty, right? Well, as her Cake Mother, I think she's lovely, anyway. Because she's a giant! Octopus! Cake!
Making a giant octopus cake is, as you might imagine, complicated. Love
them as I may, there were moments I was wishing I were more passionate
To begin, I had to visualize the octopus on the board, and try to figure
out which tentacles would need support, and which would not. And if I
could get away with saying she was sitting on three of them. But
Once I had a good sketch, and a buttercream outline on my cake board, I
affixed the copper tubing to the base. The next step was to pile on 9
full sheet cakes, being careful to lower each one over the armature. I
wanted the octopus to be sitting on cake, to ensure enough servings.
Next comes the layers that will be carved. I ordered all kinds of layers
from our pastry team; half sheets, 18" rounds, on down to 7" rounds.
Then I began layering and filling, being careful to keep in mind the
ultimate shape I was hoping to achieve.
It helped to carve a bit as I went along, because it was a big cake. The
tips of some of the tentacles were rice cereal treats. Finally, I had a
basic shape, filled, carved, and ready for fondant.
You may have noticed that there was sunlight coming through the windows at the start of this cake...
Now the fondant. While I tried my best to use the biggest pieces
possible, one of the advantages of this complex shape was lots of nooks
and crannies to hide seams!
One of the goals in this design was to have the octopus holding a few
select bottles of wine. My idea here turned out to be a bit too
ambitious, as the copper tubing I had chosen would not support a bottle
full of wine. And unlike in my studio, I supposed they were not going to
let me empty a few bottles there at the event. REDESIGN! A cake
decorator values her ability to stay flexible! (She values it even more
in her clients, am I right? Did I just hear an Amen?)
Now the good stuff...I've had a little sleep, and so has Large Marge,
and now I get to airbrush! (This, by the way, was my old work area. This
is why we are now in MAJOR RENOVATIONS! YAY!)
I added the suckers. They were like giant Smartees.
AAAANNND...Octocake! Now for a shower and some lipstick, and I will be back to immediately deconstruct her...
So there she is, coming and going! And though she lived a mere 30 or so hours, she will always be one of my favorites.
Today's post is a little less "this is how I did it" and a lot more
"this is what I've done". I'd hoped to have a post about the making of a
Scarlett O'Hara cake, but the fickle Miss Scarlett cancelled her party.
Well fiddle-dee-dee. I was going to do the green gown, but now it's
curtains. (I posted that line on Facebook, and I think everyone missed
the joke, but I'm not giving up...), and alas, there were no cakes these
past few weeks which I would like to show you the making of. There was
another Gucci purse with a yorkie, this time it had hundred dollar bills
in its mouth and bursting out of the purse. I love you all too much,
and frankly, I can't really explain that one.
But it did make me reflect on animal cakes I've done, and this brings me
to today's post. Animals are one of the most popular themes for cakes.
Everyone wants their dog made from something they can cut into and eat. I
guess. No one ever asks for their cat. Now there's a subject to
Bart Johnson recently created a series of drawings for an upcoming exhibition, “Explicit Content,”
a visual and sensory pictorial of the carnal aspects of human . (Show opens April 14, 2012 at the Mindy Solomon Gallery, FL).
Bart was kind enough to share his thoughts about the new work and points of inspiration.