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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dia de los Muertos Frida Kahlo Sugar Skull.

     It's that time of year again, Feliz Dia de los Muertos! The Mexican Day of the Dead tradition honors the dearly departed every November 1st with brightly colored sugar skulls and playful representations of death, celebrating the lives the departed lived, instead of just grieving their loss. I was thrilled to once again participate in the Sugar Skull Bakers cake and sugar artist collaboration, the brain-child of cake artsit Berry Rabago and graphic designer Yuki Navarro Guerrero. Check out the facebook page for more than 100 other interpretations on the theme by cake artists from around the globe! 

Here is my piece from last year

My piece this year had 2 main inspirations, the first being this  self portrait by Frida "La Venadita", which portrayed her as a deer, and I just love antlers, so I knew I had to add them.

My other inspiration was this beautiful piece by Audrey Kawasaki (check out her blog here for other gorgeous work) Those eyes just haunted me (in a lovely way :)

Because this was going to just be a display piece I opted to make a dummy cake with styrofoam, here is my styro with my reference skull (pretty nice shape and detail for a $6 skull I found at the grocery store of all places)

Adding modeling chocolate

Comparing the two, obviously my skull was still way too flat at this point, always have references!!

Then I added fondant and textured it too look like bone

For my antlers I attached wires to bamboo skewers, then covered with aluminum foil, and then masking tape (too make it easier for the modeling chocolate to stick)

Then the painting (a combination of gel colors thinned with vodka and airbrush food colors)

I spent so much time making the markings for the cranial plates I didn't want to cover them, but the more I looked at it, the more I knew she needed more "hair" and had to paint over the fissures :(

Ack! The antlers , even though being pretty lightweight with the foil , wouldn't stay upright.

I was pretty disappointed at that point, but the solution was actually pretty simple, I pulled out the antlers, and added another long skewer, when anchored at two points they couldn't swivel anymore :) 
She still looked pretty plain to me, but too be honest, I was pretty tired and in no mood to make sugar flowers, so a quick Google search turned up numerous tutorials for coffee filter flowers, and voila! Each flower only took me 5 minutes since I just airbrushed them. The blog I based my flowers on is here. I really wanted lit candles for these next shots, but I didn't want to set my living room on fire :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Woodland Fairy Cake

I will fully admit that when I heard the request for a fairy cake I was less than enthused, but then I realized I could use this as an excuse to model animals and it turned out being one of my favorite cakes so far. 

After some initial sketching I decided that this would be a woodland fairy cake, and her house would be a tree stump. My first step was to saran wrap some cake dummies the size I wanted my cakes to be. I then used rice cereal treats to make the tree limbs, using the dummies and board as my guides so I knew everything would fit together correctly.

I also used a pan on top to visualize how it would look altogether.
After the limbs were made to my satisfaction I covered them with a thin layer of modeling chocolate.
This cake was the first time I used the pasta roller attachment for the Kitchen Aid to roll out modeling chocolate - I absolutely loved it.! I mostly rolled my modeling chocolate to level 3 or 4 for this project.

My favorite part of this cake was making the animals. I began by smooshing rice cereal treats into the general shapes I wanted 

Defining the eye sockets :

First layer of modeling chocolate:

Second layer:
Adding an eye:
To start and model the features I rolled a thin sausage of modeling chocolate:
I used this for the eyelids:

Smooth the sausages with gumpaste of clay tools, this flat curved one is my favorite, I use it for everything:
I used this thin needle tool to give the fur texture:

I cut out an ear shape, and thinned the edges a bit with a ball tool:

Attach the ear with a little water, and then blend the seam smooth:

The "naked" unpainted little bunny:
Then I started on the chipmunk, who also had a base of rice cereal treats and was formed in the same way as the bunny. Here he is at the start of modeling:
Adding texture:
Here they are after their paint jobs , they were both painted using both brushes with dusts and vodka-diluted gel colors, and airbrushed




Now for the actual cake. To make the tree stump look right I wanted more height than the amount of cake I needed, so I used a styrofoam dummy underneath the cake, you can see I marked on it the placement of the rice cereal tree limbs:

After stacking, I started carving and tapering:
then I covered it with ganache:
Here is the base for my cake, which I covered in fondant. I airbrushed it brown, and then traced the outline of the tree limbs so I knew exactly where to place them later:
Here is the cake with limbs added, on the board. The blue is the backing for the double-sided duct tape I use to attach my ribbons. I find it easiest to apply the tape to the board right after covering with fondant, but I leave the backing on till the end, so the ribbon doesn't get dirty.
I gave the limbs a second layer of modeling chocolate, and also laid irregular bunched up sheets of it all over the stump.
I made a fondant disk for the top, textured it, and airbrushed brown. Then I covered the sides with another layer of ganache, nice and rough to resemble bark.
Cookie crumb "dirt"; I think the generic chocolate sandwich cookies have the most dirt-like color as opposed to the blacker Oreos.

I knew I wanted the stump mossy, but wasn't sure exactly how. I thought about royal icing, but that would have been really futzy. Through the miracle of Google I came across this post from the blog "peas love carrots" , where she used cake crumbs for moss. It had the perfect fluffy moss look I wanted. If I were to do it over again I would make one bigger cake to crumble, instead of what I did, which was make a dozen cupcakes with different shades of green. I did like the variation in color, but there wasn't much cake left after cutting away the brown, and harder to crumble little chunks. I ended up using a cheese grater
Another fun detail was the fairy door - I was going to use a texture plate (on the left), but I was rather underwhelmed by the results so I just used my handy dandy needle tool and doing it by hand after all :
Here it is after painting and with modeling chocolate stones added:

Now the fun part, sticking it all together. I also decided to add some tree fungus (also modeling chocolate)

I really love how the door turned out:
Here's the actual fairy , I threw away about 3 awful heads before I got this o.k. one, the wings wer wafer paper with a little disco dust on top