Saturday, February 25, 2012

Surprised by Love

"Like the bumptious meadow vole, the heart in its striving course is very often surprised by the sudden arrival of the Great Horned Owl of Love" -R.N.Allen
And so it happened. At least that's how Michael described it.

In my line of work, you talk about love a lot. How'd you meet? How'd you fall in love? How'd you know they were the one?

But Michael's take on love was summed up perfectly by this painting by R.N. Allen. Turns out, he was unsuspectingly blindsided by love. "Does that make Nicole the Great Horned Owl?" I asked. Well if the shoe(talon) fits...

When I met with Michael and Nicole, I could only take one more wedding cake for the weekend of their wedding. I had two couples to meet for that one spot, but it didn't take long for me to decide that I wanted these two to fill out that weekend.

When they came in, they brought a copy of their invitation. It was illustrated (by Michael's sister) with a bear and an owl. The bear and owl captured the spirit of their relationship from the get-go. And here's how it went.

Michael and Nicole had taken a trip up to the North Shore early in their dating. They were in a gallery, looking for some pieces by a family friend, when they were both drawn to one particular artist's work. That's where Rick Allen comes in. It was his prints, The Great Horned Owl of Love, and Burntwood Black, that captured the hearts of this couple. So much so, that they bought both pieces, and they remain in their home as souvenirs of the beginning of their relationship.
Not all of us are this lucky. While we all have our love's origins, they aren't always so incredibly helpful in designing a wedding cake. If that were the case, my wedding cake may have taken the form of my 19 year old ass in a pair of jeans (no, literally, just my ass) as my dear husband first took notice of me as I was bent over my roommate's fish tank in my dorm room. See, not terribly cake-able.

But back to a significantly more classy couple...

Michael related to the calm, lumbering bear in the Burntwood Black Painting, while Nicole was clearly the cunning owl. With a few tweaks to the design, the two paintings would combine to make one spectacular cake. We expanded the tree to the silhouette of the tree on their wedding invitations, and upon Nicole's request, made the owl a bit less menacing (after all, love had already done its swooping). Michael suggested keeping the "Surprised by Love" text on the bottom tier, but also thought to add their names in the woodcut pattern on the sides as an hommage to the artist's tendency to hide his own name in his work. We couldn't help but to keep our poor unsuspecting Vol somewhere on the cake, so we stashed him on the right side of one of the tiers...he deserves to see this happpy ending.

But one problem loomed over us. What kind of cake stand would be worthy of such an awesome cake design. I immediately gravitated toward wrought iron, and while our dear Magic Phil, certainly could deliver on this, it turned out, that Nicole's dad is a welder, and was creating wrought iron candle holders for all the reception tables. I quickly volunteered him for the task of creating the cake stand. Not only would it match the candle holders, but it would make a great keepsake for the couple if it were made by the bride's father.

Armed with the prints, I recognized the need for some professional help (no, not that kind) on this job. So, I brought in my trustey TK. Honestly, a cake decorator is only as good as their friends who will work for cake. TK fits this profile, he's a good friend, with incredible graphic design skills, and a voracious appetite for all things cakey. Good thing, too, because this project would take a lot of time. He built me a tree from the ground up, and created the couple's names in wood-block, he even got rid of the owl's crazy eyes. Armed with his artistic edits, we created the cake out of a mixture of frosting screen printing, airbrushing, and Jenna's mad fondant mitering skills.
We delivered the cake on a Sunday. A cake-decorator's only day off. Typically, I take these Sunday deliveries with my butt-loving husband in order to give the Gateaux girls a day off, but this cake was so cool that Jenna couldn't help herself, and volunteered for the shift. When we arrived, the wrought iron cake stand was waiting for us. Nicole's Dad hit it out of the park! Keepsake, schmeepsake, I wanted to steal it, but who am I to piss off a Bear and a Great Horned Owl?

Michael and Nicole were gracious and dare I say ecstatic about their cake. When I asked Michael to email me some photos of the cake for the Blog, this is his explanation of the cake cutting photo. "I had a very very hard time bringing myself to cut the cake. I feel like I spent minutes agonizing over where to cut into it before finally willing myself to cut into it on the back of the bottom tier, where I would notice it the least. Once I started cutting Nicole had to press down because I was so torn. It was wonderful, and absolutely delicious, but I never thought cutting the wedding cake would be that nerve wracking." Did I mention how much I love this guy?

As I was leaving the reception, Michael called me aside and handed me an envelope. Here's what was in it.
I carry it in my wallet. Never know when you're going to get pulled over for drawing naked people.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


"Fashion fades, only style remains the same."
Coco Chanel

"Never trust a cake lady who can walk in heels."
Evil Cake Genius

I've never understood Fashion. Take it from the other cake girls, the Cake Lady ALWAYS loses the Project Runway pool at Gateaux. ALWAYS. I guess, when you spend your days working in long sleeve thermal t's and yoga pants, you have other priorities besides fashion.

That's why I love that quote from good old Coco. You see, even the most astute fashion minds, the icons of the industry understand that there is something inherently deeper than what is currently in vogue. Something that transcends yoga pants and bad hair days, and the Cake Lady has it (or at least she borrows it from her clients from time to time). The Cake Lady has style.

That's why, when I first spoke to Laura-Leigh's mom Christine, I knew we'd be perfect together. Turns out, Laura-Leigh, and Christine have that rare gift of possessing both fashion sense and style. And these fortunate few are the architects of some of the most chic and timeless cakes that we do.

Christine described the event decor as "Not French Country, more Paris Flea Market". I instantly conjured up visions of Belle Epoque Metropolitain wrought iron and stone, the height of style...the kind that Coco speaks of, the kind that never fades. And Christine and Laura-Leigh delivered.

The color palette of soft champagne, black and Ivory set the stage for a timeless beauty. With the added drama of textural floral, linens, and candlelight, we had ample fuel for the cake-fire.

The definitive elements for the cake were the textures in the floral and an incredible motif from the wedding invitations. Coupled with a french lattice pattern imprinted on the cake and tiny little Fleur de Lis (Paris, after all...not Flea Market, leave off the first word of that phrase, and you have a whole different meaning). And what better to top this not-so-moveable of a feast? How about a vintage bride and groom cake topper. Bride and groom cake toppers are the epitome of that Coco Chanel quote. You see, whether or not they are currently fashionable, the truly well done ones, the vintage, bisque porcelain-beauties, are always in style. Especially when it belonged to the bride's grandmother.

A more timeless event, I can't remember. And once again, my clients made me look so much more chic than I'll ever be. So, thank you Christine and Laura-Leigh...maybe next year, you'll teach me to walk in heels!

Once again, the Fabulous Olive Juice Studios provided us with some absolutely incredible photos of this truly elegant affair.

Decorator's Notes
Laura Leigh's cake was a joy to decorate.  We really had the opportunity to play around with texture on the tiers. 
Quilted Tiers
We imprinted the quilted tiers with a quatre foil shaped cookie cutter.  I couldn't find one on the market, so I made my own using this kit

Textured Tiers
These tiers were fun to make.  We simply dumped out our drawer of flower cutters and mixed and matched different sizes of 5 petal cutters to layer together to cover the tiers.

Baroque Patterned Tier
This baroque pattern was too intricate to replicate using a stencil, so we shot a silk screen for it.   We screen printed a thin sheet of fondant with black royal icing, and then cut out around the pattern.  We wet the back of the fondant, and attached it to the fondant-covered tier.  You can buy this exact screen on our Evil Cake Genius site HERE