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.


Anonymous said...

Cool cake! Perfectly translate the couple into edible art! Sandra

Friducha said...

That cake made the reception! Everyone loved it. And it tasted as good as it looked. The cake was Michael's one big thing he wanted for the wedding, & you guys hit it out of the park. (-his sister)

Anonymous said...

Michael and Nicole, I missed seeing this in person because Warren and I were traveling but this is a memory you will always treasure and it sure is a super one.

Jany@SuperCuteCookies said...

The cake looks amazing! I just love all the details that you put into this cake.

Marian said...

We're a little bit late to this party, but one of our patrons noticed the post on Cake Wrecks and sent us your link. I'm Rick Allen's wife and creative partner and we are both thrilled with your adaptation of his work for the cake. Brilliant!

Our very best wishes to both the cake artisans and the happy couple...

R.N. Allen and Marian Lansky

Evil Cake Genius said...

Thank you for the kind words Marian. I never know how an artist will feel about us recreating his piece in cake. I adored both of the prints that the couple brought to me, and only hope that we did them justice.

cakebaker_cakemaker said...

As a novice cake decorator I am constantly awestruck by other decorators' skills and cake designs. However, I have to tell you that this cake and the story behind it has become my all time favourite. I am totally inspired by this cake..... It has moved me to soldier on to greater decorating heights...... Thank you for posting it.