I thought this sweet baby cake would be a great example to show the process I go through with my clients in designing their cakes. It really isn't anything earth-shattering but the design aspect of cake making is really one of my favorite parts...so, I'll share this one with you.
My client emailed me a picture (this is just a detail) of her baby's special quilt, delicately embroidered and appliqued. I loved it from the start! Exactly my style with the vibrant colors, the little curls of the branches, and all the itty bitty animals everywhere. Acorns, a bird's nest, butterflies, ladybugs...all quilted and sweet!
After I gather information on style and size, I sketch out two or three cake designs. Although, I felt like I could have taken this one about 10 completely different directions. I guarded my already divided time and settled on two ideas to present to my client.
Option 1: The hand-painted tree background goes all the way up the cake. This one mostly resembles the quilt. It is delicate with lots of little details. It also looks more like a picture, with the green grass at the bottom and the full tree. All of the leaves, acorns and most animals are then 2-dimensional "quilted" appliques on the tree. The exceptions would be the yellow bird topper, the coral squirrel on the middle level and a few butterflies and dragonflies.
Option 2: This cake is less delicate and more stylized. The tree is only on the bottom tier and is made out of thin swirls of gumpaste, slightly three dimensional, instead of being painted. The larger grey areas have stitching along the edges to duplicate that "quilt" feel. Some small branches and a "1" are wrapped around the second tier. All the elements are flat on the cake except the owl and mushrooms on top and the acorns on the bottom. Another option is to have other small creatures interspersed among the acorns to break up the brown and create interest.
And my client chose...(da, da, da, daaa) Option 2! I think it turned out pretty cute. I ended up placing the little animals around in the acorns. I like how it brightened the browns and tied in the colors from the rest of the cake.
You can see the stitching on the branches and the leaves. I actually did stitching on the animals too. For the acorns I decided on a puffy patterned top with stitching all around, maybe giving the allusion that they are plush, quilted acorns. Why anyone would want plush quilted acorns, I don't know, but it seemed to fit the theme! And I actually really like the effect.
I purposely made the acorns all different sizes so it would look very organic and handmade.
The owl was so adorable! I pressed feather patterns into the wings and belly and added stitching down the "seams". The mushrooms added the perfect touch of whimsy to the baby cake.
Well, that's all, folks! I hope you enjoyed seeing the step by step pictures of this cake design. Maybe I'll have to showcase some gumpaste modeling tutorial pictures sometime. I get so caught up in just getting my cakes finished that I very rarely stop to take pictures. We'll see...