Monday, October 6, 2014

Forever Cakes!

I love cake!

Who doesn't? 
(If you don't...don't tell me!!)

The one sad thing about cake, is eating it...not that the actual eating part is sad, its just that the eating part destroys the beautiful artistry part, turning it into a pile of crumbs and frosting swipes on an empty plate. There's no getting around it. That's just the way the story goes...

Sure, a tummy laden with sugary goodness, is the marvelous outcome, but what else? 


Nothing to show for the magnificent Cake-tastical-ness you just experienced...except for photographs and quickly fading memories.

So I had the idea (on many occasions) in the past, to create an "Eternal" cake. Hey, don't get fussy with me...I realize they most likely will not last eternally...but they'll come far closer than any baked cake you'll come across! 

To put my idea into action, for my parents 50th wedding anniversary several years ago, not only did I whollop my parents with a grandiouse surprise party that nearly gave them each a heart attack, I also created what I call a "Forever Cake" for them. I made it out of styrofoam discs, glued together, then decorated with silk flower blossoms and fun retro-style Wedding Couple on the top. 
(I will post a photo as soon as I get to my mom's and take one)
  My parents "Forever" cake was a big hit at the party, and still sits with honor, on their antique hutch in the kitchen, 10 years later!

When my BFF Tina's 50th birthday made its way to my crafty world, I needed to come up with something reeeeeally special for her. You see, My "T" is one of the most incredible people I know...overcome more hardships then I'd care to recall...and then she rose from the destruction and the ashes like a glorious Phoenix in flight! I love Tina more than any sister I might have ever had, if life had chosen to give me one through blood. 

For Tina's 50th celebration, she planned a tropical getaway for the family and close friends, to the heavenly island of Maui. With great disappointment, my beloved "Romeo" and I were not able to join them, as the Dodgers had made the playoffs, and his coaching position put a kabosh on any idea of travel. Once I stopped sulking, and feeling sorry for myself, I began plans for bringing the tropics, back to Arizona, in a "Forever Cake" for Tina.

Tina and I share a deep love for Hawaii. I traveled with my family as a child there, falling in love with the islands immediately, and then attended college on Oahu, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, meeting and falling deeply in love with my husband, Chuck (33 years and counting!!). 

Tina also loves Dolphin, so when it came time to decide on a theme for her "Forever Cake" was a "Piece of Cake"! 
(Hey now, don't think I don't hear your guffah on the pun!)

Assembling the Cake:

Styrofoam discs (4) size depends on your desired cake size
(I used 4 discs approx. 5" in diameter, purchased in packs of 2 from my local Dollar Tree store)

(1) Styrofoam ball approx. 2-1/2" in diameter (cut in half with a serrated knife or exacto blade) to shape the center of the "island"

Tacky Craft Glue
(I used Aleene's tacky craft glue in the gold bottle)

2-3 tubes of Acrylic Bathroom Caulking (Bright White)
(purchased from Home Depot in the paint section-construction tube: $2.88 each)

Acrylic Paint in various colors for "frosting:
(I used Liquitex Acrylic Paint in plastic tubes, but you can use any kind of Acrylic paint)

Plastic Toys, Beads, Metal Charms, Miniature Palm Tree (purchased from Hobby Bench store), shells, etc. and any decorations you want to use to achieve the theme you are going for on the cake top

Foam glitter stickers or other embellishments for the side of cake decorations

Several heavy-duty gallon size ziplock bags
(for mixing frosting & using as a "piping bag")

Non-stick surface to work on OR plastic wrap laid on a counter-top

Assembling the Cake:

First, glue the 4 styrofoam discs together, using the tacky craft glue. Allow to dry completely. If the discs are different sizes slightly, you can use sand paper to make them more even, but truthfully, the "frosting will cover any uneven areas.

Then glue one of the halves of the 2-1/2" styrofoam ball onto the top center of the cake. This will be the shape to form the island hilltop, which is easier then trying to mound the "frosting" manageably and evenly.

Next, I started temporarily placing the embellishments onto the styrofoam base, just to get an idea of where I wanted the items to live happily. Don't ask me how much anxiety I get when I find the best layout, and then have to remove them! 
(Hint: take a photo if you're afraid you'll forget!) 

Making the "Frosting"

Use a large heavy duty zip lock bag (do not take a chance on budget bags because the last thing you want, is caulking all over your counter when a cheap bag seam breaks!!)

If you have a caulking gun handle, use it! I didn't want to spend $6.00 to buy one (and forgot my hubby already had one), so my first two tubes, I just cut the tip off the tube of caulking, and used a heavy handled wooden spoon to push the bottom of the tube where the plunger part is. It took so much strength to squeeze out the stuff from the tube. OMG! I am still sore today from it! lol 

So my expert advice, is to ask your husband if you have a caulking gun handle!  My third tube was a breeze to empty into the bag, using the caulking gun.

Next, squeeze some paint into the bag, depending on how much "cake" you are frosting, adjust how much caulking you put into the bag. There isn't any real formula for deciding how much...perhaps if you have a friend who decorates real cakes, they can share their suggestions for quantities that it takes to frost a certain size cake. The amount of paint you use depends on the intensity of the color you are going for. I used three different colors of blue paint to achieve a varigated blue color for the water. I didn't mix it completely so that it kept the various striations of color. 

For the sand I blended the colors so that they were a uniform color and completely encorporated with the caulking. You can also purchase colored caulking in natural colors if you prefer not to have to blend your own colors.

Once the sand color was blended, I cut a small point off the corner of the plastic bag to begin applying the sand frosting to the top of the cake. I glued the palm tree in place first to make sure it was located where I wanted it to be, and I frosted around it, just squeezing the caulking evenly over the styrofoam to make a smooth "sand" type of appearance.

While the sand is still wet (it will begin to dry quickly on the outside, so don't wait too long before applying your cake top decorations.

I added a ceramic Hula Dancer bead, a metal Castle charm with the loop nipped off (sanded smooth with an emery board) that I painted with 2 coats of gold glitter nail polish, tiny seashells, a beach-chair charm (loop removed), and a few flower bell beads that I glued a crystal into the center, a sea turtle charm, and a mermaid charm (with loop nipped off). 

Next I added a small band of white caulking to border the edge of the sand. This is to look like the waves foaming on the shoreline. Using my blend of blues I made the water color, using approx. 2 tubes of caulking to complete the entire cake surface and circumference. I completed the top of the cake with an additional border of "water" frosting, making sure to leave a place for the mermaid, sea turtle, and the surfer. 

When frosting the cake, be sure to do the top first, then allow it  to dry for 12-24 hours. The caulking is rather heavy, and if you try to do the whole cake at one time, theres a good chance it will start to droop or fall off the sides. To combat this, I did the top first and allowed it to dry so that the next additions would kind of grab onto the previously dried caulking. 

For frosting the sides, you may be tempted to raise the cake onto a pedastal that allows the cake edge to hang over for easy frosting access...DO NOT DO THIS!! I tried it and had an entire side of frosting fall off the cake as it slowly drooped and fell off! The heavy weight of the caulking requires some planning.

Once the top frosting was dry, I began to apply frosting to the side of the cake. I started at the top edge and made looping ribbons of frosting to look like waves and the motion of water. I suggest putting your cake on a moveable plate or tray so you can easily rotate it for access. 

While the sides are still wet, press the foam sticker accents into the frosting. You may need to go back over each sticker, pressing it into the caulking if the edges pop out a little bit. The caulking surface will begin to dry quickly, so apply your embellishments as soon as possible, or  you will have trouble making them stick. 

Another option is using E600 glue to apply the accents once the frosting has dried, but it won't have the inset appearance, and will not look as much like a real decorated cake.

For Tina's special celebration, I included a rhinestone "50" on the side to commemorate her monumental birthday. I didn't put it on the top of the cake, because I want her to be able to display it all the time, and not feel like it was specifically for that particular party. 

Another "Happy Accident" is the hole in the Dolphin bead on the cake. Originally I tried to think of a way to fill up the bead hole, as it bothered me...but when I realized it was the perfect place to put a thin birthday candle, it was ideal!

To finish off the "Eye Candy" display...or "Eye Cake" if you want to get technical...Place it on a paper doily atop a beautiful glass plate, or cake pedastal. I am sure you will have more than one visitor that will want to take a big swipe of "frosting" off the cake!

Have fun making your own Cake-tastic Creation, and be sure to come back and tell me all about it!!

With Sugarplum Hugs!