Friday, May 30, 2008

Cakes and Miniatures

This is a blog about cakes and miniatures.

My step-mother, H, also collects dolls and, more importantly, doll accoutrements. In particular, she collects “playscale” doll stuff (aka, the right size for Barbie) rather than the itsy bitsy miniatures that used to fascinate me as a kid in doll museums. Due to her interest in doll stuff, and her own interest in sculpting doll food she persuaded me to attempt making a miniature replica of a wedding cake I’d recently made. Most of the cakes I’ve done required a certain amount of sculpting so despite my relative inexperience in that art in a non-food medium, I decided to give it a whirl.

H helpfully got me a book on polymer clays and more importantly, she got me some basic tools and clays to get started. Basically, tinfoil can be used as an armature by making tinfoil base "cakes" and then one can treat the clay exactly like fondant and use it to cover and decorate the faux cake.

The first cake I attempted was a version of the art deco and paisley wedding cake sans the paisley elements because I thought they might be too ambitious in something this small. First I made the tinfoil "cakes" and covered them with clay. H helped me roll out the clay and make the tiny round ball borders.

Next I stacked the finished tiers together and added the detail work.

The next step was making the black and white lotuses. It was actually a lot easier sculpting polymer clay even though the scale was challenging because I found it to be a lot less sticky than fondant!

After that I had to make some choices. Although I really liked the original cake topper deco line drawing in royal icing on the wedding cake, I didn't think I could get it to look right at this small a scale. The contrast between the deco lotuses and the teensy line drawing would be significant. I thought something bolder would show up better so I opted for a different design. H can be shown holding her cake just prior to baking so you can get a nice visual sense of playscale.

My dad helped out by making the cake platform. It was a real family affair.

Finally, the finished and baked cake.

And the original wedding cake below for comparison!

The next miniature I attempted was one of Mr PB's favorites, the daisy cake as seen previously here.

First I added the stems. Then the flowers, color by color.

I couldn't manage the same level of details in the flowers for the miniature cake as I did for the original. The mini-cake was truly too mini.

Finally the finished cake.

The original real cake is below:

And here's the finished clay cake with a better scale, since I muffed the one with the measuring tape.

Finally, I made a miniature of a birthday cake I made for Mr. Pretzel Bender.

Here's Mr. PB's original cake. It was devil's food (what else?) covered in fondant and painted with a metallic blue luster dust with silver fondant damask-pattern like accents.

And the miniature cake below!

I have mixed feelings about making miniature cake replicas. They don't smell good (polymer clay smells like playdoh but saltier), they don't taste good er...can't be eaten.
I enjoyed the experiment, and will probably make more of these for H, but I think I prefer real cake because they can be enjoyed and then finished.
They don't last; I like that.


Blogger Lily Roth said...

I like your mini-cakes. When did you make them? Last Xmas?

With love,
Mrs. Lily Roth

Sun Jun 01, 02:22:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

divineH2O (aka "H") said . . .

Wow, those cakes look good enough to eat. I'll send you a picture of the Barbie bakery and the cakes I put in it. Your cakes, heh heh. Boy, those dolls have it good!

Sun Jun 01, 08:23:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Amanda J. Sisk said...

My mother sculpted tiny dolls and made doll houses when my twin and I were growing up - she also made wedding cakes for income. This is probably why I like making my art on a tiny scale and love to be in the kitchen, too (especially when avoiding the studio). I'm glad to see this post!

I vote for the real cakes for sensory reasons. Even though they disappear (yum!), you can document them and have a cake portfolio. The tiny cakes would be neat gifts for cake recipients, though...something to remember the real cake/event by.

Ask your dentist for his or her old tools. They throw them out often, and they make wonderful tiny tools. You could use them to poke or engrave designs into the miniature clay cakes. After baking Sculpey or Fimo clays, you could rub color ink or something into the grooves/design you created for contrast. May be easier than painting on a design or trying to do it with miniscule clay bits.

Tue Jun 03, 08:43:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Pretzel Bender said...

Amanda, thanks for the tips! I love the small scale stuff that I've seen on your blog although till recently I hadn't attempted any miniatures myself at all.

Tiny cakes as remembrances is something I've considered. I think as I get more into this art, it may well be something I attempt with a bit more regularity.

PS- I have a twin too!

Sun Jun 08, 10:29:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Amanda J. Sisk said...

I've had the honor of meeting your twin in London, and I look forward to seeing more of your inventions.

Fri Jun 13, 07:34:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous marly said...


I love your extravagance, and though I would prefer to meet it in edible form, I find these charming.

And you have a twin like Amanda... Amanda who is often mysterious but has left an interesting note here!

Sat Aug 02, 09:09:00 PM 2008  

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