Although I was asked to design another cake for Cake Central Magazine, there were so many problems photographing this cake that I never expected it to make it into the winter Issue.
I received a beautiful inspiration print of Christmas trees and birds in an open winter field of hills and snowflakes (below). The colors were white, a variation of gray-green, red and black. I sat down immediately to sketch.
The idea was to design a cake that depicted larger birds decorating a central tree but it evolved into something else. I wanted this cake to be one that could actually work for a Christmas wedding and as I delved deeper into the design, I realized that the larger birds were becoming too central and fit less with the design elements that were inflexible. I wanted a white-on-white bottom tier and a white-on-white top tier. Those were not to be changed. The two middle tiers were to have the feeling of the inspiration piece without becoming a replica. The second tier was to have the feel of snow covered hills in graduated colors of white to green. The most influential tier (the focal tier) was to start with the darker green and graduate five steps into white to pick up the top tier seamlessly.I'
To have kept the larger birds would have diminished the central theme; the large Christmas tree. And so I drifted away from the original sketch and made something thatII can see very clearly at a winter wedding. It would be a room themed with pine trees, silver, crystal, twigs, mistletoe and tree trunks lightly sprinkled with bursts of snow and tiny white lights.
The birch trees on the cake framed the snow filled pine trees, arbor, twigs and tree trunks perfectly. And the reindeer with flower wreaths around their necks were absolute favorites of mine.
Once completed, I staged the cake (it was too white to have a neutral background) against a dark brown wicker armoire that had been decorated with mistletoe, thick garlands and crystals. I thought it looked beautiful. I shot 100 photos and sent 10 or 12 to Cake Central. Soon thereafter, I received an email that all the photos were out of focus. They wanted the cake for the winter issue but I needed to hire a professional photographer. I guess that means I failed the on-line photography course!
Easier said then done to find a photographer with a four day window. I contacted a few but it wasn't easy. Then I remembered the most incredible woman from a magazine in which I hoped to advertise. She came through with a photographer that was more than willing to take a reduced fee in exchange for a photographer's credit if the cake were published. Sounded great! It wasn't. He's a lovely young man, and that's all there is to say.
Winter 2013 Cake Central Magazine
I tried again to photograph the cake myself by placing it outside and used photography quick-tips found online for clear, crisp shots. I followed the requirements laid out by Cake Central; no shadows, 2 shots of the full cake and multiple close ups; not shots that were taken from afar and then zoomed in, but actual close ups.
In the end they printed one shot, taken by the photographer but forgot to give him the credit. I contacted the magazine and to my surprise, their next issue showed my cake again with all the close up shots along with the photographer's byline. Subscribers contacted the magazine asking for more details regarding my cake.
And very recently (2016) a lovely cake designer from the UK had a bride-to-be walk into her studio asking to copy my cake for her upcoming winter wedding. The cake artist (Debbie) sent an email to me asking if she could make a similar cake taking only a few elements from my design (cake designers do not like to copy the work of other artists). I was thrilled! I told her to copy the whole thing! Let's make the bride happy. And what an enormous compliment to me. I only wish I could be there, to lend a hand and to see the expression on the bride's face when she sees her cake. Wouldn't that be lovely.
My first publication!
I was thrilled to be asked to work with Cake Central Magazine.....the extraordinary, internationally read bible of magazines dedicated to all things Cake.
I was given this incredible creation by Valentino to use as inspiration for my cake design. I immediately went to Valentino's site and watched the online fashion show. This dress was truly the highlight of the show.
To say this endeavor was fun, easy or satisfying would be an absolute lie. I had a very short timeframe in which to work, and ideas were not flowing. I was overwhelmed from the beginning. I had wanted to see a cake of mine grace the pages of Cake Central from the arrival of my first issue, when the magazine was still being produced in print. But this was huge for me and I felt the weight of the assignment. It would be my first opportunity to be published and the pressure was horrendous. First- timers must go through this. I can't be the only one to feel as though I had been thrown from the roof-top of a 40 story building.
It took a great deal of effort to create even the smallest design elements that made sense. The design of the cake had to project the feel and essence of the dress. Every drawing was a disappointment. Every design fragment, although a rough translation of the inspiration piece, missed the mark. It became difficult to look at the drawings and the dress, and more difficult to know where the drawings were taking me. Then I took a big step backward and looked at the dress from afar. Remembering something learned many years ago in high school, while designing a final-exam project, I dissected the dress. I made a graph of wide vertical and horizontal lines on top of my printed copy of the dress and then studied each section on its own.
In the end, I produced something that was good enough to be included in their biggest, most anticipated issue of the year; the 'Fashion' issue. It was pure joy when I received the email message,
"Congratulations!" I couldn't believe it. It was a wonderful, unforgettable moment and quite the learning experience.
I always walk away from a project learning something new. What could be better than that?