It began with Lauren's first birthday, where I made a Bear cake. Toothpicks were involved, to get some of the various limbs to stick together. Sketched on paper, and then free-handed with a knife. One rectangular pan and a circular pan. The cake *cough* suffered a little in transit, as the bear's arm shows:
The next year was a Bunny cake, photographed in our new house's living room. This was before I realized that room was like a cave, so the color is terrible. Frosting this particular cake nearly drove me nuts. A friend suggested freezing first to keep the crumbs from rising into the frosting. My cakes are too big for the freezer, but refigerating them helps. So does an actual frosting spreader instead of a table knife:
Two cakes in 2000, for Lauren's 3rd birthday and Christopher's first. Hers was an Ocean cake, where the big orange fish (and its eyeball!) were in high demand:
Christopher's was a Bear cake that year, decorated to parallel a sketch that I made. All cakes are sketched in the planning stages. As they get fancier later on, you'll see that this is partly to figure out where to put all the "stuff":
2001 had the first incarnation of the Beach cake for Lauren (which I improved greatly this year from the first version here):
And for Christopher, the beginnings of the 3-D concept in cakeage. The volcano was made with various-sized cupcake pieces (we have 3 sizes of muffin tins). I've improved on this technique, but more later. Here is the Lost Dinosaur Valley cake:
Their 3rd and 5th birthdays were in 2002. Lauren had a Butterfly cake, where I went nuts on the props. The "mushrooms" are pastel non-pareils with taffy stumps, and the bridge over the river is made with Twix:
Christopher's cake was a Circus Train cake. I made the circus tent and ticket booth and banner out of paper. The bleachers were Kit-Kat sticks, and the circus was in Gummy Bear town. Across the valley were the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs and trains made lots of appearances in Christopher's cakes-- he loves them both:
In 2003, Lauren wanted a "Neverland" birthday cake. She wanted a Tinkerbell-themed party, but the cake was supposed to be Neverland , whatever that meant. I didn't think I could pull it off, but then I got inspired. The extra batter (the large pan holds about 2 1/2 boxes of mix) went into a round cake pan. This was used to make the "mainland." Teepees (mine) and mermaids (Lauren) were made out of paper. I couldn't find a Tinkerbell (even on ebay!), but a set of parallel stickers on a pipe-cleaner actually worked better, as she could fly over the cake then. The ship was from a set, which included the very out-of-scale Peter Pan and Captain Hook. During the actual party, one of the cats swiped the green plastic Peter Pan off of Christopher's plate and went under the deck with it for awhile. We really don't know why:
Christopher picked a Thomas The Tank Engine cake. The engines were from a set (the bridge was separate, from a cake store). I made the barn (which Christopher would not part with afterward-- it was part of his train set for two years!). The train tracks were licorice, because I used black tube frosting the year before and that did not work well. Notice that Percy's track has derailed him right into the barn fence...
In 2004, Christopher chose a Dinosaur cake, which had vast quantities of lava. There were candy rocks and you might glimpse the doomed dinosaur caught in the lava flow. This cake featured new and improved Volcanoes! The secret to good volcanoes is to use waffle ice cream cones and break off the tips:
Lauren had a Hello Kitty theme. Her cake used several of her Hello Kitty playsets-- I made separate "worlds" in the corners of the cake for the various sets. One was the Flower Kitty, one was the LadyBug Kitty, then the Strawberry Kitty and the Mermaid Kitty. Fruit rollups ("fruit leather" in other parts of the world) made up the bases for the toys to stand on, so they didn't get frostinged too much:
In 2005, Christopher and Lauren shared a party at Pump It Up (a jump-house place), and also a theme cake: Shark Boy and Lava Girl (from the movie that was out that year). I found a Lava Girl at Goodwill, but after several trips I still couldn't find a Shark Boy. I had to use Laffy Taffy and a Polly Pocket boy to make him, with the taffy forming his hair and his pointy shark vest. This cake also included a treasure island, a secret hideout, and because it was Lava Girl after all, there were once again volcanoes! Maybe I'm the one that likes volcanoes:
I posted pictures of Lauren's Harry Potter cake last year (2006). The props involved a pipe-cleaner for the Quidditch field, and parts of an Imaginext dragon set for the tree, gate and dungeon. Plus, the Goblet of Fire!:
Christopher had a Pirate Cake, which re-used the Peter Pan pirate ship props (I lost the ship and had to buy a new one, for crying out loud) and a bunch of Imaginext Skull Island props:
For this year, we had the Football Cake for Christopher. This mostly involved a kit, though I used mini-Candy Kisses to make the "fans." The football was a chocolate-covered peanut. In the endzone were dolphins and bears, because those are actual teams (as opposed to Worms or Frogs, and the Sharks are hockey and not football). The lines on the football field were the worst-- if they made white licorice I'd have used it, because the squeeze tubes of this stuff are impossible. Even with microwaving, it would not come out. Argh!
Lauren wanted another Beach Cake, and this one was much better than the first time. I re-used the people from the original kit, but the props were key. The sandcastle stuff is from Littlest Pet Shop, and the deck chairs are part of a Polly Pocket set:
This one's the only non-birthday cake in the bunch: Halloween Fantasy Cake, created for a cake-decorating contest at Lauren's school carnival and auctioned off afterwards:
The "before-and-after" poisoned apples are probably my favorite parts of this one. I could not find the figurines I wanted, and had to make them out of Pez dispensers, cloth, and a glue gun. That's dedication, I tell you!
Lessons learned: mini-playsets rule, candy props rule, and save a little extra of the main frosting colors in case of last-minute surface damage. :0
And there you have it! The portfolio is bigger than I thought.