Saturday, June 25, 2011

Food Imitating Art. ♡ Wayne Thiebaud

This is for everyone has ever looked at Wayne Thiebaud's paintings of cakes, mouth watering, longing for the paint to be icing, and for the icing to be eaten...
(and really how could you not?)

We made some of the cakes, from one of his paintings, out of, well... cake! and icing! (And then, we ate it too.)

(above) the baked Cakes, photographed by Gail Albert Halaban.
Eggs & flour & sugar & butter & chocolate on boards.

(above) The Painting: Cake Window (Seven Cakes) 1970-76
Oil on Canvas. 48 X 59 3/8. Signed and dated bottom canter: ❤ Thiebaud '70-'76
Private collection, New York
(You 'gotta love a man who signs a painting with a heart.)

Its funny. Everyone seemed to want a piece of the cake they could see the inside of all night long. Even though it wasn't the only chocolate cake on the display, and even though I tried to explain it might not taste as fresh because it had been cut open for hours.

When it came to painting the wooden board that the cake stands would be attached to, I started painting on the blue "shadows" with food color, because that's what I always paint with. My friend Erin thought that was hysterical, it hadn't even occurred to me to use actual paint. Its a little difficult and expensive to paint on wood with food color... and in the end the acrylic paint did prove to be a much better way to go.

My friend, Gail Albert Halaban (above, getting ready to photograph cakes), is an amazing photographer. Gail has been exploring the world of kids and food through photography for years. She's also a very enthusiastic ally, and her encouragement and willingness to photograph the cakes is a key reason they were made.

Wayne Thiebaud's (pronounced Tee-bow) work is a natural to introduce kids to art.
I love these children's books: “Delicious: The Life and Art of Wayne Thiebaud,” and Counting with Wayne Thiebaud text by author Susan Goldman Rubin

The National Gallery of Art even uses Thiebaud's work to help teach kids math: Counting on Art, Frosted Fractions

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gift Boxes Cake

Here's the thing I've learned about making Bar and Bat Mitzvah cakes, (kinda the hard way):

Make sure up front that boy or girl receiving the cake is on-board with the basic idea of the cake. This is a cake that was supposed to be a big Sand Castle cake. It turned into a stack of Gift Boxes Cake when the birthday girl caught wind of the sandcastle idea about a week before the event...(which is not unlike my story about the cake that was supposed to be a Snow Globe that turned into a
Lord of the Rings Cake)
So, scrap the sandcastle advance work, take a deep breath, and figure out an arrangement of boxes that has some playfulness and energy. After scavenging every box I could get my hands on and several failed attempts, here is our model:

and then, my favorite part, details, details, details:

Patti Paige and I worked on the cake together for about a week.

*P.S: I'm in ♡love with the whale room at the Museum of Natural History, so when we get a job that is going to be there, like the gift boxes cake, its extra exciting!

Saturday, June 18, 2011



THANK you to Patti for the cookies and cookie ideas! Cookies covered in royal icing (dry overnight) and decorated by (sweet) hand in food color markers.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yoda, on top of the Empire State Building, Cake

The Empire State building has taken hold in the imaginations of a class of first and second graders in Manhattan. They've studied it, built it, drawn it, and written stories about it. This probably goes without saying, but so has Star Wars. I guess it was natural that these two things get together, like Salt N Pepa or Fred and Ginger.
I ask, "what kind of cake do you want for your birthday this year, honey?" "HOw about the Empire State Building... with King Kong! No, wait... Yoda on the Empire State Building---Master Jedi, Yoda from the Clone Wars, in battle, not the Yoda from the first Star Wars Movies."

...but THIS is my favorite part.
There's so much to do to plan and set up a party, and I always find myself scaling back and cutting my losses at some point. No time to make the "Wookie Cookies" I was planning, or the cookies for a cookie decorating activity for the kids. So, why not kill two birds with one stone, and have the kids finish decorating the base board of the cake with the food color markers bought for decorating the cookies. I can not tell you how sweet and enthusiastic the kids were about participating in this way. (Running late is so the mother of invention at our house .)

I was also informed that Yoda would never be holding a blue lightsaber, so OK, here's some glittery green food color and a paintbrush... go for it! I love this. Next time I want to make a cake designed specifically to be colored in and painted by the kids.

We love the cut out your own Clone Wars masks as an other party arts and crafts activity.
Download Masks Here.

I'd like to say that crazy great reaction is all for the cake, but really the cake sparklers were pretty cool and exciting!

Yoda Cake/ Empire State Building Cake sketch

(I see a trace of Saturday Night Fever in my Yoda.)

I'd like to acknowledge my models: the LEGO Empire State Building and 3" plastic figurine of Yoda... Clone wars Yoda, that is. (and the Yoda plush toy of course:)

Clone Wars in NYc