It was another exciting year at the That Takes the Cake! Sugar Arts Show here in Austin, and I’m thrilled to report that I accomplished my goal in winning the Innovator Award. This was a new prize at the show, and as far as we know it’s unique in the cake world. It crosses all divisions and styles, and only one is given per show. Those applying for it have to be interviewed by a special panel of judges (this year it was Mike McCarey, Nicholas Lodge, and Mary Jo Dowling) and explain what you’ve done that’s new, what tool you’ve invented for what purpose, etc.
I submitted both of my entries below for the prize, and they chose the second one as the official winner although I’m fairly certain it was the general gummy technique that won the day. At some point I’m going to put some kind of badge or something on this blog to mark me as the official Innovator Award recipient for 2013. After all, experimentation in edible media is what this blog is for!
I will also be posting lots of in-progress photos and some how-tos, especially for the Gummy Fairy piece. I also have some gummy updates based on questions from my class. So stay tuned for all of that. In the meantime, you can see how to do the stained glass technique with my Flexible, Edible Stained Glass ebook or just enjoy the photos below.
This won Second Place – Adult Advanced – Tiered Novelty or Special Occasion. It demonstrates the use of the Flexible, Edible Stained Glass techniques mounted on a cake. The motif is based on the old-world elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, going up the cake in that order with each layer interacting with its neighbours. Some new adaptations of this technique included using a hair dryer to soften sheets for draping to fit curves, spreading gummy like glue to mount pieces on top of each other, using super-thinned gummy more like a gelatin application, and painting fondant directly with gummy. Again, more details and photos will be covered on this blog at a later date.
The Gummy Fairy at the Gummy Waterfall
This won Third Place – Adult Advanced – Special Techniques, although there were only three entries so I’m not sure the win really counts much beyond a gimme. I’m much happier about the Innovator Award, because this piece is definitely not your usual cake decorating! There’s a foam and foil support in the back part and in the large rock the fairy is sitting on, but otherwise the rest is entirely edible gummy. The fairy is solid gummy with no support other than the “water” sheets attached at the top and bottom of the waterfall, all of which is also gummy. Again, more photos will be coming later along with tons of information on how I made her so you can learn to make your own versions as well.
Here I am with my two medals and the silver frame that goes with the Innovator award:
I also taught a Craftsy Hands-On Demo to two groups of kids on how to make this little penguin out of fondant, and will be posting a complete how-to on this blog eventually as well:
Peo made a Peter Pan cake this year and her medal in the Junior Category was for “Most Nautical Cake”. I let her use one my boards that already had a flange mounted on it, and we cut a PVC pipe to her specified height. She made the cake as the ocean and a solid fondant ship (I had to talk her into putting it on a support, because she didn’t believe me that that much fondant would have sunk right into the cake). She also skimmed through my Fondant Figures 101 page and made her figures more or less using those instructions, including using the human figure printout for sizing.
She even made her sail out of gummy, which she cast and cut all by herself:
And here she is with her medal:
On Sunday morning of the show, I walked around and took photos of my favourite cakes. It just so happens that everything I liked enough for a photo won an award! Here are the ones I enjoyed and why (note that I don’t know the real titles so I’m just going with my gut on these):
Up – Second Place – Adult Beginner – Sculpted Cakes – Jessica Ewald
This cake inspired by “Up” isn’t the first one I’ve seen from that movie, but it is the first I’ve seen where there’s cake under the balloons. That’s very ambitious, especially for a beginner, and it was well done.
Penguins – First Place – Adult Beginner – Tiered Novelty or Special Occasion – Patricia Swarin
Patricia is one of our cake club members and core show planning team. I sat beside her at the registration desk on Friday and she wasn’t sure she was going to bring this in because she wasn’t finished. I urged her to bring it – even with less done than planned – to at least get her competitor goodie bag and some useful critiques from the judges. And then she went and won a first place medal! I love being right. And I love this cake.
OMG Look At Those Pins – First Place – Adult Beginner – Confections – Heather Fox
I was strolling by this cake when I had to suddenly go back and peer at the pins…because they’re made of gumpaste! I managed to talk to Heather after the show and complimented her on them. She said she made them with the very small hole plate on an extruder. Wow. So perfect and straight, so awesome!
Willie Nelson – First Place, Best of Division, and Best of Divisionals – Adult Intermediate – Sculpted Cakes – Natalie Elliott
Now we come to the cake everyone’s talking about from this show, because it went viral halfway through the show and for good reason. Look at this thing! That’s some serious talent right there. Natalie used modelling chocolate and she’s clearly very skilled at it.
I first noticed this cake on Saturday because as I was hurrying down an aisle, it looked at me and I felt that in the way that you feel a real person looking at you.
Natalie totally nailed it. Brava!
Here are her in-progress photos showing that it’s real cake in there:
Mexican Wedding Cake – Second Place – Adult Intermediate – Wedding Tiered – Erin Polonet
There’s lots to love about this cake, from the varied techniques to the overall lovely colour palette, but what drew my eye the most was that teeny tiny little bowl.
Flood Work Flower Mosaic – Third Place – Adult Intermediate – Special Techniques – Sandra Rolfing
Flood work is one of those techniques I’ve been meaning to try but haven’t gotten around to yet, so I’m always happy to see it. I particularly liked this one for the way that it looks like a bunch of nomable little shiny candies come together to make a flower. I have no idea if that’s a sensible thing to think or not, but I just really liked it.
Under the Sea – Second Place – Professional – Tiered Novelty or Special Occasion – Udele Pandya
This is a fairly common sort of cake, but I particularly liked this one because of the eel’s cave carved right into the side. It also is done well with nice airbrushing, and a good amount of sea stuff on it without being too busy.
Awesome Isomalt Display – First Place and Best of Division – Professional – Special Techniques – Lisa Berczel
I got into gummy because of a fascination with translucency, so how could I not love this piece? Isomalt is scary to me because of its expense, but after the show Lisa told me it’s not so bad when bought in bulk and she needed something rigid so she could paint on those gorgeous fish. I think I’ll stick to cheap gummy but love other people’s isomalt artwork instead!
Bathing Beauties Cupcakes – First Place – Professional – Confections – Sachiko Windbiel
How adorable are these? I meant to linger longer and take more photos of the astounding variety, but I kept getting interrupted and then ran out of time. In fact, I didn’t even notice some of the characters in there until looking at my photos while prepping this blog entry (hence some of the dark/blurry photos, sorry!). I’m not 100% sure, but I think there’s a Barack and Michelle Obama in there, a Marilyn Monroe, and some other famous folks. There are also some wonderful angry expressions, including an utterly delightful Grumpy Cat one. So much win all over this display!
Aviation: Heroes, Dreams, and Realities – Third Place – Showcakes – Patti Wright
Patti is also in our club and on our core show planning team. She showed me the sketch of her design in December and I was impressed, although I was also worried that it’d be hard to pull off well in part because she was worried herself. As the weeks went on she kept telling me how worried she was, how she didn’t think it was coming out well, etc., so when I saw her setting it up I was stunned at how great it was! Later in the show I told her that if I had my choice, I’d put her in the top five for sure, possibly even the top three. I was right, I was right, I was right! Woohoo!
In particular, I love that she could have supported that top piece with perspex or something else more sturdy, but by doing it with four bamboo sticks – which are then very nicely tucked into the piece with decorations – it makes it look much more like a real, floating balloon.
Amazing Eagle – Second Place – Showcakes – Brian Stevens
Early on in the planning for this show, I started hoping someone would do a wide bird wingspan cake. That’s hard to do, and Brian Stevens delivered! This is a gorgeous piece with a lot of dynamic motion implied even though it’s static, and I applaud his mastery.
Falcon – First Place – Showcakes – Kim Simons
I admit that at first glance, I didn’t think this would be the first place cake. I’m not keen on the double square look, but once it was pointed out to me how much insane level of gorgeous detail there was (which is difficult to stop and notice when you’re just running past things a lot), I definitely get why it won. I didn’t even see the hornet’s nest on the underside until Mike McCarey pointed it out to me. He then said, “You didn’t see that? You who make me look on the underside of your cakes for hidden nerdy stuff under there all the time?” Which of course was actually just twice, since I’ve only done two show cakes, but then I guess it was on every layer of those cakes…
Anyway, I wish I’d snapped better photos of the details, since most of what’s below just comes from a single photo. But the details are wonderfully done and one of these years I’m going to find time to look at things more closely!
That’s it for my photos until I have time for the specific posts as mentioned above. If you want to see all of the winning cakes, there’s a full slideshow available here.
Thanks to everyone involved with the show from my fellow volunteers to sponsors to competitors to the public. It’s the best, biggest show in the country because of everyone’s work and everyone’s love for cake.