I can only imagine that this will prove to be an ongoing conversation. I've touched on some of this before and expect to do so again.
Not every client wants cultured roses, hydrangea and cool greens. As a matter of fact, more and more often florists are thinking outside the box in an effort to create really memorable events. So must we, the cake decorators, keep up with the times. Not to mention, I love a challenge! When this cake first crossed my desk the request was simply "wildflowers." I had recently found a nice range of dusty miller cutters, so I knew that would be my base. The 60 mile drive from my home to Princeton NJ takes me by a lavender farm, and it was in full bloom when I was considering this cake, so lavender was a must. Talk about challenging, each bud is a tiny petal of purple wrapped around a paper stamen and taped into a stalk. I made cornflowers by layering two tiny daisy cut outs and anchoring them to a wire. The thistles were hand sculpted. There was no easy way around them, each one required snips with tiny scissors until they had the right "look."
I also tend to go back and "improve" flowers that for the most part everyone is quite happy with. Our peonies are the most popular flower requested at the shop save the rose. But they certainly started out with a different look and have evolved throughout my time here. After reading Naomi Yamamoto's Wedding Cakes book, I decided to use her half-sphere method to change the way I do my peonies. I started out with a ball, cut in half and mounted onto a heavy floral wire, then added daisy cut outs and layers to create the fringy center of the flower. (I did a version of this in my previous method as well).
I try to take notes as I go (as you may be able to see in the photos), but just as often I'm so caught up in process that I forget to write down what I did and have to walk myself backwards to document it.
The final peony, complete with wired outside petals (but before painting). The main difference is the center, I didn't change much from my method otherwise, though the end result is quite different.
Another challenge was a client who requested blue delphinium. I was not the least bit familiar with it, and had no cutters that suited the shape. I've made bell shaped flowers before, but morning glory and daffodils have fallen out of vogue, and it's been a long time. I used a basic blossom cutter, a veining stick and some fast thinking to produce them, though not without a lot of trial and error...
And some success, too.
A very special client (a previous member of the Pink Cake Box staff, in fact) ordered her elaborate wedding cake recently. Having worked in the events industry and "seen it all" her floral choices were quite diverse.
Damask roses have become a popular option for out-of-season brides who want a peony look when peonies are not available.
I made them in two sizes and added wired petals to a few of the largest. As I progressed, the flower centers became more complex. I'm looking forward to the next order and a chance to improve on them more.
Her "filler" flower was lisianthus, which I had not been asked to make at any point in my career to my memory. My main challenge was having it look distinctly different from the spray roses which were roughly the same size and color. I textured the petals and elongated the buds.
Finally, the double threat of whimsy and atypical wedding flowers -- succulents and astilbe! Luckily I had made both the lavender stalks and wheat fairly recently, which prepared me for the delicate, ice pink astilbe. The succulents required wired petals for all but the center.
Who knows what is next? But I'm looking forward to it! Every attempt only improves the final results.
Interesting in learning more? Check out our local cake decorating classes in Denville NJ, or our review of Nicholas Lodge's Mastering Sugar Flowers online class!
Anna is a classically trained sculptor and illustrator who started her career in cake decorating with Ron Ben Israel in 2000. Since then she has worked for a number of well known cake studios in the New York area doing complex sugar work and design. Her specialties include freehand painting,...
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