A Spring Wedding Stylized Photo Shoot
Spring has sprung! Well, actually, I was skate-skiing in Gatineau Park today and spring has definitely not sprung there, but last weekend in Merrickville, ON at the Baldachin Inn, spring had sprung for Christie’s Cakes. Anna Jones Photography, Charmed Events Toronto/Ottawa, Sage Designs (flowers, linens, tables), Wishtree Invitations & Stationary Inc., Mandi Hutchinson (makeup artist), The Curly Red Head (hair), All That Glitters Bridal (dress), Akell Originals (jewelry) and myself, Christie’s Cakes, all came together to style a spring wedding photo shoot. Phew! That’s quite a list! Not surprising, really, when you think of all it takes to put on a real wedding…and we practically had a real wedding set up within the Baldachin’s ballroom.
So what is a stylized photo shoot? On the day of the photo shoot, complete wedding tableaus are set up by the various talented vendors and it all gets photographed by the amazing Anna Jones. It is a chance to show our creativity and make a wonderful advertisement in the process. If we do a good job, we will get published in a wedding magazine or blog. Mainly it’s a chance for me, the cake decorator, create my own design within the colour scheme and theme of the shoot. This an opportunity to try techniques that I may not get the chance to try otherwise as well as create elaborate sugar flowers. I think you can tell that I love sugar flower work the most!
Of course, in life things rarely work out the way you want them to. I had a plan for tiers of piped netting and scrollwork alternating with tiers of stencilled paisley prints. The paisley design fell by the wayside early in the design process because I realized that buying stencils that I may never again use, which I have done a few times already, is not economical when the cake is not being sold. I came up with a different design: appliquéd flowers, which better fit the “modern vintage” theme.
The day before the shoot I realized that the problem with the second part of the design plan was that my piping skills have always been mediocre because I don’t practice piping. Most modern cake designs involve minimal piping so I have not had to improve these skills. Although my memory is murky, maybe my original motivation was to finally improve my skills in that area, but with a full-time “real” job and many other things going on in life, I did not get around to practicing (or taking that Craftsy Modern Piping class by Joshua John Russell that I paid for!). This illogical decision led to me wasting more than two precious hours trying to pipe perfect strands of netting until the realization came upon me that I just couldn’t do it the way that I wanted to, which was, of course, perfectly! I wouldn’t say that I had a meltdown, but there were some moments of deep breathing and reciting, “Serenity now!”
After reaching my inner guru for a calm-ference call, I came to the realization that the cake would look beautiful and fit the theme of the photo shoot very well, if I repeated the pattern of appliquéd flowers in tone-on-tone yellow for the middle tier and white-on-yellow for the bottom and top tiers. I completely destroyed the bottom tier that I had been trying to pipe onto, so I took it apart and started over, and after that, it was smooth sailing, if a little tedious, to emboss the flowers and appliqué them onto the cake. If I hadn’t had to make real desserts for the sweets table of this imagined wedding, I might have actually gotten to sleep before midnight, too! However, the layered lemon cake with tart lemon curd and a dollop of whipping cream was probably worth the lack of sleep.
The colours of the cake were chosen to fit the theme of the spring shoot and the elegant stationary from Wishtree Invitations & Stationary Inc. provided the perfect colour palette. I decided to use ranunculus since Sophie from Sage Designs was using yellow ranunculus in the bouquets. There are no royal blue ranunculus in nature, but I’ll chalk it up to artistic license. I added a slightly green centre with a couple of rows of yellow petals to pull the colours together. I have to admit that colouring the sugar paste to get the dark blue ended in an epic fail. I remembered that I had a colour chart from Satin Ice…would you believe that getting the perfect shade of royal blue involved adding purple to the royal blue colour? It surprised me, but it really worked and the colour achieved once I started over was worth the work. As always, the colour was deepened with a dusting of petal dust, in Phantom Blue.
The craspedia (billy balls) were a fun addition, inspired by Pinterest boards, and I was pleasantly surprised that they turned out as well as they did. From photos billy balls appear to have different textures. I used a box grater to get a minimal texture on the sugar paste, which covered 1/2 inch styrofoam balls, and once dried, I dusted the balls with yellow petal dust.
When the final cake came together, I was relieved and very happy. Sometimes a change in design can lead to something much better and I do think that, in the end, this design fit the theme of the shoot perfectly – a happy accident!
This leads me to a final note. Recently on my Facebook page a poster noted that she wished that she could decorate like me. It came at a very appropriate moment to boost my spirits as I had just been complaining to my friend, also a cake decorator, that I often feel like I’ll never be as good as the cake artists whom I admire. When I look at some of the complicated and intricate work done by these artists, I despair that with a full – time job and a running schedule of 25 – 30K a week, I will never reach their level of artistry. However, when I finished this cake, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride and the surety that I would not change a thing about this cake. It was a great feeling.
And the layered lemon cake and lemon curd dessert that we all enjoyed at the end of the shoot was the icing on the cake!