YOU WILL NEED…
– Cupcakes, cooled and ready to be decorated
– Frosting of your choice
– Fondant in white, black, yellow, and orange
– Food coloring in black (and yellow and orange if you need to color the fondant yourself)
– Corn starch or vegetable shortening (or both) to flour your surface / keep the fondant from sticking to your fingers and hands
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED…
– 2 1/4″ or 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter (these fit the top of a regular sized cupcake- the 2 1/4″ one leaves a tiny border– which is what I used in this tutorial–while the 2 1/2″ circle usually covers the entire top of the cupcake)
– Small rolling pin
– A smooth cutting board and / or silicone non-stick mat to work on (I put the mat onto the board)
– A cookie sheet lined with parchment or a second silicone mat to place the finished pieces as you work
– Toothpicks (to get the food coloring out and to paint)
– Brushes with a small, fine tip (you can pick up an assorted pack for cheap at Michael’s or Joanns. If the tips need to be finer you can cut them with scissors to thin out the bristles or make it the shape you’d like.)
– a knift with a small sharp point or an exacto knife
If you need to color any of your fondant, do it first, starting with the lightest color to the darkest. When you are done, wash your hands well and clean your surface so you don’t get any accidental smudges on your final pieces.
Start off by making the circle base/background for each of your decorations. I was making 9 cupcakes, 3 of each design so I needed:
– 3 white circles for Jack’s head
– 3 yellow circles for the cliff background
– 3 black circles for Zero’s background
Start with the lightest color first then finishing with the dark to keep any black from getting onto the white fondant.
Lightly dust your surface with the corn starch or get your hands a little greasy from the vegetable shortening. Then roll out the fondant about 1/8″ thick. Using your cookie cutter, press down firmly on the cutter then twist from side to side to make sure the cutter makes a clean cut. Remove the excess fondant and store it in some plastic wrap for later use. Carefully transfer your circles (use a knife or spatula to help you lift it up) onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or another mat. Now you can start working on the actual characters and scenes!
For Jack Skellington, start by shaping the eyes to attach to the white circles. I looked at pictures of him online and tried to imitate the shape. They are sort of rectangles that are rounded and uneven. This version of Jack is of a 3/4 view of his face, which is why the second eye is smaller. The second smaller eye is just a mirror reflection of the bigger eye.
Next, use a fine tipped brush that has been slightly dampened with water to paint on Jack’s nostrils and mouth with black food coloring.
The nostrils are just too short lines with the top tips leaning inwards.
For Jack’s mouth, first make his smile by following the edge of the circle, about 1/4″ in and paint that line from the mid point of his big eye to the bottom edge of the small eye. Then go back and add in the stitches which point in random directions and sometimes criss-cross to make an “x”.
ZERO THE GHOST DOG
For Zero, start by making a white circle with the fondant. (I wouldn’t recommend making it ahead of time when you are making the backgrounds because the fondant will start to crust and it won’t make a smooth cut when you try to cut Zero out.)
By starting with the circle, you can make sure to center Zero and take up the right amount of space on the background. Using the exacto knife or a regular knife, cut out the outline of Zero’s head, neck, and shoulders. Then go back and make the cuts for his mouth. Attach Zero to the black background with a little bit of water.
Zero’s ears are separate pieces of fondant, rolled out and cut, then attached with a little bit of water on the side of his head.
Then you can add the orange circle for his nose and cut an orange strip for his collar.
The last step is to paint in his eyes, jack-o-lantern nose, and the creases below his collar with black food coloring.
For the eyes, I like using a toothpick dipped into the food coloring. Sometimes you can touch the tip of the toothpick to the fondant and it makes a perfect circle. If it is too small, you can go over the dot in a small circular motion with the toothpick (indenting into the fondant is ok) and slowly make it larger and the size you desire.
For the jack-o-lantern, I also recommend using the tip of a toothpick to make the triangle eyes and nose and then a smiley curved mouth.
For the crease lines I used a brush with a very fine tip, slightly dampened with water, and drew the lines freehand.
JACK ON THE CLIFF
For Jack on the cliff, I rolled a piece of fondant into a long cone shape with the base being bigger and tapering off into a pointy end. Then I curled the tip in and flattened the entire piece. With the same cookie cutter you used to cut the backgrounds, I used that to trim the cliff edge so that the bottom would fit into the curve of the background easily. Add the cliffs to the yellow circles with a bit of water.
Then using a brush or a toothpick, draw the silhouette of Jack standing on the cliff. I used the movie poster as a guide.
Once you are done, I try to let the decorations sit for a few hours or even overnight so that it can set and the fondant hardens which makes it easier to place on the cupcakes.
When you are ready to place them, just ice your cupcakes and gently place then on top with a light push to make sure it sticks to the frosting.
I think one of the coolest things about making cakes is being a part of events that I otherwise wouldn’t get to experience, two of my favorites being weddings (not married) and kid’s birthdays (no kids).
This past weekend I was able to get super hands on with my friend Donna on her son Justin’s Dr. Seuss themed birthday. She came up with some great ideas to really get into the spirit of Dr. Seuss! It was exciting to see everything come alive, from idea to reality, to celebrate Justin’s first birthday.
I made him a personal 6″ vegan chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache filling and fresh strawberries. The cake was inspired by the one on the cover of the book Happy Birthday To You! with the white on top. The Birthday Bird, holding a cake with 1 candle, tops the cake and the entire thing is finished off a number 1 and red and white Dr. Seuss stripes on the cake board.
The Birthday Bird is made of gumpaste and fondant and details were painted on in black food coloring to give it the same sketchy look it had in the book. (Scroll down for pics of Justin digging into his cake– literally!)
For the guests, 100 One Fish Two Fish themed cupcakes were made. Some were vegan chocolate, some were vegan funfetti, and all were topped with blue waves of water and colored goldfish (which you can learn to make a vegan version here). I also made the cupcake stand, which consists of boxes wrapped in blue paper, stacked, covered in fish cut outs, and topped with the little sweets.
I found One Fish Two Fish coloring pages online and printed them out on colored paper which helped cut down on ink use and no need to color!
Here are more pictures and decorations from the party– it kind of made me want to have a Dr. Seuss party of my own!
Happy 1st Birthday Justin!
These Truffula trees were so fun to make! It was my first time making tissue paper pom poms and I followed this great tutorial by Beehive and Birdnest. I also really loved this tutorial that makes beautiful flowers out of IKEA napkins by Going Home To Roost! The tree trunks are made from large construction paper and the black is drawn in with markers.
All the food was inspired by Dr. Seuss books– like the oodles of noodles above from Fox in Socks!
Donna had this great idea of hanging cards of Dr. Seuss quotes from their patio! I copied pages from the books then printed quotes onto those pages and attached them to colored paper. The cards are hung with fishing line to give it more of a floating look. She also found these great spirals to dangle from the patio as well!
This quote card is my favorite :)
A fun Dr. Seuss style outdoor table with activities for the kids! The great striped fabric was found at IKEA and the Cat in the Hat crowns can be found on Etsy.
This was Justin’s guestbook, made with the Happy Birthday To You! book.
The poem inside was inspired by the one seen on Little Pumpkin Grace…And Hudson Too! We changed it up a bit to personalize it to fit what happened when Justin entered the world! Dr. Seuss scrapbook paper can be found at Scrampers and Jo-Ann’s.
It was a very fun day and I can’t wait for Justin to look back on his 1st birthday years from now and see what a great party his parents threw him!
As Dr. Seuss would say,
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
I had so much fun re-creating Justina and Justin’s wedding invitations into cake form for their big day! Their 2 tiered cake sits on a real tree stump base and is adorned with succulents, billy balls, and berries in their wedding colors, slate grey and a bright lemon yellow.
You can see more of J + J’s beautiful, creative, vintage, and unique wedding over at Real Weddings! One of my favorites from their celebration is the canvas guestbook where friends and family helped to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece to add to the couple’s art collection (slide 23 of 25). I am also really excited to share that the cake made it into this piece and you can find it on slide 24 of 25! It is so amazing as I have always been a HUGE Martha Stewart fan!
Here are some photos from concept to cake!
One of my favorite elements of the cake was Luda, Justina’s cat, who made an appearance– I love including our furry family members on the big day!
Thank you J+J for helping to provide meals and wishing you a lifetime of love, laughter, and happiness!
I have always loved art and painting– it’s such a wonderfully free way to be expressive! There are no right or wrong answers or such things as mistakes. The “mistake” can be covered up or re-done or that “mistake” might be the brush stroke or paint drip needed to take your piece to where it’s supposed to go. When I was younger, I thought I would become an artist and pictured myself sitting in Paris with an easel set up (I was very naive and young back then, like 4 years old lol).
I haven’t had the chance to paint in a long time so I love it when I get a cake order that is based on art and I get to do some “painting” on a cake! This one was perfect for the Halloween season and was a birthday gift to a big fan of Joshua Petker. It is decorated with vegan decorator’s icing as well as fondant…here is a look at my artist’s palette :)
I was not familiar with Joshua Petker’s work until I got this cake order, but I highly recommend checking out his site and taking a look at his pieces– I love his use color and his style, and how he can create this painting, that is pretty but creepy at the same time!
Here is the original painting, titled “Head Wound III”:
And here is the cake version:
We personalized it by adding the birthday boy’s age in the dripping black paint, and also his initials, “DSC”, in the painting.
Thank you Frank for this cake order, it helps to provide 70 meals for The EEC preschool/nursery!
Their cream cake is adorned with ombre flowers in their wedding colors. The cake is actually a display styrofoam cake with a small section cut out in the back to place a real piece of cake for them to cut into. It’s a great option if you’d like to have a beautiful cake at your wedding but want an assortment of desserts, have a lot ways to travel (get sheet cakes for serving), have an outdoor wedding and worried the cake will melt, or if you are doing a dessert bar and just don’t need that much cake! A display cake gives you a beautiful spread while allowing things to be a bit more flexible.
One of my favorite elements of cake decorating is making sugar flowers– I really enjoyed being able to create these flowers in the ombre colors which was something new for me!
Cherish and Steven’s cake also helps to provide 300 meals for the children at The EEC preschool and nursery in South Africa! Another reason to celebrate!
Wishing C+S a happy, loving, fun, and wonderful life together as husband and wife! (And loved their “love is sweet” wooden cake stand and delicate mobile hanging above!)
A few weekends ago I made a cake for a friend’s son’s 4th birthday! He is obsessed with trains so a Thomas the Train cake seemed perfect!
The cake was vegan red velvet with a vegan cream cheese filling, crumb coated with vegan decorator’s icing, then covered with fondant. The bottom part of the train is made by baking a 9″ x 13″ rectangle cake cut into the train shape, and the face is a 6″ round. With the extra pieces of “scrap” cake, I made wheels, covered them separately with fondant, then attached to the cake.
A portion of proceeds from this cake will be donated to The EEC and provide 80 meals for the children there!
Wishing Tyler a very happy birthday and an awesome year being 4 years old! :)
(Unfortunately I realized the name was going a little downhill after I snapped the pictures so please ignore that– I wish I had remembered to take another shot after I rearranged!)
And here are some pics of the Birthday Boy enjoying his cake :) My favorite is the one with him eating the cake but how Thomas’ face had been saved!
All work featured on Atiliay is copyright Olivia Lin and created by me unless otherwise noted. Feel free to use any of the photos or excerpts from this blog but please give proper credit and link back accordingly. It'd also be great if you'd email me and let me know what you've shared, I'd love to meet you, say thanks, and check out your space!