Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Cheshire Grin

This one went a bit lopsided, but it's amusing just the same. It was too hot to hang out making too many small marshmallow fondant decorations. If I had it to do over again, I'd go with a 1/4 size black and white checkerboard with green cake pops decorated with tiny red flowers... a Red Queen's garden on the chess board.

This is only my 3rd attempt at playing with this homemade fondant. Things I've learned: rolling it too thin = bad, so be sure you have enough, otherwise every flaw in the icing job underneath shows. Don't get too complicated. Simple shapes can build the look just as well as complicated ones. Don't make too many colors to start. It's exhausting. Be sure you frost the cakes before your fondant is ready to go, or it could stiffen up and crack on the edges while you wait. Be prepared for a giant mess of powdered sugar everywhere. I can't make a cake without looking I fell face first into a giant tub of cocaine.

Me and Freud, baby. Ok, it's really more like this: I MADE A CAKE.

The Cheshire Cat's grin came out exactly how my drawing did. Edible markers = win.

Happy 31st bday, Georgie.

Cheshire Grin

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lazy Days

I do not see you, demon dog.

Though I was meant to bake a few cakes for a bunch of Leos in my life, it's been too hot to cook. Instead, the animals and I have been working hard on writing and revising, and hanging out in the AC (not that it works very well). Spike, pictured above, has been known to sneak into my room with one or both of the dogs. That works out ok as long as Momo doesn't get too amorous. Paco usually squishes himself onto the floor for a nap. Lively bunch, yes. Yes, we are.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bianca's Birthday Cake

Bianca's Bday Cake

There's nothing quite as delicious and adorable as tiny marshmallow fondant flowers.

Bianca's birthday is tomorrow, but she came over with her kidlet for a cook out today. I will say that constructing a cake made of sugar, sugar, and sugar is not as easy as it looks... in 92 degree heat. I had to retreat to a small room with an AC unit to finish it before it melted.

I took these (about 6 hours worth of hand sculpted marshmallow fondant flowers):

fondant flowers

... and used butter cream icing to adhere them to a two tiered cake—an 8 inch round topped by a 6 inch round. These flowers were left to set overnight, which would have been fine except that the temperature softens them a bit. They didn't flatten, but did have a little give.

side of B's cake

The cake itself is strawberry. And glaringly pink.

strawberry cake, strawberry ice cream

It turns out the heat, while it made some things difficult, softened the flowers to the point that they were quite pleasant to chew. Delicious.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

Film to the Rescue!

old log, new log

Geocaching in a walking park is amusing. Little kids are the most inquisitive, but rather than ask what we were up to, one kid rode by on his bike 3 times in four minutes. He missed us digging up a misplaced log (no container) that was likely tossed by some teens. (The park's a well known spot for shenanigans. Mmhm.)

We wrapped the tattered old log in a little baggie, then included a fresh log for future signers to use. The old one was falling apart under light handling. Sad! It had a lot of sigs in it.

Since film is not dead!! (That's right!) I had some film containers hanging around in my studio. We read on the geocaching.com page that the thing needed a new container, so we gave it one. There's a pin-back button tucked into the new cache should anyone in (or passing through!) the Cincy area wish to go hunting for it.

geocache replacement container

Geocaching & Fondant Sculpting

(Also known as milling about looking suspicious & making a mess in the kitchen, respectively.)

adorable geocache tube

We set off on a quest for a UPS drop spot, determined to return some defective merch (geek sadness), but were waylaid by delicious dumplings at P.F. Changs. After appetizer-y goodness, and a massive detour (thankyew Cincinnati construction), we found the UPS place. And it was closed.

Did we despair? No.

We drove through Westchester to find Target and search out some shorts, as the summer has insisted on being deliciously sweat-inducing in recent days. I took off to The Evil Craft Store That Shall Not Be Named, in search of specific fondant tools, & found most of said tools. Of all the ECSTSNBN, the one in Westchester is certainly the most well supplied I've ever seen. Sundry shopping adventures followed, along with a gigantic and disturbing swarm of gnats, dead gnats, and more gnats (I suspect zombies and foul magics). Seriously. What is with the gnats, people? I walked 200 feet of sidewalk covered in gnats and gnat corpses, with little dive-bomber gnats pelting me the whole way. I did not photograph this for you.

You are welcome.

I was beginning to expect 9 other plagues on the horizon, and texted the bestie. He picked me up, lest I brave the hordes again, and we decided what better day to geocache than a day suspiciously rife with tiny locust-gnat activity.

We'd hit home depot and picked up $1.18 carabiners for our keys, and were feeling saucy!

geocache log - north bend kroger

Score. We located this little cache with a minimum of effort, thanks to it being eye level to one of us. The log was a big damp, but signing it wasn't a problem. Our marks made, we looked for awesome treasures to stow inside the tube, but had none, alas. Dead and partially smooshed gnat corpses notwithstanding. (Some of them tagged along for the ride home. Ew.)

Bolstered by our successes and triumphs, modest as they were, we motored home with high hopes. Upon homecoming, I gathered my tools. The bestie gathered his tools. He delved deeply into the guts of his android phone, and I met marshmallow fondant, (homemade), on the field of battle.

tools & star  trek...

9 flowers and 2 episodes of Star Trek later, this design won out. Do you know how much red food gel it takes to make this color? You don't want to know. Let's just say a lot a move on. These flowers take a lot longer to make than you'd think. I imagine folks get faster with experience (I hope).

Many thanks to the bestie for making a last minute run to the Krog for some cupcake gem "edible pearl" thingies. They finish the little flowers nicely.

small flowers

I'm not sure how long it's going to take these babies to harden up. It was so hot here, they started to melt. I shoved them in the fridge for later use. A certain niece's birthday is coming up on Monday, so she'll have to eat them and like it. Rar.

If you're jealous, and wish to find this Cincinnati geocache, clickie this linkie: gimme the clues!

marshmallow fondant flowergeocache - north bend kroger

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Radha Workshop, 25 June 2011


Radha Chandrashekaran is an artist of contemplation. She mixes media and works pieces with whatever items she needs to make them come alive, and continually explores the role of art in everyday life. In a workshop with NKU's Print Club, Radha shared some of her techniques and philosophy.

You can find her art, artist statement, and workshop information on her website: radartist.com.

detail - radha's piece - wip

Along with works in progress, Radha brought with her a technique she'd picked up from Japanese artists. This method of transferring images to paper uses water, ink, and a sort of handmade dauber. For more images, and plates in use, click any of these images. Below is a detail photograph of a wooden plate:

radha's wooden plate

The kalam, or pen, is another tool Radha brought with her. She taught us to construct these pens, which are really quite simple to make. The yarn serves as a reservoir for the ink, and a gentle squeeze sends more ink drips down the bamboo "nib" to produce a constant flow. Traditionally, kalamkari are made with this sort of tool (with a finer fiber) on silk with plant dyes.

nicci's kalam

The quality of the line is variable, depending on the width of the kalam used. The bamboo is wrapped snugly with cloth, then thread or yarn, and secured. After a brief soak in water, the kalam is ready to use. Among the inks explored was a simple, fragrant yellow made with turmeric (spice pictured at the top of this post). Below is a detail of a large piece of silk decorated with an intricate drawing.

kalamkari - detail of radha's silk

One of the best things about NKU, and the Print Club in particular, is that it promotes diversity in its artists and image-making. Alongside ancient tradition, and sometimes aged equipment, rest more modern reminders of who and where we are.

It's always a good time hanging out with NKU printmakers, and guest artists.

nku print room - ink in progress