Monday, December 31, 2012

End of year Cross Stitching

As usual I have a cross stitch on the go - although at the moment I have two, and one of them is left over from Christmas because I didn't finish it in time! I think I started this Christmas cross stitch when I got home from my honeymoon in November, but it was just a little more detailed than I had anticipated and I didn't get in finished in time to give to anyone for maybe next year!

So that I don't get too frustrated with continuing to do a Christmas cross stitch after Christmas, I started a new vintage inspired cross stitch. I wasn't sure who I would give this to, but then one of my friends gave me some fabric she had bought from Ikea which will go with this cross stitch perfectly, and so she will receive this once it is finished and has been turned into a pillow.

I'm also hoping that 2013 will bring me more time to craft and more time to blog. Fingers crossed!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Madame Clochette

I am lucky enough to have as my sister the fabulous Madame Clochette! And for my recent wedding she gave me the most spectacular gift, a custom made handbag. It was so custom, that she had secretly contacted the designer of my wedding dress, Wendy Makin and ordered matching fabric. She then attached my new initials to the front of the bag. If that wasn't special enough, even the way she packaged the bag was amazaing!

I also chose to use Madame Clochette bags for my bridesmaids, rather than very expensive flowers that die!! They were also matched to the bridesmaid dresses, and accessorised with individual charms.

Madame Clochette bags in action.
To order your own, visit her Etsy store Madame Clochette, like her on Facebook or read her blog.

Viktoria Novak

I have to admit that I have been thinking about getting married for quite a while, especially when you consider the fact that I was single for much of this time!! When thinking about dress and veil options I always thought that I would want a Mantila veil with lace around the edge...but what if I had a lace dress!! Decisions, decisions!!
When it got closer to the possibility of getting engaged, I started thinking about things more seriously. And when a wedding expo came up where a certain milliner would be displaying her designs, I thought "hey, why don't I go along and try some on, just to see if anything suits me!" And what do you know, something suited me!
Viktoria Novak helped me try on a couple of different head pieces and they were all so beautiful. She also told me that something could be designed especially for me. And then I noticed the bouquets...these beautiful brooch bouquets that I had seen pictures off but I hadn't seen in person. Well they were just beautiful!
So I had my solution - my head piece and bouquet would be made by Viktoria Novak. Now I just needed a proposal.

Then he proposed! Yay! And we set a date, and when I called Viktoria she did point out that since there was more than 12 months until the wedding, and I didn't have a dress yet, that she could book me in but I needed to organise some other things first. She was very helpful in giving me support and advice during the process of styling my wedding.

Once I had my dress and colour theme sorted I took a trip to Viktoria's Sydney studio and we got planning. I took a swatch of fabric from my dress, brooches from my grandmother's and my mother's veil from the 70s. I tried on only a couple of head pieces until I found one I liked, and when Viktoria arranged the blue tulle from m Mum's veil on the back of the head piece I have to admit...there were tears!!
I looked at the bouquets next, and there was one that was almost perfect...but I'm so fussy! So Viktoria took out the feathers, added some pink, added my grandmother's brooches and tulle from my Mum's veil to create the most perfect of bouquets!

On our wedding day I received so many compliments, as a bride normally does, but there were so many specific compliments on my head piece and bouquet, and how they suited my dress and my personality so well. I now get to keep my bouquet for ever, as well as my head piece, and now all I need is an excuse for my next Viktoria Novak design!

I do have one HUGE complaint about visiting the Viktoria Novak Studio: it's such a horrible temptation! I want everything! And I swear if I win lotto I will spend the rest of my life wearing Viktoria Novak designs and I won't care what anyone says - hats are always appropriate!!

Visit Viktoria's website to see the range of beautiful designs!

The photos below are from Melissa at 'A Shot Above the Rest'.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wedding Cake

When I first got engaged in August 2011 and started thinking about all things wedding related (I may have already thought about some wedding things, prior to my engagement), one of the things I decided I didn't want to do was to spend a lot of money on a wedding cake. I have heard of people paying almost $1,000 for the most simple of cakes, and I didn't want the most simple of cakes. For a three tier cake I would be looking at $600 at least, so I decided I would make one myself, I mean it can't be that hard.
So I enrolled in a cake decorating class, and I decided on the style of cake that I wanted. Three tiers with navy blue damask stencilling (in order to match with the damask print throughout our invitations).

Well I have to admit here, in writing, in public, that it was the dumbest idea I've ever had!!! Ugh, what an effort! The icing wasn't the worst part, it was the fact that to get the height of the cake tiers that I wanted I had to make 8 individual cakes in total!!
I could have bought pre-made, but un-iced, cakes but I have found that some other mud cakes I don't actually like. such as the ones from the cheesecake shops. And I found some really great recipes for the cakes that I ended up making.

In the end our guests enjoyed the cake, and many of the commented that it was the best wedding cake they had ever had. There were a few dodgy bits in regards to the icing, I had the cake set up so the best side was facing the front, but when I walked into the reception the staff had turned it around and so most of the photos that people have taken (and put on FaceBook) were taken from the worst side!!

These are the four individual 10" cakes that made up the bottom tier. You have to trim off the cakes so that they're even and so you do lose some of the height. But I have to admit that I didn't level it off as well as I should have.

The stencilling on the bottom tier ended up covering up a multitude of fondant icing sins! I used copha to help hold the stencil on the cake each time and it worked really well. Stencilling isn't really that hard at all!.

The three separate tiers - all on their own cake boards with support skewers in them as well. They were all transported separately before I put them together at the reception venue the night before the wedding.

Above is the photo from the side of the cake that should have been the front. And below is the side that almost everyone took a photo of and put on FaceBook!

Cake decorating since July

Although I haven't been blogging, I've still been making and decorating cakes. It's probably what I've been doing most - although there is always a cross stitch on the go for when I'm watching TV.
Here are the cakes that I have made in the past 3 months:

It was my fiancé's (now my husband) 27th birthday in August, and so naturally I had to make him a cake. I asked what he wanted and he requested a race car cake. I forget what I made the actual cake of, but all of the icing is fondant. I pushed green fondant through a strainer to create the little bushes, and used black fondant for the tyres. I made the flag out of white fondant and a skewer, and then I painted the black squares on to it.
Joel made the cars himself - it took him ages, but it was so worth it!! They turned out great.

Then I found an excuse to make a Dolly Varden cake (and buy myself the tin!). One of the nurses at work was leaving, and although people suggested a make some kind of cake with a needle on it (she worked on the immunisation program) I talked everyone in to a vintage Nurse cake.
It was surprisingly easy to make and to cover with fondant. I put rolls of icing around the skirt of the cake and then draped the fondant on top. Because you want it to look like fabric it isn't an issue to just leave the fondant how it falls.
The apron I got from a Mrs Claus cake pattern, and I designed the hat myself. Although not shown in this photo, I ended up painting a Red Cross on the front of the apron and hat. Everybody enjoyed it!

The next cake came from a request from someone I used to work with. She has two sons with birthdays close together, and although she's tried, she hasn't been happy with the cakes she made in the past. Apparently there were issues with a Mickey Mouse cake whose skin colour was too pink, and she dropped sprinkles on his chin. So he looked sunburnt with stubble!
So she asked me to make a Woody (from Toy Story) cake. I googled some ideas and you should see the types of cakes that people are making out there! They're amazing!! So while I didn't go to the effort of making a cowboy hat out of fondant, I think the cake still turned out pretty well.

And just one week before my wedding it was my (new) nephew's 2nd birthday, and he's obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine - as I think most 2 year old boys are. So a Thomas cake it was.
This one really scared me - I made a 10 inch square cake and then cut it and sculpted it together to look like Thomas. But there are so many different versions of Thomas, and I had issues with his face! So while I was out picking up some more icing, I also got one of those edible Thomas pictures, just in case!
But it all turned out quite well. I was still worried that the kids, being quite harsh critics, wouldn't like it, but as soon as we brought it out my nephew shouted "Thomas!". So all was good, it was a success and everyone enjoyed it (including parents!).

A long time and many changes!!!

I can't believe it, I haven't posted on this blog since July!! Isn't that shameful!
What's my excuse? Well, I blame the wedding. I just got married on 27 October 2012 and I guess the lead up to the 'big day' really took over more than I thought it would, but it was totally worth it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Handbag cake - complete

I have completed my first 3D cake! And in this photo it looks quite good...but let me tell you, there were some issues along the way! And as usual, I get so caught up in the process that I forget to take photos along the way, so I only have one "progress" photo and this is of the pink fondant icing I had rolled out.
I didn't have too much trouble colouring this fondant, using Americolor "Deep Pink" and unlike the "Fuchsia" that I've used for other things, this didn't seem to fade as it dried. But I have to say that I'm not happy with this icing that I have been using. I meant to buy 3kg of white fondant, but accidentally ordered White Chocolate fondant! And I also used a different brand, this is Cake Art plastic icing and I have to say that I find it really hard to knead and roll out. I get so frustrated with it, and it ends up all over me!!
On the other hand, I use Bakels Pettinice fondant in black and it is just so nice to work with!

So here are some of the troubles that I had:
  • The shape of the cake was just plain tricky, and I was lazy and I didn't ganache the cake, I just used regular icing. So when I laid the fondant on it, it was quite lumpy. Although my fiancé said that the lumps gave it a more 'real' look, like there was stuff in the bag.
  • Smoothing the icing on the edges, the joins, was tricky. I think that instead of just laying one bit of icing over another, I should have squeezed the joins together and cut off the excess. That's what I did on the top of the sides, and it smoothed out a lot better.
  • The criss-crossing - I only had a little ruler, and I have to admit I rushed it, so the crosses didn't match up as I would have liked them. I also may have rushed with the stitching tool a little bit.
  • I used gold shimmer dust on the zip, and I think it looks good, but I had tried to mix it in with some water to make it more like paint, and that didn't happen. I also realised that I hadn't cleaned my paint brush from last time!
  • The handles that I had painstakingly pre-made broke!! One broke when I was trying to move it out of the way. And the other broke after I had put it on the cake! It just fell off and left black marks on the icing!! Grrr!!
  • And then there was the weight of the didn't seem too bad until the day after I iced it, when I opened the box to find it leaning back (thankfully in the right direction, so the decorations were still on the front). How annoying! But once again, fiancé to the rescue: He propped it up with an empty "Rock Star" energy drink can!! 
Thankfully it all worked out in the end. The cake survived until Jessie's birthday, and everyone who ate it said it was nice. Although the cutting of it was kind of confusing!!

But what I learnt from this cake was:
  • Be very careful with the pre-made fondant stuff - maybe use some string or just hold things until you're sure that they're stuck
  • Think about the shape of the cake and the weight, where it might lean and all of that
  • Take your time with the decorations. Think things through and don't be so lazy.
  • Think about all the tools you'll need before you start - so you don't get frustrated with the getting up to get more things so many times!
  • When someone asks if you want help, just accept it!!
  • Next handbag cake will be more of a clutch style :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Handbag cake - preparations

For a very special person's birthday I have decided to make a handbag cake. Last night I baked the cake and today I started to prepare it.
First I had to cut the cake into sections and then put it back together in a handbag shape, using icing to stick it all together. I'm not 100% happy with how the shape has turned out but I show a friend a photo of it today, and she knew it was a handbag, so I guess that is a plus!!

The next lot of preparation I had to do was for the add-ons to go on the bag - such as the handles, and some letters. So I have used black fondant (I purchased it black, so I didn't have to worry about tinting it), rolled it out fairly thin (not too thin for the handles), and then used a cutter to cut out strips, and a stitching tool to put in stitch maks. I also used a great set of Snap-It letters to cut out my friend's name (and some other random letters to put in my little box of random fondant things).

So the next thing to do will be to cover the cake with pink fondant (which I prepared today) and add the decorations and details. I'm also going to add a zip, so I'll be trying out some gold shimmer paint out and I'm really looking forwad to testing it! Hopefully I'll have it ready for Thursday and hopefully it stays together and doesn't fall over - I have put skewers in to secure it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vintage Inspiration

I'm often inspired by vintage things - and we should clarify here what I consider to be vintage, which is anything before the 1970s. Maybe it's because my Mum and Dad were young adults in the 70s, or that my sister was born in the 70s, but I just get offended when I do a search for "vintage X" (usually sewing patterns) and ebay returns things from the 80s!! 80s isn't vintage!

Anyway, back to what I was saying. I'm often inspired by vintage things but tonight I am finding myself more so. I'm typing this with hot rollers in my hair in an attempt to create a vintage hairstyle, and I'm hanging out to wear a dress I just finished making from a vintage pattern. Maybe it's because I've been searching for images to use for bridal hair and make up, and searching for these images has motivated me to watch some old movies as well. Tonight I watched a new movie about an old movie...My Week With Marilyn...and I really enjoyed it. I did have to google straight away to see if Michelle Williams wore padding to get the Marilyn figure, and I was right, she did! I don't have to wear padding, well maybe for the top half, but I have a very obvious difference between my waist and hips, which the dress I made will emphasise. It takes seeing old movie stars to remember that it's ok to have hips and that they're actually attractive! You wouldn't think so looking at todays movie stars.

I'll be wearing a headpiece which has a vintage feel to it and so I've tried to find images of actresses wearing hats or headpieces - but they are so hard to find! So here are some of my vintage images for hair and make up inspiration:

Jane Russell and Ava Gardner. You have to love the brunette vixen from the silver screen. Jane has the honour of having said one of my favourite lines in a movie: "I like a man who can run faster than I can!" (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And Ava just has such superb grace.

Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe. Not only did Ginger do everything Fred did but backwards and in high heels, she also always lookd glamorous. I love this movie, Shall We Dance for many reasons: Fred is so funny in it, great songs (They Can't Take That Away From Me and Lets Call The Whole Thing Off), they tap dance on roller skates, and the final dance scene (minus the ballet) is just lovely. I also love her hair in this shot and she is wearing a kind of skull cap head piece that may be similar to mine.

And what can you say about Marilyn, especially before the Kennedy's got to her! She is just lovely.

I have saved the best till last. I kept scouring the internet, doing dozens of google image searches, and getting so frustrated because I just knew that I had seen a photo of what I want to look like on my wedding day but I couldn't track it down. Then I realised why I couldn't find it on the website. The photo I had in my mind was one of my maternal Grandmother, Nanna (Marie) Thompson, that my Mum has up in her house. So I took a photo of it the other day, and considering I do take after my Grandmother to a certain extent, I'm hoping that I might look something like this on my wedding day:

I'm hoping to get a photo of me in my new vintage dress soon (it's been -5 degrees in the mornings at the moment, so I haven't been able to bring myself to frock up) and I will definitely be posting it. And if I work out some perfect roller placement for perfect vintage hair I will post photos of that as well shortly.

In the meantime, what is your vintage inspiration?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Winter Gardening

During summer I posted about my snap dragons and how proud I was of them. Well since then they have died, and it has gotten very cold here in Canberra! But never fear, I have been speaking to some of the green-thumbs at my work and have been told that bulbs can be planted. So I purchased a range of bulbs from some kind of fundraising program and I have been meaning to plant them for about a month now!

I have purchased some bulb potting mix - because I had two pots to put bulbs in - and some 'blood and bone' which is apparently put on top of the bulbs.

This is how my garden has been looking:

Pretty dismal. But since the sun was out this Sunday, and I'm finally recovered from the chest infection which has been preventing my bulb planting, I went wild!

Ok, so my idea of wild is probably not as wild as what other people may do, but it's wild for me. I got a little confused with how I had to plant the bulbs, so I'm a bit worried that I have planted some bulbs upside down!

I also filled up the two pots, and I have spread the 'blood and bone' on top. Now I'm a bit unsure of how often I'm meant to water them, and when I should expect to see any action. I think I'll probably aim for watering on the weekend at the very least and maybe once more during the week if I remember and it isn't too cold.

Stay tuned for some growth photos!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Making an 18th Birthday Cake

Recently I volunteered myself to make a cake for a boys 18th birthday. It was a bit of a struggle to think of what to make since I don't really know a lot of 18 year old boys and I didn't really have a lot to go on. I could have made a football team cake, but he isn't a football fan. So I decided to settle for something kind of basic, but fun. Then I bought the "Planet Cake" book and found my inspiration.

So here is my step by step for making a cake.

First I prepared some of the decorations - blue and green stars.

Then I covered the board in the blue fondant.

For the cakes I made two chocolate mud cakes and then stacked them together. I was watchin some clips of 'Cake Boss" and it looks as though each of their tiers is actually three cakes's the only way to get the heght, and so next time I'm going to try doing three cakes.

Once the cake was stacked and covered with chocolate icing (to try and even out some of the bumps) I cut out two circles of blue fondant and put them in the middle of the cake - this is to make the explosion type thing in the middle.

In between the last photo and the next photo I got a little bit "in the zone" and forgot to take photos of each step!
So what I did inbetween the photos was:

  1. Cover the cake with White Chocolate fondant icing (which was actually a little difficult to work with, it wasn't as pliable as the other fondant I've used before)

  2. Trim the excess fondant and smooth out the icing

  3. Cut some slits on the top of the cake and peel back for the 'explosion'. This was definitely easier said than done. It didn't work as it was supposed to, but I fixed it by cutting out some blue triangles so that it looked ok

  4. Put the fondant ribbon on the cake

  5. Put the star decorations on the cake

And viola!

Next I had to insert the "18" candles in the middle and fill it in so that it looked better. I added a couple of those edible metallic beads and some luster dust to make it look a little bit more celebratory. This is the finished product: what do you think?