Cosmos flowers (also known as garden cosmos or Mexican asters) are stunning, vibrarnt flowers with a rich history and symbolism. If you weren't thinking of adding them to your wedding florals, perhaps I can change your mind!Read More
When I'm not making sugar flowers, there's a good chance it's because I'm making delicious cupcakes and adorable sugar cookies. Also, owls are scary.Read More
I don't know why it took me two months to get around to writing up this blog (yes I do; I'm a procrastinator), but here I am, so let's indulge in a little #flashbackfriday, shall we?
My fourth cake decorating competition was probably my most stressful one yet, which is kind of funny, because I say that about all of them (and honestly the three foot monstrosity I made for the Orlando Cake Fair last year was waaaaaayyyyyy more stressful than all of them combined) but I think the stress-inducing factors for this cake were more about what was going on in my personal life than anything else.
But regardless of whatever stress I was dealing with, my goal to make "just a small cake, nothing too crazy" did not exactly go as planned. The more I worked on the cake, the more I hated the design on the 7" tier (because I kept changing my mind, and because all my design ideas were too complicated and I didn't have enough time to finish), so I ended up redoing some designs right up until the last minute.
And by last minute, I do mean last minute. It was about a 3 hour drive to Miami and we needed to leave around 12 to get there on time. I finished up around 11:45!
I'm really proud of how the flamingos and palm trees turned out. I wanted something Art Deco/Miami inspired, because the theme was "South Florida." And of course, when you think of South Florida, you think of the Everglades, right? (Probably not. Apparently I was the only one with that idea!) And the flowers on the cake are butterfly orchids, which are native to the everglades.
The drop stringwork on the top tier and the oriental stringwork on the bottom tier are probably my favorite elements. I finally figured out on this cake how to get the stringwork to WORK, instead of fighting with it like I've done on the last three competition cakes. I was just never patient enough and kept breaking strings! Not this time, though. I'm still pretty obsessed with oriental stringwork, so don't be surprised if you see it on my next cake too!
And when I got to the competition, I immediately felt like I was out of my league. I spent the whole weekend miserable (that's a lie. I was in Miami. For a cake show. And I had guava pastries and mojitos everyday and got to walk around a giant showroom floor and buy all the cake decorating supplies my wallet could afford. I had a blast!) Ok so I wasn't miserable but I was definitely having one of those artist moments where I wanted to throw it all out and start over (artists are crazy, man). But of course it was my own fault for wanting to do a "small, not too crazy" cake that I absolutely procrastinated on. But then, even though I didn't win anything (which duh, the winners were absolutely phenomenal. They all brought it) I actually received quite a few compliments on the cake, and from really talented decorators, so that was a huge boost of confidence and inspired me to try again with the next competition.
And really, I think that's what it's all about. Pushing yourself to try harder and do better. I've grown so much as a decorator and an artist since I started entering competitions last year, and I can't wait to see how my skills keep growing the more I practice and put myself out there!
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Not exactly flower related, but just some general craft/diy knowledge I thought I would share. A little behind the scenes action, if you will.
One of my focuses while building my Etsy site is to take better pictures. Not that my pictures are terrible, but they're not exactly professional quality either. Last November I upgraded to an iPhone (don't get too excited; it's a 5c!) which takes significantly better photos than the Google Nexus did (sorry, Goog!) although I'm still drooling over a DSLR camera...
But in the meantime, my fledgling business and I can only afford the smart phone I already have, and whatever craft supplies I have around the house to build a lightbox, like this one.
Originally, I was just taking photos outside on my porch, but that can get tricky because a) the roof leaks, b) I live in Florida, c) it rains all the time (see this post). I read a few internet articles about lightbox building, and set to work deconstructing a cardboard box and putting tissue paper all over it.
Now, I could've just gone to the dollar tree and bought some posterboard for my background, but why spend $1 when I could use an old dress that I don't wear anymore and have a pretty lacy background instead of a boring ol' white one?
My next problem in this project is the lightbulb situation. I have 3 lamps that I have strategically placed around the outside of the lightbox (using the help of some books and old cake dummies to get the heights right; I should invest in adjustable lamps next! I heard OttLite lamps are really good for this sort of thing), but for now I just need the right bulbs. I tried using the bulbs I already had, but they cast a really yellow light-- nope! The internet told me I needed "daylight" bulbs, so off to Wal-Mart I went to spend $30 on "daylight" lightbulbs... only to find out that the LED variety I bought makes these nasty little flicker lines all over my photos!
Then I went to Lowe's with my boyfriend to spend a ridiculously long time looking for diy supplies. I didn't even have time to inspire myself in the garden section! However, we did get the little doodads I needed to fix my $7 clearance sale tripod so that my iPhone would sit on it, and I finally got some CFL daylight bulbs-- and for half the price as the ones from Wal-Mart. I think I spent about $20 on this whole lightbox project (not including the dress or the tissue paper or the box, since I already had those lying around) which is definitely within my teeny tiny budget.
Now that I've got the lighting situation under control, I just need to work on taking good pictures! Challenge accepted :)
Having lived in the central Florida region for quite a few years now (especially considering the time I spent here in college), it's amazing that I never got around to entering the cake competition at the Central Florida Fair. Despite my procrastinating ways, though, this year, I finally entered!
And of course, I had to feature some sugar flowers in my design. I worked on the flowers for this cake for about three months. It was pretty cool to be able to create some new designs for my Etsy shop in tandem with working on my show cake! The ranunculus, tulips, and orchids are all for sale now as custom orders.
My other favorite cake decoration technique is piping, so of course I featured a lot of that! I love the delicate and intricate look of the stringwork. I've taken some piping classes with Kathleen Lange and Barb Evans before, but I'm always itching to learn more and practice more! Those ladies do phenomenal work, and it's so inspiring to be able to learn from them.
I chose black fondant as my backdrop to highlight the bright, bold colors of the flowers, and the delicate detailed work of the strings and piping. As it usually happens when I'm working on a show cake, I ended up doing a lot of the work at the last minute. My plan was to finish at least a week ahead of schedule in order to give myself room for error. And it was a good thing I did!
The cakes were entered the week after Valentine's Day, which was so hectic at work! On top of that, I had car trouble, too! Ran over something on the interstate and got a flat tire. There went an entire day's worth of work (but I'm very lucky there wasn't more damage and no one got hurt!) And of course, I wanted to spend Valentine's Day with my boyfriend and make him a cheesecake. But instead I spent the day working on my cake and he got the cheesecake 2 weeks later. What a trooper!
Despite the occasional pitfalls, and the design options that I changed my mind about (repeatedly) throughout the process, I really enjoyed working on this cake. It's my third attempt at competing, and I really relish being able to challenge myself and stretch my skills.
I haven't gone back to the fair yet to check out the results, but win or lose, I know I did my best and I'm proud of my efforts.
Quick Update! I'm happy to say that I finally went back to the fair to see how I did, and I won first place! I'm so excited! It's so cool to see all that hard work pay off. :) And I'm so grateful for all the support and encouragement I got from everyone along the way. I seriously could never even attempted this without my cheerleaders! And now of course I've got my eyes set on the next competition, so there's no time to rest. I'm already thinking of things I can do better than the last few times!
January's birth flower is the carnation, which I am super excited about because I just started making sugar carnations and I'm really happy with how they're turning out.
But less about me and more about the flowers, ok? Ok.
Carnations come in so many different colors and can be incorporated into so many designs and with countless other flowers. And in "the language of flowers," the different colors of carnations can have different meanings. Some popular ones include:
- Pink: affection
- Red: love
- White: innocent love (love again!) :)
- Purple: whimsy
- Yellow: disappointment
- Variegated: unrequited love
Other meanings attributed to carnations include love, fascination, and distinction. Sensing a theme? Like any good wedding flower, carnations are a powerful symbolism of love. Although you tend to see them in bridal bouquets more than on cakes, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from adding carnations to your wedding cake! They are considered edible, so long as you're getting organic flowers not treated with pesticides. Another option of course is to use sugar carnations on your cake.
I learned a few other interesting tidbits about the carnation, like that it's also called Clove Pink or Gillyflower (Harry Potter reference, maybe?) and that carnations are traditionally given on Mother's Day and on the first wedding anniversary. It's the official state flower of Ohio (maybe include carnations as a subtle nod to your/your partner's love of Ohio State?) and the symbol of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 1974.
Maybe shy away from the yellow carnations, though? Unless you want to start the rumor mills spinning with gossip about the yellow carnation's association with disappointment! Although this isn't the Victorian era any more, so you probably don't have too much to worry about!
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My new favorite cake trend (not sure if it's a new trend or if it's merely my new favorite) are dark colored cakes with bright pops of color. You know the cakes I'm talking about: they're chalkboards, or they are all black with gold accents, or they have really bold geometric shapes in contrasting colors. Sometimes they have stripes, sometimes they're handpainted, sometimes they have gold leaf.
Regardless of how this trend is executed, I love it. And it's not just cakes either! Linens, invitations, anything and everything can be decorated in this theme!
I love that it's totally different from traditional wedding colors like white & pastels, but still looks so dreamy and romantic and classy!
In my humblest opinion, the best way to execute this glamorous style is to have a chocolate brown or black iced cake and contrast it with colorful pops of flowers. And if you're wondering where you can get some gorgeous fun-colored sugar flowers, you're definitely in the rigth spot! Some of my favorite brightly colored flowers are the hot pink peonies and limey green orchids in my Etsy shop. Any of the flowers I have listed can be customized in any color, so let your imagination run wild! ;)
Interestingly enough, Narcissus is the birth flower of December, although a little less surprising is that the holly is the alternate birth flower. Today we'll focus on Narcissus!
You might be reminded of narcissists when you hear "narcissus," probably because of the Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and pined away until he died. A really stand up guy and a happy mythology, don't you think?
But despite the Greek and Western associations of narcissus with vanity and self-involvement, in Eastern cultures, this bloom symbolizes wealth and good fortune, and even beautiful eyes! Narcissus is the most popular flower in Germany, and in Iranian culture it symbolizes the start of the new year. John Keats describes daffodils in one of his poems, saying "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."
And speaking of daffodils, the terms daffodil and narcissus can be interchangeable. That's because narcissus refers to the genus of flowers, and daffodils are a particular species found under this umbrella. Jonquils are also part of the narcissus genus, but they do look a little different from the standard daffodil or narcissus!
Don't be scared away by the supposed negative associations of the narcissus! A narcissus would be a good choice if you're looking for non-traditional but still beautiful wedding flowers.
Naricussus (which is both the singular and plural form of the word) have 6 petals and a trumpet shaped middle called the cup or crown or corona. They frequently bloom in the spring but some varieties bloom in the fall and winter, which is why they are December's birth flower. Typically, they come in shades of yellow and white, but there are many beautiful varieties that have contrasting petals and cups!
Narcissus flowers are poisonous, so if you're looking to put narcissus on your wedding cake, this is the perfect time to use sugar flowers! They are just as beautiful as the real deal and much less dangerous!
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Happy November! To celebrate the first week of this penultimate month in the calendar year, today's spotlight is the chrysanthemum, which is the official flower of November (and also of Chicago). Just like different gemstones are assigned to different months, so too are flowers! (November is topaz & citrine, by the way!)
The chrysanthemum, aka "mum" (much easier to spell), comes from two Greek words-- "chrysos" and "anthemon"-- and means "gold flower," although mums can be found in many different colors that just gold. They are native to Asia and northeast Europe and feature prominently in Chinese poetry and art. Mums are related to the daisy family, which makes a lot of sense since I use the same tools to make mums that I use for daisies! And speaking of scents, the mum has a rather earthy smell, rather than floral, which some people don't care for. But with gumpaste flowers, your nose would never know!
Chrysanthemums make great flowers for wedding cakes (they symbolize joy and optimism), anniversary cakes (they are the official 13th wedding anniversary flower), cakes for moms (traditional mother's day flower), or baby showers (they also symbolize longevity). In China, mums are used as a symbol for stateliness, and in Japan, perfection; so make your cake perfectly stately with these choice blooms!
Lisianthus are a popular choice as a wedding flower, and with good reason! They're pretty, romantic, widely available, colorful, delicate, sensual... everything the perfect wedding flower needs to be! They primarily come in two varieties, a single flower and a double flower. The single flower lisianthus resembles a tulip or a poppy while the double flower (pictured) looks more like a peony or a rose. In fact, one of their nicknames is the "poor man's rose." (A terrible nickname if you ask me.)
And speaking of nicknames, lisianthus has a lot of them! They're often known by their scientific name, eustoma (officially: Eustoma russellianum. it doesn't sound as pretty as lisianthus, does it?), or as Texas bluebells, prairie gentian, tulip gentian, or even lisyanthus.
Are you confused yet? Because I am! But whatever you want to call them, and whichever variety or color you choose, a lisianthus (can I just call it a lissie?) is a perfect choice for a wedding cake.
You could use in them in place of roses (while beautiful, they are a little overplayed sometimes, aren't they?) or with them. Their many frilly petals are reminiscent also of rununculus or peonies. Lissies also look beautiful with filler flowers like hydrangeas or jasmine, hyacinth, alstromeria, and daisies. And their buds look really cool; their tightly wound petals are twisted around each other in a neat little spiral.
The most popular color is purple, of course, because it's such a rich, stunning color that represents royalty, success, and accomplishment. Similar to purple, lavendar lisianthus bring elegance and refinement to an arrangement. Pink lissies are a more feminine option, representing grace, youth, and joy. White lissies are an obvious choice for a wedding, and they represent luxury, elegance, reverence. Choose blue lisianthus to evoke calm and serenity. No matter what, if you choose lisianthus for your arrangement, you're making a cunning choice!
And if you're looking to buy gumpaste lisianthus for your wedding cake, look no further than our Etsy page!
Some of our favorite picks for autumn blooms!
Alstromeria comes in almost every color of the rainbow, but we love the rich purple hues for this one! My cousin is getting married in October and their wedding features this "Peruvian lily," so I have it on good authority to say that these flowers will look stunning! The only problem I have with it is that I never know how to spell "alstromeria" ..."alstroemeria?" "alstromerias?"
Roses will always be season! The classic, elegant rose would look beautiful in any fall arrangement, especially in dark red, orange, or plum. And of course, white would look good too, especially against a backdrop of their dark green leaves.
Though you may think of succulents as a more summery choice, they are quite honestly a year-round favorite, and they're not going anywhere this season! I bought a succulent plant at IKEA a while ago, and I think it might be dying, but we're not gonna talk about that... And I went to Target today and they basically have an entire aisle in their home decor department dedicated to these adorable little planters filled with plastic succulents. Personally, I'd like to make myself one out of sugar...and I might just do if IKEA plant croaks... But back to wedding flowers! Pinkish-green succulents look great on their own, or mixed in with other blooms, and their waxy appearance adds a little texture that will make any floral arrangement pop!
Think more green and purple, not so much the bright blues and pinks of summer. White hydrangeas also add a touch of elegant sophistication to any arrangement. My mom has been growing hydrangeas for as long as I can remember, and there's reason these flowers are so timeless. They look so delicate individually, but bunched together they add so much volume and color and movement. (psssst...you can buy some hydrangeas here!)
Calla lilies are a classic wedding choice for a reason! Plus, they come in rich, autumn shades like crimson, and their unique trumpeted shape adds some depth to any arrangement or bouquet!
It was hard to only pick five! There are so many diverse and beautiful flowers to choose from! But no matter which ones you choose for your bouquet, decor, or wedding cake, they are sure to be beautiful on your special occasion! ;)
If you haven't noticed from browsing my Instagram page, I've been on a sugar flower kick lately. I'm not sure what exactly inspired it, except that I really wanted to decorate something, and I had all these cutters that I never use. So, sugar flowers it is! (Plus I'm kind of procrastinating on that competition cake I need to do for September. I'm terrible about that sort of thing!)
Here we have pictured is the cymbidium orchid, which I still have trouble spelling. It's probably my favorite flower that I've done so far.
I always like to take photos of my flowers outside on my balcony/porch/lanai/patio, because natural sunlight makes for the best photos (and I am shooting on a two-year-old cell phone camera, so I need all the help I can get!!) but the problem is, IT WON'T STOP RAINING.
Do you know how hard it is to snap an Instagram-worthy pic when you're dodging raindrops the whole time?? The roof of my balcony leaks, so I was seriously standing out there trying to find the one spot on my table that wasn't in the path of raindrops.
Luckily, my delicate little sugar flower avoided any catastrophe, and I was able to get him back inside to safety. In case you didn't know, sugar flowers basically start dissolving in water (You've seen that episode of the
right?), and I didn't want all my hard work to go to waste like that! (I've wasted enough petals accidentally snapping them in half; I don't need mother natures' help!)
But I think if my biggest struggle with these sugar flowers is the rain, then I'm doing a pretty good job with them. Plus, I've got a nice little indoor garden going on right now, which is pretty cheery even when it's so gloomy outside!
... do you see what I see?
...I feel like I'm taking crazy pills