For a successful competition cake, U – B – U

For a successful competition cake,  U – B – U

Huh? Let me explain

Ok…well, say it out loud:  U-B-U

Yes, that’s right, you be you.  Or me be me.  You get the picture.

I had an epiphany this past weekend about me, cakes and art.   I’m still working through what it means, but here’s the situation:

I participated in a local cake show, for which I submitted two cakes for the competition.  (As an aside, unless you have a lot of time and patience on your hands, I don’t necessarily recommend two cakes for one competition, unless you’re a masochist!)  One category was wedding cakes, and since I haven’t done many of that variety, I thought it would be great to tackle as a challenge.

Now, I didn’t tackle this in an organized fashion, which may have been my first problem, but my latest fascination has been with bas relief cakes.  Perhaps you have seen the amazing bas relief cakes by artists like Shannon Bond (I’m obsessed with this one in particular!) around the internet, but I have been wanting to try it myself.  So I did, and I thought I did a pretty good job:

Bas Relief
Initial Bas Relief Tier

Molds are the key to a successful bas relief within a decent time frame… I use molds from various sources here, including brooch molds from Simi Cakes, making my own molds using Amazing Mold Putty, and baroque molds from Wilton.

On to the competition piece…

I basked in my initial happiness at getting this piece complete and to a place where it made me happy to look at it.  Then I went to town in trying to figure out the rest of my cake.

I got myself a bunch of baroque molds, decided that after looking at samples of baroque fabric patterns that I would add some tufted cushions and draping, and I went to town.

What I ended up with was very pretty (in my humble opinion), and in fact took 2nd place at the competition in its category – and I got a lot of positive feedback.  However, when I looked at the cake, I didn’t have any of the “feels”.  I figured I was just tired from finishing two cakes, working down to the wire.

Here’s a picture of the final product:

So, what happened?

A couple of days later, with a little more perspective, I figured out why I didn’t love this cake.  I didn’t do it for me, I did it for the judges, for the show, for the competition.  I had read too many blogs about trying to be perfect for shows. The technical overshadowed the artistry.  As my friend Scott from Seven Ravens Bakehouse wisely said, “you got to do you!”  He was right, I hadn’t done that here.

So, what did I learn?  I learned that the beauty of art comes out when the artist is loving what they are doing.  Ultimately, if you’re going to make art, you should love what you’re doing.  If you don’t, it might come out lovely, but you won’t love it.  As artists, we know that all our creations are like our babies and we want to love them all.  We certainly like some better than others (shhhhhh), but we want to love them all.  If they aren’t created from the heart, they aren’t going to be loved by you.

Now I know that I WILL love this cake after all.  Not for what it looks like, or how it makes me feel, but that it gave me a lesson and a reminder that my art comes from inside me, and I gotta keep doing me.  And, I send you off with the loving encouragement of  “U – B- U”!


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