Friday, May 06, 2016

Ghostbusters Birthday Cake


A couple of years ago I discovered this page on Pinterest. It shows how to transfer any image onto a birthday cake using a colouring page, coloured icing, a sheet of glass and a sheet of wax paper. Do have a look, she does a fantastic job of recreating Dora the Explorer in icing for a great cake topper.

When I first pinned it I knew that it was something I'd like to try someday - I was just a little put off by how fragile it looked. I could just imagine myself spending ages creating a design and then breaking it when it came to putting it on my cake.

I ordered some inkjet acetate from Crafty Computer Paper for an earlier project and I noticed that the instructions said that it was 'food safe'. This made me wonder if I could use it in a similar (but much simpler) way for making a cake topper image.

My husband's birthday was coming up and I thought it would be cute to make him a Ghostbusters cake. I knew that he wouldn't want me to spend too much time on it, so this method of making a cake topper would be perfect for an informal but still fairly impressive birthday cake. Instead of icing, I wanted to make my design out of white and dark chocolate as it's less fragile and (in my opinion), tastier.   The Ghostbusters logo is ideal for a first attempt at a chocolate cake topper as it's only made from three colours, two of which (if you're not too fussy about colour matching) don't need any colour adding.

I found this image of the Ghostbusters logo on Wikipedia, but you really could use any image. The bolder and less detailed the image, the better finished cake topper you will get - especially if, like me, you have never tried this before.

To make a chocolate cake topper image you will need:-

Print out your image onto the textured side of the acetate.  You don't need to reverse your image as your design will be flipped twice.

You first need to go over the finest and most detailed lines of your design.  Pipe your design onto the smooth, shiny side of your inkjet acetate - that is of course the side that hasn't got ink on it.  If your fine lines are black like mine, dark chocolate makes a great substitute. Melt several chunks of dark chocolate in a bowl and pour it into a disposable piping bag. (I really didn't need this much dark chocolate!)  Allow it to cool down a little before snipping off the very end of the bag.

The very first layer of chocolate is your most detailed.  This is the most difficult layer so it's a good idea to practice your fine line icing before you start.  Some of the finer lines can be tweaked using a cocktail stick and thankfully any mistakes can be wiped away with a piece of kitchen roll.

Place your sheet of acetate with the chocolate outline into the fridge on a flat board so that it stays in place when the next layer is added.  Don't be tempted to put it in the freezer as this will cool your acetate down too much, meaning that your next layer of chocolate will set too quickly and you will get ridges at the edges of your piped lines.  (I make the mistakes so you don't have to...)

While your image is cooling you can move onto melting the chocolate for the next layer.

The next layers of my design were much simpler. The white of my ghost is melted white chocolate.  I first cut a small hole in the end of my disposable piping bag so that I could carefully go around all of the edges.  Once I was fairly happy with the outline I was able to cut a bigger hole in my piping bag to speed up the rest of the white chocolate.

Here it is with the white chocolate added.  As you can see, this is the reverse of my Ghostbusters logo so it really doesn't matter too much that I'm not an expert in piping!

To create my final layer I melted some more white chocolate and then coloured it with Wilton's Candy Melt food colouring.

The back is a bit of a mess as I wanted to make sure that all of my layers were bonded together.  I went over all of the areas where the red met the white with a generous piping of red melted chocolate.

The eagle eyed among you will notice that I actually made two Ghostbusters logos - one for an informal birthday party with friends and another for an even more casual birthday celebration with just the three of us. (You may also notice that it was only after making the larger logo that I realised that I didn't need to mirror my image.)

The latter one was quite a bit smaller and I wanted it to stand up from the cake and be inserted into a Rice Krispie chocolate cake.  I just cut down a couple of barbecue skewers and then attached them to the back of the cake topper with a very generous amount of melted white chocolate.

Here's a close up of the smaller logo from the front - as you can see, this technique is very forgiving!

And here's the final cake with the larger logo.  To carry through the Ghostbusters theme I topped the cake with red, green and brown Smarties which I think helped to finish it off nicely.

Now that I've discovered this technique I'm sure I'll be using it a lot in the future.  It really does allow a non-professional cake decorator like myself to get some pretty professional results very easily.


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Thursday, February 25, 2016

World Book Day - How to Make Cute Costume Props

It's World Book Day soon and so I thought I'd share a little trick for making fancy dress props that I used last year for World Book Day.

My little girl wanted to go as Princess Primrose from Alex T. Smith's book, "Primrose." If you haven't come across any of Alex T. Smith's books, I can assure you, they're a real treat, both for parents and young children.

We have all of Alex T. Smith's Claude books too, which are a joy, as they have a nice balance of pictures and text for the young reader who enjoys reading to themselves but can be overwhelmed by pages and pages of text. The sense of humour in his books is delightful to children and a pleasure for parents to read aloud.

Primrose became one of those books that my daughter wanted to read again and again, so it was an obvious choice for her to dress as Primrose on World Book Day.

Thankfully I didn't have to make an awful lot for this costume and I was determined not to spend too much on it, just to use materials that I already had.

She wore her favourite pink party dress, with a pink cardigan and top.  I made her some blue bows out of fabric similar to the ones I made the previous year for her Lulu costume.  I then made her a pink crown to wear in her hair as Primrose always wears a pretty pink tiara.  In total I believe I spent £1.50 on pink wire as I had everything else already.

Image copyright Alex T. Smith
reproduced by kind permission of Arena Illustration

I really couldn't resist making her a stuffed Percy the Pug as I thought that anyone that knew the books would recognise him instantly.  

I thought I'd share how I made Percy as it's a really quick way of making props for World Book Day Costumes - or any other fancy dress costumes for that matter.  Percy was the perfect size for this project, but any small character that you can get a decent image of would work well.

How to Make a Stuffed Fancy Dress Prop 

To make a small stuffed costume prop you will need:-
  • A good quality image to work with
  • Computer and inkjet printer
  • Iron on heat transfer paper - I get all of my printables from Crafty Computer Paper in the UK, but you can also find them here.
  • 2 A4 pieces of felt.  I used flesh pink felt.
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Stuffing
Find your image that you want to work with - either scanned from the book or using an online search.  I was lucky enough to find digital images of Primrose and Percy on the Arena Illustrations website.  (They also very kindly gave me permission to reproduce the images and blog about it here.)

Image copyright Alex T. Smith
reproduced by kind permission of Arena Illustration

Resize your chosen image so that it will fit onto a sheet of A4 paper with a 2cm margin all the way round.  As you can see, I also copied the bow separately in Photoshop to give the prop a more 3 dimensional feel.

Print your image onto iron on heat transfer paper.  I had some left over from when I made my pom pom Up house mobile.  Please do take a look at this post for a bit more information on using the heat transfer paper.

Iron the fabric onto a sheet of felt.

Cut out around your character leaving a 2cm seam allowance.

Image copyright Alex T. Smith
reproduced by kind permission of Arena Illustration

Cut a second piece of felt to be the back of your stuffed character.  I did actually recreate the back of Percy using Photoshop but it wasn't really necessary.  If you're going to recreate the image on the reverse, don't forget that it needs to be a mirror image.

With the right sides together, stitch the front and back together, a few mm away from the outline of the character for a more cartoony effect.

Leave a good sized gap for turning it the right way around.

Now stuff it and stitch up the hole.

And here's Percy, proudly wearing the bow tie I made for him.  This was just cut out a few mm around the design and stitched together with a blanket stitch around the edge for a hand made look.

My daughter loved dressing up as Princess Primrose on World Book Day and a few of the children actually guessed who she was, solely from Percy the Pug so I think it really helped to finish off her costume perfectly.

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy this:-

DIY Cascading Tutu
Up House pom pom mobile
World Book Day - Lulus spotty bow

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