Saturday, May 21, 2011

Time for the OCTOBLOG! So get KRAKEN....

Probably more than any other cake I have done to date, my Giant Octopus Cake has gotten a bit of attention. It was recently in National Geographic Kid's, and will be in their upcoming book "Weird But True". Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to see my name associated with that title. A picture of it also went viral, a phenomenon I learned about when my Flickr account suddenly had 113,000 hits over night.

I have a thing for Octopuses. Or Octopi. I should look that up.
I have a tattoo of one on my left wrist, which has been there for 20ish years. I just think they are the most unusual creatures on earth. They fascinate me. So when the Georgia Aquarium asked me to create a cake for their annual benefit "Aquavino", and gave me no restrictions, I went straight to my fave.

For those of you who haven't seen her, here she is...


Awwww...she's pretty, right? Well, as her Cake Mother, I think she's lovely, anyway. Because she's a giant! Octopus! Cake!


Making a giant octopus cake is, as you might imagine, complicated. Love them as I may, there were moments I was wishing I were more passionate about manatees.

To begin, I had to visualize the octopus on the board, and try to figure out which tentacles would need support, and which would not. And if I could get away with saying she was sitting on three of them. But probably not. 
Once I had a good sketch, and a buttercream outline on my cake board, I affixed the copper tubing to the base. The next step was to pile on 9 full sheet cakes, being careful to lower each one over the armature. I wanted the octopus to be sitting on  cake, to ensure enough servings. 


Next comes the layers that will be carved. I ordered all kinds of layers from our pastry team; half sheets, 18" rounds, on down to 7" rounds. Then I began layering and filling, being careful to keep in mind the ultimate shape I was hoping to achieve.


It helped to carve a bit as I went along, because it was a big cake. The tips of some of the tentacles were rice cereal treats. Finally, I had a basic shape, filled, carved, and ready for fondant.



 You may have noticed that there was sunlight coming through the windows at the start of this cake...

Now the fondant. While I tried my best to use the biggest pieces possible, one of the advantages of this complex shape was lots of nooks and crannies to hide seams!


One of the goals in this design was to have the octopus holding a few select bottles of wine. My idea here turned out to be a bit too ambitious, as the copper tubing I had chosen would not support a bottle full of wine. And unlike in my studio, I supposed they were not going to let me empty a few bottles there at the event. REDESIGN! A cake decorator values her ability to stay flexible! (She values it even more in her clients, am I right? Did I just hear an Amen?)


Now the good stuff...I've had a little sleep, and so has Large Marge, and now I get to airbrush! (This, by the way, was my old work area. This is why we are now in MAJOR RENOVATIONS! YAY!)



I added the suckers. They were like giant Smartees.



Almost done!


AAAANNND...Octocake! Now for a shower and some lipstick, and I will be back to immediately deconstruct her...





So there she is, coming and going! And though she lived a mere 30 or so hours, she will always be one of my favorites. 

Farewell, Large Marge!

















25 comments:

  1. OH MY GOD, that's impossible! Your so amazing! I love your work!

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  2. Way to go, mama! Keep raking in the views!

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  3. I am completely speechless! Can't hardly wait to learn from you after the OSSAS! Your work is remarkable! Thank you so much for sharing! Kellie Hamilton

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  4. What a great piece of art. Thanks for letting us see it.

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  5. Awesome Awesome Awesome!! I love your work! Thank you for sharing all these in-progress photos!

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  6. OMG, I can't believe what I'm seeing, this is a masterpiece. thank you for sharing the process of making this cake. Love your work!

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  7. Wow! I love seeing how you work. It's like watching a magician showing their methods...doesn't take away the magic just makes your jaw drop! If I was in Atlanta I'd be calling you up for some work experience! (Have I put enough exclamations in that comment?!)

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  8. All I can say (as I pick my jaw up off the floor) is WOW! That is one of the most amazing feats in cake I have seen yet. I love the air-brush work. Your quite an artist. Loved your other cakes too.

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  9. AMAZING
    it's a wonderful cake
    absolutly perfect

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  10. Karen, the scale of your cakes is so huge; few would dare to go there...loved the octopus and the sumo; A sweet picture of you kissing him good night!
    I thought the latest food network challenge was just torture. Surprised that you weren't the lead decorator; but, next time, I'm sure. I was out of the country for the last 2 shows, so don't know the outcome. The judging was very poor, I just couldn't take it. You and Joshua did amazing cakes that were not appreciated for great works of art created under ridiculous conditions.
    Wish you a great wedding season; try to stay cool in that Atlanta humidity! Claudia

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  11. This is truly amazing, I am smitten. Well done!!!

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  12. Karen, another amazing amazing piece of art :) You are truly inspirational! I really whole hearted appreciate the fact that you take the time to walk us through your masterpieces and allow us the inside glimpse of your genius designs. :) So few care to share these days. Thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to connect with your fans that adore you and your craft :) Happy Caking :)

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  13. The octopus is (was) so elegant. I hate that it was eaten but I'm sure it was delicious. Octopus(es) are my favorite critters. I guess there is some congruency in your cake's 30 hour life - Octopuses only live 3 or so years. Maybe that makes them even more precious.

    Samantha Moseley (saw post on Get Delicious FB post)

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  14. It´s Amazing!
    http://ferinha.com/

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  15. The cake is simply fabulous but it breaks my heart to see people eat it. *SIGHS* I guess that's the point!

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  16. That is the most incredible cake I have ever seen, your an artist. :) Bren

    http://chefbrenscupcakesandcatering.blogspot.com/

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  17. WOW....STEP BY STEP. I WANT YOU SHARED YOUR KNOWLEDGE IN THE FACEBOOK GROUP "TOP CAKE DESIGN" THANKS FOR SHARING!!!

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  18. Great job! You're amazing!

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  19. I love your work!
    You really are the best at bringing cake and sugar to life!.....totally love how you have managed to give movement to the Octopus above...just awesome!!!
    x

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  20. That is awesome! I wouldn't want to eat it because it's a work of art!

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  21. Your work is impressive, amazing, and inspiring! Thank you for the walk through. I can only imagine what you'll think of next! :-)

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  23. Completely amazed and blown away by this work! You did an awesome job. My wife LOVES anything-octopus, so I had to share this with her, too!

    Keep up the great work!

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  24. So Amazing!!!! You are truly a talent!!!

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