Sunday, November 21, 2010

you want me to wear what??!

Yes, i'm one of those people who puts clothes on their dog. Apart from the amusement I get from seeing my lil' guy in a mini "snuggie" or pajamas with strategically placed "opening" it does serve a very practical purpose . Contrary to popular belief, California is not all sandy beaches and big sun. Here in Northern California it is chilly more often than not. For a guy who has little to no hair, clothes, regardless of how amusing or humiliating , are a necessity . As he gets older, more and more parts of his body have become off limits. Today we had one of those frustrating contests of wills , culminating in some growls and snaps,and apparently "we" have decided that he will no longer be wearing the snuggie.It reminded me of when we first arrived here, nearly a decade ago, and repeated attempts to send him to bed clad in a warm sweater .We'd always awake to a newly "naked" chihuahua. An apparent clothes Houdini, he is able to wiggle out of everything short of a straight jacket. I'd try an actual straight jacket if it wouldn't result in a disappearing act of my fingers =)! Anyway, all these memories of "naked Bee" made me think of naked cakes.My first installment about these unfinished works was well received so I thought it would be a good time to revisit it.Now, off to turn up the heat!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tim time!

I warned early on that this blog would be both in praise of my life with cakes and my bouts of malaise too, admittedly, it may have thus far been a little light in the praise department. Maybe I'm just old or getting lazy in my old age but , forgive my complaint leanings, but 13 hour work days don't leave me much in the mood for celebrating these days.Still, there are some jobs and clients that completely make me forget about the seemingly never-ending days. One such family are the "Z's" Carolyn Z first contacted me a few years ago about making some special airplane cupcakes for her son, Tim. Tim's a pretty special kid with a beautiful smile , who really knows what he likes.He's into planes and Mario, especially the Yoshi and Toad characters. Tim is also autistic.We've never actually met, but I am always treated to wonderful stories and pictures of Tim and his cakes.Words cannot truly express how touched I am that this wonderful family has let my cakes become a tradition in their family.I have never been able to make it through one of their wonderful thank you notes without tears.My work can feel so insignificant at times, but knowing that I have brought joy to someone through my work is a pretty awesome feeling. Tim's annual birthday cake has become as much a tradition for me as it is theirs. So from the bottom of my heart,Thank You!!!!!!...........xo, Debbie

The one's that started it all.....

The first of Tim's Mario themed cakes.........More Mario, the following year featured "Toad" of my fave cakes.......

Next up was an homage to Tim's love of planes,Mario (see the tail wing) and his very special service dog Charlie.I mean, of course he's special, he can fly a plane afterall!
This year I was tasked with combining Yoshi, Toad, Charlie and Nerds candy all in one. I love that dog butt =)
how can you NOT love this picture?? Carolyn told me Tim wanted to stare at the cake all night and even wanted to go back downstairs at bedtime to get one more look haha!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mea culpa....

........and thirty lashes with a wet fondant noodle.I have been unintentionally neglecting the blog.
Forgive's been really busy.
In August we drove the "cake mobile" (see below)
down to our very first cake show, The ICES convention in In San Diego. I spend so much time sequestered in my shop, it was great to be able to get out and even better to finally meet in the "real world" so many talented cake designers some, I have been fortunate to call friends for years, and some that I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. I felt like Bigfoot trekking across the forest, often rumored, but rarely seen.It was nice to emerge from my cave if only for a brief time.
When I returned to the lair, it was pretty much hit the ground running.I had no idea how exhausting having time off could be. I think I could learn to adapt.......
Since then a lot has been going on: lots of cake orders and inquiries, a magazine interview for an upcoming feature In "National Geographic Kids" magazine, a small piece in "Modern Dog" magazine and a feature in Italian newspaper La Repubblica.Whew! Here are a few pics of cakes that I have done since I last wrote , San Diego seems so far away now........
how's this for a diverse assemblage of cakes? Plunger cake, anyone?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

well, you know my name is Simon

.......and the things I draw come true.Ah! one of my favorite segments on Captain Kangaroo.If I lost you at Captain Kangaroo, sorry, I'll now be speaking to the old folks here for a little while.
As a child who was so often carried away , metaphorically, by drawing, naturally I was entranced by a little Boy named Simon, who , in fact, did draw things that came to life. I am still enchanted by the power of art and creation.There truly is something magical about envisioning something and seeing it come to fruition. I had this thought when poring through some cake sketches. To see your concept, or even a germ of a concept actually materialize still has the power to amaze me.
I am often asked if I provide sketches, and generally I do not. Because much of what I do is replicating objects in cake, a drawing is both redundant and not a true portrayal of the finished cake. I'm not, in fact Simon and the things I draw don't exactly come true.However, when I am composing a tableau or "scene" if you will, a sketch is often very helpful in envisioning the final product. Many of my sketches are nothing more than speedy scrawl to flesh out placement, or to simply help me envision what my work week will look this one:
Some sketches are more involved concepts, where I will combine hand sketching with computer graphics to achieve a more professional proposal like this one:then there are the sketches that are never fully realized, but most have the decency to not be aired on national TV..........haha!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Parts is parts

I can't count how many times I hear someone say how much they love making cakes and how it would be so much "fun" to have a job "playing in sugar".What strikes me about this most is, at the end of a 14 hour day the word "playing" does not enter my lexicon.Working in the custom cake business, is something of a misnomer.Often, it might be days into my work week before I ever touch a cake. I work alone so I need a really big hat rack to store all the hats I have to wear on any given work week. I'm the administration staff, the supply clerk, the public relations person, the accountant , the baker , the delivery driver and finally the cake designer.After all that, sometimes actually getting to focus on actual production can feel like something of a break, at least I'm doing only ONE thing.
So many of my cakes are comprised of multiple components, components that might take me all week or more to craft.So given my already overflowing inbox,why in the world do I often actually introduce even more parts where they were not originally requested? You might call it divine inspiration or sugary masochism , but I'll just call it fun.Yes, fun.Now, don't think that all the "parts" crafting is a sushi picnic at the beach. Some jobs are just that: jobs, unavoidable tasks. However, sometimes I'll get an idea about some element I have positively convinced myself the cake absolutely needs! I'll admit, I usually put far more time into those bonus elements than I have to spare, but most often, it was that little extra that completed the presentation.
Here's a collection of "parts" that I spent waaaay too much time on and didn't care one bit. That leaning tower of dishes can wait just a little while longer.
this fully to scale Big Mac box took me two days alone
in the middle of the night I just "knew" that a Heineken bottle cake needed an oversized coaster and bottle opener!
Ok, I was actually commissioned to make a few figures for the launch of the new Death Jr. Video game, but I got carried away and made a whole slew.When my client ordered a cake replica of her boyfriend's PSP game system, she was perfectly content with just the system , but when all was said and done, it also had a controller, a game cartridge and a taco bell dinner because she mentioned he always has taco bell while gaming.
finally, I'm working on a Molar cake this week and inspiration plus my cursory graphic design skills led me to create the inscription in toothpaste and floss(but hopefully tastier)!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

everyday is halloween

.......or so it might seem if you gauge your seasons by the subjects of your cakes. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of making a Left 4 Dead/ zombie themed cake for one of my very first DDC customers. I relish every opportunity I get to make cakes like that. Bloody body parts, decaying flesh...... I'm getting to live out my FANGORIA fueled dreams.
By now you all know about how a dog encouraged me to start DDC, but I haven't told you how a rat helped shape my business model. Back in 2005 I had first launched my website. Hoping to promote the site, I shopped around for link exchanges. One highly respected, sugar artist generously offered a section of her website as a directory for cake designers across the country. I knew that getting her approval would be equivalent to the Good Housekeeping Seal . I eagerly submitted my site, awaiting her OK.She replied that she loved my work , but she suggested that I remove the "dead rat cake". Now, she was not the first person to express a strong reaction to that cake. Some were disgusted , some intrigued , but all were interested. I realized that it was far more important to me to offer cakes that were above all else "interesting".Against the aforementioned artist's suggestion, I kept the rat. The rat was a symbol to let my potential clients know that nothing was too off beat, too strange.Over time the rat image was replaced by other , newer cakes, but I still get comments about it to this day. A cake that keeps people talking years later? Yep, I think I made the right decision.
Here's the Left 4 dead cake referenced and a nice little compilation of other Halloween/ horror themed cakes including the rat

Friday, May 7, 2010

does size matter?

..... probably not, still it's something I am fascinated with. Before you get all distracted, of course I'm taking about CAKE size! Like all cake professionals, I spend much of my free time looking at cake "porn" (I've got a theme going on here, huh? ). It's great to see all the wonderful work out there from my peers, but unless you are Cupcake Envy it's not always easy to ascertain a cake's scale. I know many times I have been surprised to find out a cake's true dimensions. Photos can be so deceptive. What I have learned is that Australian and English designers tend to make smaller cakes and, to assuage the American credo of "big is good but bigger is even better" American cake makers tend to craft larger cakes. Scarred by experiences at the old work place, I usually oversize an already outsized cake so servings are never an issue. Determining how many servings a cake will yield is an advanced art all in itself when you don't make round or square cakes.Alas, there is no chart at the ready to provide servings info for , say, a severed head cake.Experience is the only answer to this conundrum .
I thought it might be fun to see a few cakes in context. Thanks to all the people who lent their likenesses for this exercise. These are by no means the largest cakes I have made but are good representations of size
Plus..... it's a good way to show off some goofy photos!.

Monday, April 26, 2010

about that cupcake..........

When you make cakes that look like everything except cake, it's really hard to convey that in a symbol, or in this case a logo. When I first started DDC I struggled with this. At that time simply stating "sculpted cakes" was often met with quizzical looks and the inevitable "just WHAT is a sculpted cake anyway??" Should I select an image of a cake as my branding? Which one? Baked ham cake? No, I learned from having that image on one of my business cards that that just leads people to ask "Oh you do catering too?" What then? perhaps one of my animal cakes? Then I might get pigeonholed as only making animal cakes (see? "pigeon-holed:animal cakes? get it?)
That wouldn't do either. In fact no single image would accurately convey what I do . Hence the "cupcake" in my logo. Not entirely sold on it OR cupcakes in general (but more about that in a bit) but it'll do. Close but no cigar.Anyway, that cupcake logo has been used on my website, my business cards, my sign and on my first delivery vehicle.
Over time I grew to despise cupcakes. My mission in starting DDC was to offer things you could not get just anywhere. I need not point out that every town has a cupcake shop and every city has many multiples of them. I have been trying to phase out cupcakes for the longest time now because of this plus the fact that they are such a pain in the ass, at least the ones I make. I guess I could just make simple toppers that are cute and decorative but you know I'd never take the easy road.......nope, If there's a way to make something complicated and time consuming I'll find it. Despite finding the production quite tedious, I will (just this one time) admit that it's cool to see lots of little things in groupings. I do love miniature stuff =)
We recently got a second delivery vehicle and again the "cupcake" debate arose again. If I stuck with the logo then I'm stuck with cupcakes, right? Answer is a qualified "yes". As of now I still will take on the occasional cupcake order if , and only if, I think it's something that is unique enough to warrant my doing them vs. a cupcake specialty shop. So here are a few DDC cupcakes/ toppers that I can now admit are some of my faves, you know , now that the memory of the pain of making them has faded.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

News of the World

.....not just a great song by The very awesome group "The Jam" but also an apt title for my life lately.OK, the word "news" might be stretching it a bit, but I have been experiencing a lot of world press the past few months. Those of you who know me , know that I spend much of my life online, so naturally I appreciate any online recognition that I am fortunate to get, but those who have known me for a long time know that I used to be obsessed with magazines and newspapers.
I think I have always been an information junkie.Growing up in a small town there wasn't much to entertain a precocious terror like myself.When I grew tired of watching the 3-5 channels of TV we got, I devoured everything in print.Now, my parents weren't exactly book collectors so my pickings were slim.I may be one of only a handful of people who actually read the World Book Encyclopedia and one of an even smaller group of people who read the dictionary. For. Fun. Yep! a popular kid was I!
Anyway, since the internet has exploded I'm afraid I've done more than my part hammering the final nail in print media's coffin. I just need my information faster these days, New, now, next!
It makes me kind of sad, though. There's nothing like having something of substance to hold on to, the tactile feeling of the glossy page.Here's where I finally get around to the topic.....
much of my latest press has been actually in print, real paper! So, from magazines and newspapers around the world here are a few:
The New york Daily News 1/2 page article!
A fun dutch kids magazine called "7 Days" =)

The Sun UK(Thanks to Christine for posting it to me!)

And I can now die happy..... Just thumbing through the mags at the counter today at wally world and lo and behold! I'm here too! I was asked to be in this mag months ago but I never saw it and actually the copy I found was one from last week. It was kismet, I tell you!Just what every mother dreams of for her child, tabloid trash!

Monday, March 29, 2010

return of the Baylist, this time it's personal!

So happy to announce that Debbie Does Cakes has been nominated again for Best specialty foods/Desserts In the Bay area on The competition is held every two years and DDC was the 2008 winner. Now we've got to protect the title, haha! If you are so inclined a vote would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

all about a board.......

Ok, Ok, I know I vowed not not be one of those set it and forget it type of bloggers so accept my apologies..........
So, this week, and so many weeks much of what keeps me busy is total immersion in the details.I have been cursed with this need for accuracy. I will go to great lengths to be as accurate as possible. Much of the time this means using a lot more math than I ever thought I'd be using (shoulda' paid more attention in geometry!) scaling projects up or down.I will spend countless hours researching a subject on the internet.Sometimes my quest for realism has me buying beverages that I'd never ever consume (anyone want a 12 pack of root beer?), eating in and out burgers , you know just for reference =) and sometimes, just sometimes I'll show my dedication
by watching a movie just for a glimpse of the scenery or some obscure element in the film. This week I watched a few episodes of "Gilligan's Island" to get a good look at their dining table. Yep, just the table.Now, I'll admit, as sacrifices go, this one was pretty easy. Anyone who knows me, is no doubt familiar with my obsession with television. Now I realize how that is not a particularly cool thing to admit, no erudite person would actually own up to enjoying the "idiot box". I think I'm living proof that this is pure bunk, see me use the word "erudite" above. I credit TV with exposing me to all kinds of things that were not just entertaining but educational. Alas, I digress.
I did in fact get the data I needed from watching the castaways . Bet you thought I was never going to get around to the subject of my blog title, but see? Thanks for sticking with me and my pro TV rant . I set out to create a special cake board or base for my Gilligan themed cake; now that I knew what it looked like I was obligated to faithfully recreate it . Even . If. It. Killed. Me.
I set out to replicate the woven tabletop with bamboo edging.A quarter of the way through, I was asking myself, "What was I thinking???" but it was too late then, I was too invested.
So a cramped hand and a few hours later I had a pretty nice island tabletop.I'd love to say that this is the first time I was so dedicated to a mere cake board but I remembered that I'd been here many times before. To me, nothing is more sad than to go so far to create some intricate sculpture only to have the board bring it back down to "cake", if you know what I mean.Don't get me wrong, I too will use simpler coverings when necessary, sometimes it's the best option but it kills my soul just a wee, little bit.
Here I've compiled some of my more interesting bases, a long overdue spotlight on the lowly cake board.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I ♥ you

One of the greatest things about cultivating a niche business is not having to do "traditional" holiday cakes. Back in ye olde days, february was a month filled with red icing and pink for the adventurous, heart shaped sequins and cakes. Now, if I say "heart shaped cake " chances are i mean , Heart shaped, as in anatomical.Who is to say that one heart shaped cake fits all anyway? Perhaps your paramour likes zombies? demons? no problem. So, in honor of Valentine's day, I send my love and gratitude to my clients who challenge and inspire me to think outside the heart shaped box. heart decors for a valentine's day wedding

a wedding cake!
nothing says I love you like this character called "gluttony". Honestly, I think it does look valentine's -y , but that might just be me.