A Kansas City wedding cake, inspired by the country.
I've been away from The Blog for a while and thought my first post back should be the story behind my "Forbidden Love" wedding cake designed for Cake Masters Magazine. It is always such an honor to be contacted by a publication to design a cake for an upcoming issue! This cake will forever be one of my favorites, for many reasons.
Sometimes, the publication will give you a theme or a sub-theme within a theme. It can be anything from a general feeling to a color scheme, inspiration photo or quote. Sometimes, they just tell you to go with whatever strikes your fancy! This is where the hardest work comes in for me. My creative process involves a lot of sketching, a lot of thinking and a LOT of dreaming about cake designs until I finally have a concept I am excited about creating. Sometimes it takes a few quick sketches and other times, I go through pages of drawings and revisions before a design takes shape in my mind.
I was given the option of a few different sub-themes within the overall theme of "Love Stories" for the February issue. I mulled them over a bit, trying to decide which sub-theme lit my creative fire. This is where real life becomes inspiration! My littlest boys love the movie "Gnomeo and Juliet" (it is hilarious by the way if you haven't seen it) and the forbidden love story of Romeo and Juliet kept popping into my brain. This cake was also going to be featured in the February issue, which was both my Grandma Dot and Grandpa Dr's birth month. My grandma was a whole 8 days older than my grandpa and he used to tease her about marrying "an older woman." I loved them dearly, as did anyone who met them. My grandpa was an old-school country doctor, born to German immigrant parents who settled in Central Kansas. He had a quiet strength and a heart as big as the state of Texas. My grandma was a beautiful, graceful, talented artist, woman of faith and mother of 5 (and lover of shoes - hmmm - hereditary??) who embodied the term "lady" in every way. They married in secret and kept it hidden for several months until the semester at the University of Kansas ended and they could tell their families. For all of those reasons, I chose the sub-theme of "Forbidden Love" for my cake design.
Now that the theme was set, I needed to figure out how to translate the story of Romeo and Juliet into cake form. I went through several different ideas (and many trees and sketches) before settling on the final design. Inspiration can come in many forms, my roots growing up in small town central Kansas became the overriding inspiration for this cake design. Using Juliet roses was a no-brainer, they were just perfect for this design and the story I wanted to tell. They have a very unique center that I decided to exaggerate into a star shape so I could play on Shakespeare's "star-crossed lovers" theme. I had Juliet, now how was I going to bring Romeo into this design?
I love juxtapositions. The soft pink of the roses needed to be set off against something bold and rough. Well, follow me down the rabbit hole to see how this design came about! I grew up in a small town with loads of old farm structures in various stages of weathering. I used to love to go to my grandparents' farm (Grandma Dot and Grandpa Dr) outside town to watch my grandpa feed the hay to the cows. From my earliest memories, I have loved old barns and weathered wood. There is a beauty in the stories those old structures tell. Almost like the beginnings of gray hair that show at the temples of a life that has lived many years. Those old barns with their chipped and worn paint have years of memories stashed inside their grain. To this day, I still have a love of weathered barn wood and corrugated tin (look for some faux fondant tin in an up-coming design!)
I decided to use barn wood to bring in Romeo into this design. The deep turquoise blue, weathered wood to off-set the pale pink roses. One is delicate and soft, the other rough and worn. Complete opposites but when put together - undeniably beautiful!
Of course, we can't forget the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet's love story. The danger of their love is represented by the barbed wire, again going back to those old farm images. Barbed wire doesn't look too terribly dangerous unless you see it up close and happen to prick your finger and need a tetanus shot (the same for rusty nails. Good thing my Grandpa Dr!)
The only key to the locked heart is hanging from one of the barbs. The bias relief field of flowers to represent the purity of their love that Romeo and Juliet felt could overcome any danger.
From a central Kansas love story inspiration to a Kansas City wedding cake, this cake will be a sentimental favorite of mine forever. Every time I look at it, I will remember my roots and how deep they go, no matter where I am!