Monthly Archives: February 2011

What’s in your tool box?

I often get asked “what’s in the box?” I have a big gray pastry box. I keep all my sugar tools in it. And for events, everything needed for emergency repairs. It can get quite heavy depending on how much sugar I am carrying. I pack like an artist AND a pastry chef.

This is what is usually in my box.
1 hacksaw
1 rasp
3 grades of sand paper
Coarse grade sanding sponge
scrubby sponge sheet
E-xacto knife +blades

Paint brushes
Wide pastry brushes
Gel paints
Clay tools
2-3 pallet knives
Luster dust
Wire cutters
Empty cups
Soft towels

A can of pastry varnish
A pound of fondant
A pound of royal icing
A pound of gum paste
A bottle of gin

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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Sugar


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Update: Let them eat cake

I’ve started the preliminary designs for the English great hall which will be the centerpiece of my cake. So far it is looking big. Almost 30″ tall, 45″ wide. I will have to transport everything in pieces and then assemble the day of. The cake has to travel from Philadelphia. I cannot trust that a period cake is going to handle the transport and stacking. This is going to be heavy.

I’ve decided I am going to do a modern cake recipe with period flavors. I will be using my culinary school bakeshop recipe. It produces a dense cake with a small uniform crumb. It is the type of recipe you would find in a commercial bakery. It will stack and transport well. The period work will come in the great hall construction, which will be sugar and gingerbread. The windows will be poured sugar.

When doing gingerbread or other house construction, you need a road map. A to scale drawing if you will. You build the house like a construction project. Here is the lower floor (if you were hanging from the roof). You can see the fireplace, windows, pillars for the arches and main table. You can also see this is not a completely walled in building. I want you to be able to see inside, similar to a doll house. You should get the illusion that you can just walk right in and sit down (if you were 3″ high).

Other floors/views will be forthcoming.

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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Projects, Sugar


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Update: KQAS 2011

The projects went over pretty well. My sugar work was definitely the strongest of the 3 entries and the most popular.  Though the coat caught a lot of attention. Documentation was hit or miss. It either got a 8-9 out of ten or a 2-3 out of ten (for the same item).

Documentation: Mamluk Qarqal
Documentation: Sugar Tyger

Here is the Mamluk fire coat all completed:

Here is Sparky:

I put out 4 disks to show the progression of sugar build up for structural integrity. Also I wanted to show what kind of tools are used for sugar sculpture work (ignore the roller, it is for the fabrics to remove hair, lint, and stray threads).

Thanks to Cateline la Broderesse for taking pictures!

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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Artillery, Projects, Sugar


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Update: Heraldic cote- Baron Lawrence Thornguard

The cote is underway.The design has been decided upon.

I’ve started working on the parts that do not require a fitting. The first lion has been appliqued and the second is ready to go. Lions are a matched set, one for each sleeve. 100% linen, on linen fabric.

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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Fencing Armor, Heraldic, Sewing


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Update: Heraldic cassock- Don Griffith Davion of the Argent Tyger

We have settled on the final design. Fabric has been washed and the buttons have arrived.

I have started the applique design for the heraldic cassock.  The sleeve is a printed black linen/cotton blend. Applique is  linen. I will probably go over the tyger with some fabric paint to make it more opaque.


Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Fencing Armor, Heraldic, Sewing, Uncategorized


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Let Them Eat Cake!

I am more than likely going to go this event and bringing cake.

The gist of it is to make a 2′-4′, stacked, sculpted cake. It is very much Food Network in nature, complete with a move from the work table to a judging surface.This is a technical challenge. More in line with what kind of engineer you are, coupled with some art skills. 

I am not sure how people are going to do the "historically accurate" cake. What we know as cake, isn’t period.  What we know as frosting, isn’t period. Stacking cakes, isn’t period. There isn’t anything about this whole competition that uses techniques which are "historically accurate". Maybe some of the gumpaste work, if you choose to do any of that would be considered period.

  1. Cake is heavy.
  2. Sugar is heavy.
  3. Structures are heavy.
  4. Cake doesn’t like to be stacked.
  5. Cake sheds like there’s no tomorrow.
  6. Cake doesn’t travel well.

This is going to be a HEAVY structure. Very, very heavy. In looking at period cake, there are a number of late period recipes.  Several of which look very tasty. But not suitable for modern cake sculpture construction. I was thinking I wanted to do a historically accurate cake.  But I am thinking it is going to have to be just for fun. If just because of the cake component alone.

And this is me…explaining things poorly
I want to do a 4" cake base, with a 2-2.5 ft sugar/gingerbread sculpture (that has a chance of being period).  The sculpture would be of an English great hall, with a feast scene. Room would be decorated with banners and weapons, shredded wheat rushes, fireplace, people, feasty type foods and poured sugar glass windows. 

I can see this piece as clear as if it were here next to me.
I can taste the flavors of the cake.
I know how the architecture needs to be constructed.
I can feel how the sugar wants to be worked.

The Voice of Reason(tm), said if I really wanted to do this, do it.  Do it because I want to, not because anyone else wants/expects me to.  Because I want to.  4 small words and actually very selfish.  Not for the ‘good’ of the populace, not for ‘self promotion’, not for a Queen who ‘wants people to make cake’.  But because I want to.

My brain has already wrapped itself around the idea.  It WANTS to do the sculpture part of the piece (cake is just a base to sit on, tasty, but secondary). I want to do this. Not because I ‘could win’. But because it feels like the right thing to do. Part of my soul is standing up and doing the happy dance.* It’s been yelling at me to reconnect with that part of me that does "art" for a long time.

I think this is my deepest, darkest secret. I am one of those crazy, driven artist types. Maybe I should listen to my own advice and "do what brings me great passion and joy". 


Yeah. This is a post about joy. This started out as a post about doing a cake for coronation.  It’s ending with me, learning more about me. Hmmm.  Funny how that works sometimes.

*I feel the same way when I have a blade in my hand or black powder on my clothes. 

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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Projects, Sugar


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Elysabeth Underhill- Harlequin veil

The Harlequin is the Bhakail baronial award for excellence in the Arts and Sciences. The token is a jester’s head on a blue ribbon.  She is one of my students for cooking and sewing, so I wanted to do something a little different for Lissa.  Instead of a token on ribbon, I made a linen veil with an applique jester head, trimmed in blue cord.

Most period jesters wore animal heads as hats.  We made her head a sheep, since she does a lot of spinning and knitting. The ears of the hat have bells sewn on (so we can hear her coming a mile a way). The whole image is about 2 1/2 inches in height. The hat is fuzzy and soft to the touch.

We took inspiration from this image.

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Posted by on February 6, 2011 in Baronial, Regalia, Sewing


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