Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If you're gonna make a giant cupcake, you might as well make it light up.

Let me introduce you to
The Cupcake Of Whimsy

My roommate called this "The Deathstar of Whimsies. With sprinkles."

This monument to all things sweet and dessert was made for a recent craft swap called The Jar of Whimsies. 
The goal of the swap was to take your partners likes and create or find some kind of container for them and fill it with "whimsies" which could be any small item your partner would enjoy. At the end of the swap there is a voluntary contest for best "jar." This was the first time I had ever done this swap so I knew I wanted to do something big and different. When I got my partner's survey and saw she loved cutesy cakes and cupcakes, building a giant cupcake box seemed obvious.
 Then it was just a matter of figuring out how, which I probably never would have done if it wasn't for this wonderful tutorial on faux cupcakes . Celebrate Creativity is a great blog with tons of easy to follow tutorials. For my cupcake, it was easy to adapt her methods to a larger scale.

So this is the story of how this, a mere floral foam half ball, a wooden tambour (the stuff used on roll-top writing desks and breadboxes), a wooden circle plaque, miniature purple lights, and a container of lightweight Spackle,

Became this

This whole piece came together really by chance. While brainstorming how to actually construct the cupcake I considered a lot of different mediums. My first idea was to simply cover a cylinder canister in corrugated paper to give the appearance of a cupcake wrapper.  This lead to a brief escapade of ordering what was labeled as "red corrugated paper" off of ebay, only to find when it arrived that it was not textured at all but just printed with lines to look corrugated. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. 

After returning the paper to the seller, making sure they should know to make note that the paper is not actually what it is labeled as, I needed a new idea. My roommate mentioned "the stuff from those old fashioned writing desks" and it seemed perfect! However, after finding that not only were the tambours, as we learned they were called, hard to find but they were expensive as well, I was frustrated and back at square one. 

Once every week or two weeks my mother drives out to see me on her day off and we visit the billions of thrift stores around my house. Usually we are on a mission for something for a project for me. My mother loves when we are searching for something for me to turn into something else. It ends up being a scavenger hunt for us. On one particular day we were walking through one of our favorite shops and I was telling her all about my frustrations and how we thought of the perfect medium but what were the chances of ever finding any? 

Literally, as we were discussing the concept of the wooden roll-top pieces, we turned the corner into the next aisle and saw TWO of them piled up and marked with $0.99. Truly the thrift store goddess was smiling down upon us. 

After finding that, constructing the cupcake went pretty quickly. The wood was cut to fit around the circle plaque and then nailed into place. The floral foam half sphere was a little smaller than the container ended up being. So I cut a disk of craft foam board from an old piece I had laying around to make up the difference.

I really should have known better.  If you have ever touched floral foam, you know it pretty much starts to disintegrates when you handle it. It turns into a fine green dust that is harmful to breath and can cause mild skin irritations, so I was quite angry with myself for buying it by mistake. To combat this since I was going to need to be able to handle it a lot, I gave it a thick coat of white acrylic paint. The base was painted a bright bubblegum pink and sealed with a gloss finish.

The lights were the very first thing that I found before I even got my partner. Thrift store for $0.50, originally from Ikea. I had no clue what I would do with them, if anything, but I knew whatever I was going to make would probably be much cooler if I could manage to make it light up. So some tiny purple lights and a bunch of staples and....

Tada! Instantly this project is much more awesome.

The Spackle smelled so awful for being such a lovely color. I want to pause for a moment here and talk about the medium I used to tint the "icing." There is a bottle of red food dye in the shot which I did use a drop or two of but it's effect was not even close to what I wanted. I found that the answer to my problem was one of my favorite supplies in my stash.

The Pearl Ex Pigments by Jacquard are simply AMAZING. They come in 40 different colors. The color I used here is an iridescent pink from their Duo collection, in certain lights there is a shine of blue to it. They are such a versatile medium  that you can mix into or dust onto any wet paint, ink, glaze, whatever. They can also be rubbed onto paper to give a soft subtle shine, and about a billion other ways you can use them anywhere you want to add a flash or tint of shine.  I love this stuff so much that I had to share it with you all. Also, I wanted to say thanks to my partner for including the tiny blue scoop spoon because I had nothing to use before and was just tapping the pigment into whatever I needed. :) It was quite useful in mixing the perfect shade for the frosting.

Very much just like frosting a cake, this step was simple enough. The spackle needed to be built up around the lights so that none of the excess plastic bits showed. The edges needed a thick layer to fill in the space around the bottom.

 It did not take long for the Spackle to harden enough that it was more or less stable and sturdy. I pressed small seed beads one by one into the surface to look like sugar sprinkles. I also want to point out the inside of the container because this is the one of the only shots I have that shows it. I glued in a soft black bedsheet material and lined the edge with pink grommet tape.

Also I think my dreads look cute, but that is neither here nor there.

 Filled with whimsies.

My partner Lindy was able to get this gorgeous shot of the lights! My camera never wanted to show them this good.


  1. You are too awesome for words.

  2. I absolutely adore my giant cupcake! Thank you so much for all the work you put into it. I am so happy that I actually got to see a bit of the creative process!