The Creation of Mr. Rex
I don’t do cake orders anymore since the teaching side of the business took off about two years ago. All the travelling didn’t really go well with having to meet clients and deliveries and all the rest so I made the hard decision to stop taking orders. People ask me if I miss making cakes for clients and the truth is sometimes I don’t (when I remember the difficult clients) and sometimes I really do (when I remember all the fun and cool things they let me make).
When friends and family do ask me to make something cool, I am always super excited to head back to the studio to create organically. It’s a different feeling, to be able to create without stopping every single step of the way to take pictures and notes (for a book or tutorial), redoing each step to make sure it’s really the best way to do it or having to measure and weigh out everything I used so that students in a class can recreate it over and over again.
When you are able to create without the above ‘boundaries’, sometimes magic happens and other times disaster happens. Disaster, because usually, there hasn’t been enough thought and planning. I sometimes find that I just jump right into a project and decide to ‘wing it’.
Last month, while Miso Bakes was in town, I brought her to my favourite cafe, Devon Cafe, where we found ourselves trying out their Blue Pea Flower Soft Serve Sundae (which was delicious by the way!). Just before we left, I headed to the toilet and came out to find myself with a cake order. Wait, what? How did that happen? Miso somehow used the two minutes while I was in the toilet to start to talk to one of the ladies about cakes and what we do. And so begins the fun of Mr. Rex – the t-rex cake.
I was super excited to do this order because Nick loves dinosaurs and I think the t-rex is cool in a structural way. The request was simple – it needs to be a cutesy kind of t-rex. Done!
While I was googling pictures, I realised that the poor t-rex is the butt of many jokes. HeeHee and I loved them all :).
So I started this cake organically, with not much of a plan other than it needs to stand up on one leg and have the other leg pushed back. I really did not want to be custom cutting any wood bases for the structure because:
1. I was being lazy and didn’t like the mess and noise that comes with using a mechanical tool to cut wood.
2. I’m pretty sure the little cutting tool that attaches to the hand held cutter is broken.
So I debated and researched for a few days about what I could possibly use. Finally I thought about an oval shaped piece of wood for the base of the cake. Surely these are easy to find at art stores right? But what I stumbled across was even better! A shape that feels like it was almost made for this project…
The cake board shape was perfect because the t-rex tapers in at the front for the chest and at the back for the tail. And so, he starts coming to life. His whole body was cake and because it only needed to feed a small amount of people, the head was styrofoam.
At this stage I was slightly regretting my decision to use that pre-bought cake board shape because something just didn’t look right. It looked like a whale with a tail and some legs. Hmm… But I continued, thinking that once it’s been ganached properly, it might start to look right.
But still it didn’t seem quite right. It was then that I went back to good old google and just searched for t-rex pictures. After studying some of them I realised what was wrong – the tail angle was not in line with the body position. It seems weird that something as simple as moving the tail can fix it but it totally did.
So then the head gets carved from two different sized styrofoam balls and after lots of shaving and mess, Mr. Rex is ready for his head and to come to life!
If you want to know more about texturing and colouring a 3D dinosaur, you can check out my Mr. Steggles tutorial I have for sale in my store. There are lots of step by step photos, templates, and a cake recipe too.
So once Mr. Rex was all set up, it was time for him to get his colour on. Usually with a cake that size I usually try and airbrush it outside since the fine mist of colour gets EVERYWHERE. I swear, you can be wiping a surface on the other side of the house months later and you will still see the colour. There was a time we thought our shelves were growing mouldy since every time we wiped, the cloth turned green. And then I remembered I had airbrushed a whole bunch of leaves a month before…
But it was dark and raining… so I had to make do with doing it inside with a makeshift airbrush booth.
All he needed after this was some soil, a minion (as requested by the client) and he was all done. I was extra excited about this minion because I’ve never ever made one. No one has ever asked so he was my very first 🙂 Yippie!
If you are new to airbrushing or would just like to improve your airbrush skills/ knowledge, I would really recommend the below online class by Dawn Butler of Dinky Doodle Designs. I’ve seen Dawn in action and she is like a magician when it comes to an airbrush. She even manufactures her own! Check out the class and watch the trailer below and follow the link for a special discount on the class 🙂 Enjoy!