Sunday, May 4, 2014

It's International Star Wars Day - May The Fourth Be With You!

The force is strong today! In honor of International Star Wars Day, we're sharing some of our favorite cakes. . May the 4th Be With You!
A long, long time ago - roughly 6 years - back when cakelava still did custom decorated cupcakes, Rick made this Star Wars cupcake tower with Death Star top tier for our client's son Lane in celebration of his 9th birthday. Each cupcake had a different Star Wars character, that was handmade by Rick. He spent a crazy amount of time making the cupcakes, but it was worth it when we saw how happy the family was!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

In Celebration of Those 90 Years Old, and Above

In all our years of having a custom cake business, Rick has made only a handful of cakes for people celebrating their 90th birthday. It seems the older someone gets, the less likely they will have a custom cake made, at least that has been the case with our company. I would be curious to know if it is the same is true for you. We've made more birthday cakes for people turning 70 or 80 than 90, and even more common are birthday cakes for the big 5-0 or 6-0. I haven't kept track of which decade is the most celebrated with a custom cake, but if I had to guess, I would say the 40-year olds would probably be the winner in the most celebrated decade category. For us, the age that really takes the cake are the 1-year olds. The first birthday celebration is a huge deal in Hawaii. Parents often begin planning the baby's first birthday party way in advance, and we've had clients contact us within days of the baby's birth to order their first birthday cake. It's clear people think turning 1 is extremely important, and it is, but I also think that people who have lived long enough to reach a milestone like 90 - just 10 years shy of 100 years old - deserve to be celebrated as much as those with a whole life ahead of them.

I remember the joy I felt when we were hired by the company's president to make a 95th birthday cake for Lex Brodie of Lex Brodie's, a well known tire company who prides themselves on service, "Thank You, Very Much!", with a long history in Hawaii. Rick sculpted a cake in the shape of a tire, complete with a real rim, provided by Lex Brodie's, of course! Since Lex Brodie was a household name when I was growing up, I felt honored and excited when my husband was hired to make his cake. Lex was a hugely accomplished businessman who lived a very long life and deserved to have an amazing cake! I recall during the time when Rick was working on Lex's cake our client said we'll have to do something special for his 100th birthday, and we all looked forward to it. Sadly, Lex passed away last year at the age of 98 and the custom tire cake was the last cake we would make for him.

Our most recent 90th birthday cake was requested by our client, who is one of the sweetest people we know, and we have made many cakes for over the years. She wanted to honor her mother with a special 90th birthday cake. I thought of the 95th birthday cake we made for Lex Brodie and the 90th birthday Sun Conure bird cake for "Granny" and how honored we felt to be included in their milestone celebrations. It is truly special to create for someone who has lived life for a decade (or less) shy of a century. The request alone was worth getting excited about, but then we heard what our client wanted and we were ecstatic to make it!

The cake would be based on vintage postcard photos of her mother shown in her youth. In one of the postcards she gathers ferns and in another one, sitting on a wall. Our client asked Rick if he could make a cake with her mother sitting on a rock wall surrounded by the foliage. We were immediately smitten with the idea and proposed a design, which she loved! We thought the postcard images were so beautiful. It was classic Hawaii in all its natural beauty and we knew this cake would be very special, both to our client and her mother. We couldn't wait to get started!

Every decoration was important because we had to convey a specific location, but the most important component was the custom figurine of our client's mother. When modeling a 3D figure, you need many photos to work from. In addition to photos taken during that same time period, Rick studied photos of her mother taken at a later age so she would be recognizable at any age. When archiving photos from 60 to 70 years earlier, there isn't the convenience of the digital family archives so common in today's world, so we had fewer references to look at. Our client spent time researching the photos, which we are grateful for, and sent us whatever she could find of her mother back then and current phtotos.

When the cake was delivered, our client and her family loved the cake and couldn't wait to show it to the guest of honor. The family couldn't have chosen a more appropriate venue for the party, which was at a well-known restaurant with a lush tropical setting that feels like you stepped into old Hawaii. After the party, we were told the cake was a big hit and her mother said "that's me" and instantly recognized herself at the location she was photographed for the postcard. We were so happy to hear that. Those words meant Everything!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Grand Wedding Cake in Black and White
This 3 foot tall towering black and white squares wedding cake made for Aren and Dustin is one of our favorites so far this year! The couple were married back in February, but I held off writing about it until we received the professional image of the cake from their photographer, Mike Pham Photography. Our jaws fell to the floor when we saw Mike's photo - it's a beauty!

We first met Aren and Dustin last fall, when they asked Rick to design for them a grand and elegant wedding cake that would be the center of attention. The cake would be done as all squares in black, white and silver - their wedding colors - and have a damask pattern on some of the tiers. Rick would also integrate elements from the bride's second dress, which was silver with a black lace overlay. Since the cake would be designed with a striking  pattern on each tier, Rick kept the use of handcrafted flowers to a minimum with a single bunch on top with the couple's "G initial of their married name.

Making a wedding cake of all squares is more difficult than round shapes. Squares have precise edges and demand perfection in their shaping and placement. When the tiers are as tall as these were, they must be very straight, and it requires a confidence in your craft to apply the fondant. One not-so-perfectly placed tier can affect every cake above it. Having a black on white precise pattern on each tier, left little room for error. It is worth mentioning that Aren is an architecture student, which added pressure to make the edges as straight as can be and the pattern be ultra-precise. We took our responsiblity to the couple seriously!

After the cake was made and decorated, there was one more hurdle - the delivery! The couple's reception was at an outdoor venue on the hotel's property that was located, in delivery terms, very far from our vehicle. The 3 foot tall cake was transported e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y carefully on a cart down a long hall with uneven cobblestone flooring. Then, once outside the hotel, we carted the cake to the reception venue, which was also a trek. I'm sure any cake professional can sympathize, but it felt like the color had escaped from our face and we couldn't breathe normally until the cake was safely delivered to the cake table. Lifting the cake and placing it on the cake table felt AMAZING, and seeing the expression on our bride's face when she saw her gorgeous cake made all the efforts so worth it!

I'm thrilled to report that we and the couple were tremendously happy with their cake, as were their guests. Just a couple days after their wedding, we received the sweetest thank you note from Aren and Dustin!

Dearest Rick and Sasha,

Words cannot express how thankful we are for the gorgeous wedding cake you designed for us. Every guest was in awe. They couldn't believe the cake was real, we were even complimented by the hotel staff as they had never seen a cake so grand. On top of that it was delicious! Of all the pieces of our wedding the cake was the most exciting piece for me, I couldn't stop talking about it to my new husband. I am so grateful to have found you. Thank you for helping to make our wedding day so much more than we could've ever imagined.

Congratulations to Aren and Dustin, and we wish them our very best!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Rainbow Connecting Hawaii and New York
On November 13, 2013 Hawaii Governor, Neil Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing gay marriage, and same-sex couples were allowed to marry starting December 2nd. Having spent my childhood through high school years on Oahu, I recall back in the early '90s when Hawaii was at the forefront of states allowing same-sex unions, but then later amended its constitution to ban those same unions in 1998. The topic of gay marriage is a divisive one, and if you are in the wedding industry in one of the 17 states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal, it is likely at some point you will be approached by a couple wanting to hire you. If you live in Hawaii - one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world - that point will be sooner rather than later.

Ever since we opened our doors back in 2005, cakelava has welcomed any couple to have a special custom cake designed for them. Most recently, we had the pleasure of designing this beautiful wedding cake for Val and Susan who celebrated their marriage after more than 20 years of being together. When we started communicating with Val and Susan, they desired to have Hawaii and New York, where they were both from, represented on the cake in some way. Their requests were simple - Hawaii, New York and a Rainbow, to symbolize their union. Rick decided to take a very stylized, colorful and artistic approach to their cake, bringing together elegance and a traditional shape with an unconventional and playful design. He decided to have a night time scene for New York City, because that is when the city comes alive, and a sunny beach scene for Hawaii, combining the best of two of our favorite places in the world, into one beautiful cake!

Val and Susan adored their cake and wrote us shortly after to say how much they and their guests loved it. Apparently, the kids at the wedding were drawn to the little taxi cabs, which we thought was so cute! I love this cake and the cute NYC taxi cabs make me smile every time I look at them! Congratulations to Val and Susan!

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