I was over the moon to win an award for my cake toppers last week at the Bristol and Somerset Wedding Awards as the votes that led me to victory came from the lovely brides and grooms I've had the pleasure of working with over the last year - words can't express just how grateful I am and, if you voted, I'm sending a big virtual hug your way to say thank you! If you're a regular visitor to my site and blog, you'll probably have read the stories behind some of the cake toppers I've made, but I thought it would be nice to share with you a few little secrets about my trademark toppers, which will hopefully give you a bit of insight into the process if you're thinking of ordering a set or at least make you smile :)
1. I make every figure from scratch.
Yes, I thought it went without saying but I was once asked how I differentiated between figures when they don't have faces. Each head and body is made individually so that I can give a sense of height differences and, for the brides, dress shape. The male figure's head tends to be more oval in shape, whereas the female's is more rounded. This is for the cute factor!
2. Noses and mouths make the figures look less like you.
Sounds daft, I know, but by just adding eyes to the faces, I feel it makes them look more like the actual couple. Noses and mouths are distinctive features and can completely change the look of the figure so I choose not to add them to bring the focus to the other details, like the hair or outfit. It adds to the cute factor too and has become my trademark style :)
3. They only really come together when the hair goes on.
Adding the hair is one of my favourite parts because it makes the figures come to life. I love creating the intricate details of bridal up-do's but adding just the right amount of stubble on the groom's head is a little more tricky!
4. The groom usually takes longer to make.
For sooo many reasons! Brides dresses can take a while, don't get me wrong, but trying to get a strip of clay to sit like a suit jacket and adding lapels and collars is often more fiddly! If he has very short hair, I cut teeny tiny pieces of clay to give the stubble effect, and although it takes a bit longer, it really does make a difference.
5. A pair of cake toppers can sometimes take a whole day to make.
When quoting brides and grooms for a set of cake toppers, I tend to do a breakdown of costs for what they're purchasing but I realised a little while ago that nobody really knows how long they take to make, which of course I have to factor into the price. Depending on the details, a set of cake toppers can take anywhere between 3 and 7 hours to make. I make all the details you ask for out of clay, that includes tattoos and lace overlays on dresses, which can be quite fiddly at times but I think the extra effort makes them that little bit more special.
6. I have to mix most of the colours
You can get so many colours in the Fimo clay range these days but nine times out of ten, I will have had to mix up a few colours for your cake toppers. I always start with a pinky-white clay and then add different coloured clays to it to achieve different skin colours and in some cases, I bake a little bit of the clay before I make the figures to make sure that it's a reasonable likeness to the pictures I'm sent. You'll often find me sat in my work room for a good 15 minutes mixing up ivory or trying to soften the navy colour I have or darken the grey - I'm never fully happy until I've tried to get as close a match as I can to the pictures you've sent me.
7. Black clay gets everywhere
My hands, the surfaces, the other clays...and it's one of the hardest to work with for larger figures, such as cars as it's so soft and overworking it just makes it softer and more difficult to hold a shape. Great for making a mess though! Which brings me on to number 8...
8. Baby wipes have become my best friend
I honestly don't know what I'd do without them now! They're essential for wiping my work surface and all my tools but also for cleaning my hands in between clay colours and wiping any dust off the figures before they're baked - I wrap the baby wipe around a paintbrush to make sure I don't gouge any clay out with my fingernails!
9. I find horses easier to make than dogs or cats
No rhyme or reason here! I can carve the shape of a horse out of clay but dogs especially come in such a variety of shapes and sizes so they present a bigger challenge whereas cats eyes are also quite tricky to get right.
10. It's not that easy to change things once they're made (but of course I'll always do what I can!)
I always send a photo of the cake toppers to my brides and grooms before I bake them to make sure that all the details are ok but on the odd occasion, I may have made the hair colour darker or missed the pattern that's on the tie that's stuck under a waistcoat, which is under a jacket...of course I'll do what I can to change things that people really aren't happy with but, as I work from photographs, it's really important to have clear images with descriptions if possible. I always feel silly asking brides and grooms to describe their hair colours when they've sent me pictures but you'd be surprised at how much hair colours can vary in photos!
11. I can keep secrets
I keep your cake toppers a secret until after your wedding day but I've worked with a few grooms over the years who have designed their cake toppers as a surprise for their bride. I've made simple, but pretty, dresses in some cases or checked dress details with the bride so none of her secrets are given away. But by far the most memorable groom to work with was Owen, who managed to keep the cake toppers a surprise, not only for his gorgeous bride Becky, but for himself too! Owen gave me all the details about his outfit, Becky's love of books and how he'd like the base and then I worked with Becky's maid of honour to complete the details for Becky. Neither the bride or groom saw the finished cake topper until it was on their wedding cake but I'm happy to report they both loved the end result!
12. There's a lot of trial and error
I have been known to remake whole figures if I don't feel they're right and there's a slight chance that the first pictures that you get to see will be the second or even third version that have been made.
13. Pictures never do them justice
I have a fairly good camera that I use to take pictures after the cake toppers have been baked but brides always email me to say they look even better when they see them in real life as they're able to look at all the little details that make them such a sentimental little keepsake.
14. I love how they make people smile!
And that's why I love my job! The attention to detail pays off because couples can recognise something of themselves in them and that's what makes them so special :)