Monday, June 28, 2010

Inspiration is Everywhere - Night Dive Edition

My week has been quite eventful since my latest blog "Cherry Blossoms and John S. Culqui Art".  On Wednesday, I attended a local Long Beach event called Stroll and Savor on 2nd Street in the Belmont Shore area. While strolling and savoring, I noticed a new mural that was distinctively done by had reminded me to message him about the blog I had just done.  As I was checking on my blog that night, I noticed that there were two comments from Andrea, avid follower and Bride of the featured cake, and the second was from JOHN S. CULQUI HIMSELF!!!! He checked out my blog before I could even tell him about it!! John invited me to an event called "Night Dive" at the Aquarium of the Pacific where he would be doing a live I decided to go check it out and actually get to meet the artist that inspired my cake.

John was very approachable and laid back just like his paintings :) I've never met this talented artist before, but he was very friendly and it felt like I was meeting a fellow buddy of mine. Some of his other works were on display that night...
There were so many beautiful things to be inspired by at the Aquarium that night....the Art, the Music, the Architecture, the Weather, the Colors, the Textures, and especially the LIFE of all the Sea heart definitely went out to all the animals suffering from the oil spill in the Gulf.
Night Dive was an awesome event and I'm glad I decided to check it out...Good vibes and positive energy all around! (I'd like to say "Thank You" to my friend Christine and my cousin Gen for going with me).  Again, it was a pleasure meeting artist John S. Culqui...I wish him all the luck and hope he continues to inspire and be inspired! Maybe I'll be able to pull from this experience one day and incorporate it into one of my future cake creations. 

~Abs of Cakes~

 p.s. The creative process is not always easy, but inspiration can be found just about anywhere...this blog was an ode to that. I promise I will feature a cake in my next blog, so stay tuned.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cherry Blossoms and John S. Culqui Art

I'm BAAAAAACK!!! I know it's been about 2 months since I've last updated my blog. I've had a very eventful May and June so far which has kept me quite busy....not to mention my Lakers have been playing in the Playoffs, so I've been very distracted!! As of Thursday June 17, 2010 the Lakers beat the despised Boston Celtics to OFFICIALLY become the NBA's Back to Back 2010 World Champions!! CONGRATULATIONS LA!!! I <3 You!  Thank you for making this the BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE and making my 28th Birthday wish come true :)

OK, now I'm back with your full undivided attention. I apologize to my followers and those anticipating some new creations. Since my last blog, I've done cakes for a couple weddings, baby showers, and many many birthdays. But for this blog I will feature probably my absolute favorite cake.  On April 17, 2010 my cousin Marvin got married to his high school sweetheart Andrea DeJesus (one of my avid followers).  Despite large families on both sides, they had a small wedding in Ojai, CA amongst their parents and siblings. Since I was not able to attend their special day, I decided to surprise them with a special mini wedding cake. I was completely inspired by art, had a vision, and executed it without any restrictions.....I truly felt like a designer for this one.

During the time of their wedding in April, there had been many Cherry Blossom celebrations and festivals. Cherry Blossoms are often used to represent Spring and symbolize the transient nature of life....which I imagined would be a perfect image to celebrate the new beginning of my cousins' lives together.  So I already knew that I wanted to incorporate them somehow into the design of this cake.  
Inspiration further ensued as I traveled through the streets of my neighborhood in Long Beach...and thank goodness for the City's Public Art Program for advocating art throughout our community and urban design. I would pass multiple traffic signal boxes, and one in particular piqued my interest....on the corner of Atlantic Ave. and Carson St. Not only are there Cherry Blossoms on it but the colors are vibrant yet simple.  
  Here are some photos of another traffic signal box on the next corner:
I became so enamored by these works of art that I decided to do some investigation about the artist.  I found out that the creator of these masterpieces is John S. Culqui.  I checked out the rest of his art and instantly fell in love with here to browse more of his artwork or check out his website: Maybe I should send him a message to let him know I'm promoting him on my blog, huh? Anyways, on to cake.....

As Andrea and I were texting back and forth about blogs one evening, I asked her what her favorite cake flavors were...little did she know I was really asking her, "What flavor would you like your surprise wedding cake to be?" From the 3 she told me, I decided on the lemon cake with cream cheese frosting.  I found a FABULOUS lemon cake recipe courtesy of Ina Garten. Now, I'm not a big fan of citrus flavored desserts but this recipe made a fan out of me!!!  It was so very moist and delicious that I even wrote my very first review on the recipe's site giving it 5 out of 5 stars!  This recipe calls for A LOT of lemons and their zest making my kitchen/dining area smell so good.
I knew I wanted to make this a multi-tiered cake, it was just a matter of what size each tier would be.  I did a few sketches as well as stacked pans to get an idea. Afterward, I lined the pans with parchment paper, made the batter, filled the pans, baked, then frosted before chilling the layers in the fridge.  I used chocolate fondant to cover and decorate each layer before stacking them. A wooden dowel was used to keep the layers intact and centered. 
On to the fun part....decorating and watching the cake come to life. I free-handed blue waves and brown branches, then piped black icing with two different sized tips for the details.
The cherry blossoms added a whole other layer and pop of color. I tried to create dimension using a ball and vein tool making the blossoms lift up from the cake rather than lay flat. They also helped cover up any blemishes and dents in the cake ;)  Lastly, I made some congratulatory messages to the happy couple to add the final touches.
Congratulations again Marvin and Andrea!! I'm happy to know that I was able to provide you two with your very own wedding cake :) Love you guys...
 ~Abs of Cake~
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