Friday, October 28, 2016

Stop Motion Wire Animation Video DIY

A few years ago the handcrafted jewelry market began to explode. There were so many people making wire jewelry, I knew I had to add something a little different to my crafty wire repertoire. I began experimenting with stop-motion wire animations and soon found that people loved the idea.

I created wire animations--everything from Happy Anniversary greetings to casual marketing videos with wire logos--and people loved them. Meeting the demand became a tedious undertaking, though, mostly because I was producing a lot of videos but not charging enough for my services.

Manipulating wire into dancing and moving is big fun. I loved creating those videos; but, thanks to my old laptop's untimely demise via the blue screen of death, I lost my creative momentum.
Of course, you can still be a wire-animation dynamo if you choose.

Anyone can do it

Wire animation is not difficult to do, but it takes a lot of determination. The process is actually quite simple. But not everyone has the patience it takes to form wire letters, angles, and curves while taking a picture after each slight movement. A brief 25-second video can require hundreds of photos, so the process can be a bit lengthy and tedious.  

Check out the simple stop-motion wire animation video above, and if you're interested in learning more, see the instructions below.

Step by Step Instructions

Assemble your materials and tools

  • It takes a few feet of wire to form even the shortest word or name. I buy coils of inexpensive copper wire from local hardware stores. 
  • You'll need basic jewelry-making tools to form your wire: wire cutters, pliers, and round nosed pliers. If you don't have them, try borrowing them from a jewelry-making friend.
  • I use a 35 mm camera, but some cell cameras produce such high-quality photos, you might get great results with your phone. 

Set up your workspace

Before you begin capturing wire pictures, mount your camera facing downward over your work surface. That way each photo will be the same distance from your work surface to your camera. Each shot will have the same illumination.

If you have no way to mount your camera facing downward, hold it as still as you can when you take your photos. You can buy a photography light box to help you with this or construct your own box, like this DIY version in the Wikihow article "How to Create an Inexpensive Photography Lightbox." Instead of a side opening, you'll need to photograph your wire shapes from an opening on top of your light box.

Start with an idea

You should begin with a simple project, perhaps a short name. Bend the wire to begin the first letter and snap at least one photo for each wire movement. As you form each curve or angle, make sure you keep your wire in the same spot.

It will take hundreds of photos to capture each angle or curve of your letters.

Then get Creative

Wire people and shapes add creativity to your project, but they also make it a bit more complicated.

If you choose to add creative pieces, create them first and mix them into your animation.

Finish your video

  • Once you've taken all of your photos, drag and drop each in order into a video editing program like Movie Maker.
  • After you complete the process of adding your photos to the video timeline, save it as a video.

"My Name is Carol"

  • Once you save your video, your wire should "come alive", spelling out words all by itself. 
  • If parts of your video are choppy or don't transition smoothly, consider adding a few more photos to your time line. 

Have fun!
Carol, The Nice Lady

Copyright TheNiceLady 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Make a Ghost on a Stick and do it With Hip-Hop Style

Ghost on a Stick Arrangement
Great for tabletop decor
Halloween is almost here, and That Ghost on a Stick Guy asked me to remind you that there's still time for you to make your fun and crafty ghost on a stick Halloween decor.

It's easy and fun, and you can get the materials inexpensively from your local craft store. If you click play on the video below, the Ghost on a Stick Guy will tell you exactly how to do it.

He's cool and really fun to listen to. You can even dance and sing along--Boo, Boo, Boo!--as you craft your Halloween decorations. But if you're not into Hip-Hop craft instructions, here's what you do.

You only need a few materials

  • A Styrofoam ball
  • Some fabric
  • Some tape (or glue)
  • A black marker
  • A stick, of course

That Ghost on a Stick Guy
Put your Ghost Together

  • Stick your stick into your Styrofoam ball (If you're a kid or a clumsy adult, you may need a little help.)
  • Tape it into place, or glue it if you prefer.
  • Drape some fabric on top. Preferably white--you know, for a ghost. (I used an old tee shirt)
  • Draw on a face--a face, a smile, or just the eyes if you choose.

  • For an interesting look, layer some sheer colorful fabric on top of the white. 
  • Tie your fabric into place with a fabric strip, or use ribbon or yarn. 
  • Now wave your Ghost on a Stivk in the air and say, Boo, Boo, Boo!!

Just for Fun

Check out these cute kids doing their own version of "Ghost on a Stick- Electric Boogaloo."


5 Things You Can Do to Make the Most of Your Arts and Crafts Shows Efforts

Traveling, Loading, Unpacking, Setting Up... And That's Just the Beginning

Sarah Center Jewelry Artist Sell at Fountain Square

Selling handcrafted jewelry at arts and craft shows is exhausting work. Why not make the most of it? You'll spend days making your creations. On show days, you will load your car, travel to the venue, unload, unpack and set up; and that's just the beginning. You'll spend hours talking to people, and selling... hopefully. At the end of the day, whether or not you've made a single dollar, you must tear down, pack up and make the long drive home.
1- Kick Your Jewelry Making Creativity up a Notch
Your craft show success will be limited until you shift your jewelry making into a higher creative zone. Go beyond simple starter projects. Take a class to learn a new technique. Read information on developing your style. Practice what you already know and push yourself to try new things. If you're already good, challenge yourself to do even better.
Don't rush your creativity. If you usually make jewelry an hour at a time, try a 4 or 5 hour work session instead. Concentrated time working your craft will produce a creative spark. It will push your jewelry making style into high gear, and new ideas will come out of nowhere. Your arts and craft show customers will notice the difference.
2- Find a New Thing During Your "Down Time"
Most Jewelry makers have an annual down time between Christmas and the first spring craft show. Sales at online sites like Etsy or Ebay will also hit a slump. That down time is perfect for resting, but why not use it to enhance your handcrafted jewelry making style?
Add a new thing to your jewelry line. If earrings are your big seller, try bracelets and anklets too. Experiment with ear cuffs or rings. Use only amethyst or turquoise in every piece you make for one show. Write poetry or wise sayings to adorn your jewelry cards. Try something, anything different from what you usually do. Showcase your bizarre or elegant or quirky new thing at your next event and yours will become the must see jewelry booth at the arts and craft show.
3- Redo Your Display Once a Year
Lots of people design a craft show display and keep it forever. Variety is far more interesting. Don't change your basic background color. Regular customers might not recognize your booth as they walk by. Make simple changes with colorful decorative touches. Try something new each year.
Mix in gold fabric or trim. Add plush black velvet necklace boards or tie dyed table covers. Find an interesting print to drape overhead. Rescue an abandoned department store mannequin and give it a fabulous paint job. Dress yourself to coordinate with your new display. Your jazzy new look will get customers into your booth. Then they'll be overwhelmed by your new jewelry style. The combination can add up to a great day.
4- Make Each Sale a Big Production
Don't be the jewelry artist who sends arts and craft show customers home with a crumpled, reused plastic grocery bag. Give them the upscale treatment. Make your sale a big production. Pull out your pretty tissue paper with a grand flourish. Carefully wrap your customer's jewelry selections like the treasures they are. Smile and say thank you as you slip them into a pretty color coordinated bag.
There's a cost involved, of course; but the money will come back to you when your craft show sales soar. If you pay the extra pennies for beautiful packaging, strangers carrying their craft show jewelry in crumpled plastic bags will be drawn to your customer's purchases. They may ask to peek inside their pretty bags. Then they'll come looking for you.
By the way, being Green is fine, but go Green with pretty recycled packaging instead of crumpled grocery store cast offs.
5- Keep Smiling
Your arts and craft show day will take a lot of work, but that doesn't mean you have to be a grumpy Gus. Smiling will help your day pass more quickly. Your smile will be the perfect welcome for your customers. You'll notice the difference when you're counting your money at the end of the day.
20 Years arts and craft show experience

From a Featured Crafts article previously published on Yahoo Contributor Network

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Make a Quick and Easy Baby Head Support with a Sock

When my daughter and son-in-law left the hospital with their first baby, they settled him into a high tech car seat to get him home safely. That seat was so big and my new grandson was so small, his little head kept wobbling back and forth. They purchased a head support; but he quickly outgrew it.

As he grew chubbier, his neck still wasn't quite strong enough to support his growing baby weight. Instead of buying a new head support, my daughter had a craftier solution.
"Socks," she told me while I visited one day.

Somewhere between diaper changes, baby laundry and watching hubby take on the challenge of 3:00 a. m. feedings, she realized a sock could be easily transformed into a simple baby head support. She's not crafty like her mom, so she left the how-to up to me.

She was right, a sock head support is easy to make. Even if you've never graduated beyond sixth grade sewing class skills, you'll find it super easy. You need about 15 minutes of your time and a few simple materials to finish the task.

Sock options
Just like my daughter, you've no doubt selected your baby's furnishings with love and care. When you choose a sock to make his head support, you'll want to continue that same caring trend.

A lady's cotton tube sock will work best for this project. Tube socks are long and straight with no curves. Choose one with perky colors, patterns or a tone that goes with your baby's car seat. If you can't find a tube sock in a pattern you adore, use a regular knee sock, the heel curve won't be that noticeable if you position it the right way.

You might even go organic, but a used cotton sock in good condition may be just as good for baby. A used sock that's been washed again and again will be soft and clean and perfect for your head support craft project. It will be a green choice as well because you'll be reusing your old sock instead of pitching it into the trash.

Additional Supplies
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Color coordinated heavy duty thread
  • Fiber fill - Use organic cotton or bamboo fiber fill for a green/sustainable fiber fill option. Organic cotton and bamboo stuffing cost a bit more; but you'll have plenty left over for future projects.
Beginning your baby's head support
  • It's as easy as one, two, three, stuff.
  • Roll most of your sock down and begin filling the toe with stuffing.
  • Unroll the sock some more and add more filling.
  • Keep up the process until you've filled all but the final inch of sock.
  • Use enough stuffing to make your support firm enough to support baby's head, but soft enough to curve like a U.
Finishing your baby's head support:
  • Hand stitch a single row around the top of your stuffed sock.
  • Don't cut the the thread when you're done.
  • Pull the thread gently to gather the sock top into a smaller opening.
  • Gently tuck the edges to the inside.
  • Close the opening with enough stitches to secure it and keep it closed.
Baby's bigger, now what?

Like my little grandson, your newborn will grow so fast you may need a narrower head support in a month or two. You can make another just like this one using less stuffing and a narrower sock. You may also simply cut open the first one, remove some stuffing and smooth the remaining stuffing over the length of the sock. Stitch along one side to make it slimmer, then stitch the end to re-close.

When your baby no longer needs his head support, you can always use it as a mommy neck roll. It will be great for supporting your neck on those late nights while you're rocking your little one back to sleep.

Article was iriginally published on Yahoo Voices

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Create a Sling-Style Plant Hanger from an Old Pair of Jeans

A Denim Window Garden

I say give me a pair of jeans and I can do anything. That's how I created this denim window garden. It gave my ferns enough style to get excited about. Okay, plants don't get excited; but it's not really about the plants now is it? 
I just wanted a change. When I can transform something old into something new, that makes the change even better. Here I used an old pair of jeans to create a sling-style plant holder and two flower container covers. It's a great project for anyone who wants to give their plants a new attitude.
You'll need these materials:
  • One pair of old or too-small blue jeans (no bell bottoms please)
  • A 2 liter plastic bottle
  • Thread the same color as the top stitching on your jeans or simply use whatever color you have.
You'll also need:
  • A sewing machine or you can hand stitch everything if you prefer
  • Hand sewing needles
  • A stitch ripper
  • Scissors
  • A pencil or marker
  • Straight pins
  • A safety pin
  • A flower pot or planters to transform with denim

Idea #1- Make a Sling-style Denim Holder and Planter- 35 Minutes

  • Cut off one jean leg just below the crotch.
  • Lay it out flat.
  • Use a pencil or marker to draw an 
  • elongated "U" on the front.
  • The curve of your "U" should be 6 inches from the bottom hem.
  • The "U" legs should go all the way to the top of your piece.
  • If you prefer using a "U" pattern, cut one from newspaper and pin it in place with straight pins.
  • Cut away the "U" shape from your jean leg. If it's easier, cut one side first, then the other.
  • Pin a 1/2 inch hem along the raw edges of the "U" shapes.
  • Hand or machine stitch the hems into place.
  • If you prefer not to hem them, zig-zag stitch or fray the edges by removing a few  threads.
Finish the bottom so it can hold a container:
  • Cut an 8 inch by 1/2 inch strip of denim from the fabric you just cut away.
  • Use a stitch ripper to open 1/2 inch of the hem stitching at the bottom of the jean leg.
  • Attach a safety pin to one end of the strip.
  • Use the safety pin to guide the denim strip around the inside of the hem allowance and back out the opening.
  • Gather the fabric tightly along the denim strip. This won't close the opening completely, but it will be closed enough to hold your plastic plant container.
  • Knot the strip in place and cut off the excess.
  • Tie the finished "U" ends into a loose knot or bow.
  • Hang your sling-style planter over a low curtain rod or on a hook.
  • Add a lightweight planter. (below)
Create a lightweight planter from a plastic bottle
  • Cut off the bottom 5 inches of a plastic two liter bottle.
  • Cut the top half into small pieces and layer them in the bottom for drainage.
  • Add potting soil and a plant.
  • Place your plastic planter inside your denim hanger.
Idea # 2- Make a denim sleeve for an old flower pot- 10 minutes
  • Cut off the bottom 10 inches of the other jean leg. Leave the bottom hem in place.
  • Turn down 3 inches of fabric at the top (wrong side of fabric to wrong side)
  • Hand or Machine stitch in place.
  • Add top-stitching at the top if you desire.
  • Slip a flower pot inside (A 6 inch tall pot will work best.)
  • Turn down the fabric at the top for an upside down cuff look.
#3- Make a denim cover for a larger planter- 25 minutes
  • Retrieve the top part of your jeans.
  • At a point about 1/2 inch below the back pockets, trim away the excess denim all the way around.
  • Your piece will resemble a small skirt.
  • Turn the piece outside in and slip it around a large planter. (like a skirt)
  • Pin a vertical row of straight pins so the piece fits closely around the planter.
  • Cut away excess fabric, leaving a 1 inch seam allowance. (I cut the excess fabric from the front, leaving both back pockets as trim.)
  • Stitch the seam where pinned, leaving enough room to ease your planter into place.
  • If your jeans have a stitched yoke, trim the fabric down to the yoke. It will have fun top-stitched details and you won't have to sew that part into place.
  • If you don't have a stitched yoke, turn the top down 1/2 inch and sew into place.
  • Sew a hem at the bottom so your overall denim cover height is an inch taller than your planter. You may have to fold up the bottom of the pockets, but it will look just fine.
  • Ease your planter inside.

If you've followed along step-by-step, you now have a denim window garden of your very own. Don't stop there. You have at least half a jean leg left. Create another sleeve to cover one more muddy flower pot. If you don't like ferns or flowers, make yours a denim herb window garden. You'll not only have the best looking window sill in town, your dinners will be tasty too.

Originally published on

Sunday, July 6, 2014

DIY Wedding Cake Part 2: Avoid Wedding Cake Horror Stories

Wedding cake disasters happen when you least expect them

It's Bake Your Own Wedding Cake Show Time!

Your DIY Wedding Cake Should be an Important Part 
of a Beautiful Beginning
You've got three days to create a wedding cake miracle; and despite your enthusiasm, you can't imagine mustering the energy to do one more thing before your wedding day. If you want a last minute out, no one will blame you. It's short notice, but a bakery might be able to throw together a wedding cake at the last minute.
If you're still committed to making your wedding cake all by yourself, it's show time! Head for the kitchen, double check your mixer to make sure it's operating properly and get started.

Day One - Bake Your Heart Out
Get a big bowl. You'll need to mix a lot of batter at once. 
Rise early! Baking may take a good part of your day. A four layer cake is actually eight layers in all, four pans filled and baked then cleaned, dried, refilled and baked again.
  1. If you're feeling particularly domestic, you may feel a resurgence of the urge to bake your cake from scratch. This is not the time for domesticity. Get out your boxes of cake mix.
  2. Preheat your oven to a temperature about twenty-five degrees lower than boxed cake mix instructions. It will take a bit longer, but the cake will be moister.
  3. Before you mix one single bowl of cake batter, pull your hair back with a band, then cover it with a light scarf to keep stray hairs from ruining your hard work.
  4. Traditional cake baking instructions call for greasing and flouring your pans, but a slightly thick paste of oil, shortening and flour will do a better job. Use a pastry brush to coat each cake pan. Your layers won't stick and the cake surfaces will be smooth.
  5. For even heat distribution, use your oven's middle cooking racks. The highest or lowest racks could under or overcook your wedding cake layers. Unless you have an oversized oven, you will only be able to fit in a few pans at a time.
  6. Cool cooked layers on racks then put them in cake boxes until day two. Store them in your refrigerator if you have enough room and there are no smelly foods inside to contaminate them.
Day Two - Frost-a-thon
If you've ever been among a group of wedding cake bakers, you may have noticed the conversation shift to wedding cake horror stories, some of which involved frosting, a hot car and a summer day. With butter (or margarine) and shortening as butter cream frosting's primary ingredients, it's easy to imagine the sad possibilities.
For a beautiful cake beginning, place your first and largest layer on an embossed foil-covered cake board, sturdy enough to hold the weight. You should have purchased this during one of your many cake supply store visits. Or you can make one yourself (Stack and glue together five round cardboard cake circles at least four inches larger in diameter than your largest layer. Cover with gold, silver or color coordinated foil. Easy!)
-To hold the smaller layers, place on two glued-together cardboard cake circles 1 inch bigger in diameter than the cake layer.

Buttercream Frosting Dos and Don'ts
  • Do Add Meringue powder to your butter cream frosting to help it set and avoid melting accidents
  • Do complete a thin frosting layer to seal crumbs in place before adding a thicker final frosting layer.
  • Do consider fondant frosting. It's tricky to make but smooth and durable.
  • Don't use cream cheese frosting on a hot day. It will melt.
  • Don't use prepackaged frosting from the grocery store. It will also melt on a hot day.
  • Do add a hint of "embossed" texture to your cake. Frost your cake. Once frosting crusts over (wait at least an hour) smooth cake sides and top by covering with a dry paper towel then smoothing with a small rolling pin or a flat spatula. The frosting will take on the paper towel's embossed design.
  • Do make extra frosting. You will need it when you do your cake set up.
Day Two - Decoration Fest
The buttercream frosting has crusted over (okay, so you don't have to think about that if you use fondant) and late last night you smoothed the surface to perfection with a hint of a texture. Its time to decorate your layers to make them look as close as you can to the picture you cut out months ago.
Don't fuss with frosting colors. If you want your cake to reflect your wedding scheme, do your entire cake in white frosting and add fresh flowers for a hint of easy, beautiful color.
Keep decorations simple. Learn to create simple shell borders using your frosting bag and star tips in a range of sizes. Add shell borders. Make it a double row of shells. Create a criss-cross or curved pattern on the sides. Use your imagination.
If you want more decorating confidence, enroll in a beginner's cake decorating class. They won't teach you how to make a wedding cake, but you will learn a few basic decorating moves in a short time.
When completing wedding cake sections that will rest atop columns, place them on the appropriate separator plates, then complete the bottom border.
For stacked layers, complete your borders after you set up the entire cake.
Day Three - Crafting Your Cake Structure
Some of those cake horror stories you heard may have involved a tall, beautiful stacked and pillared wedding cake falling to the floor before the first cut. Perhaps the table legs were uneven, you may have surmised; or some naughty child pushed the wedding cake and ran away. That's not usually what happens. It's all about the inner structure.
Dowel Rods- Every tall wedding cake with elegant columns or more than one layer, has an inner structure that keeps it from toppling over. You will create that structure with wooden dowel rods or hollow plastic tubes you purchased in a set at the cake shop.

The rods (tubes are preferable but harder to cut evenly) hold the weight of each subsequent cake layer to keep it from smashing the previous layer. Properly structured, your cake can stand as tall as you please without danger of falling.
After you finish frosting all layers, cut your rods or tubes tall enough to fit into each layer that has to support another. The bigger the layer to support, the more rods you need. Ideally, once cut, the tops of your rods will be slightly lower than the frosting.
Separator Plates- When using columns or pillars, you will have a set of separator plates, a base plate on top a layer that will hold the pillars or columns and a plate on the bottom of each smaller layer to be elevated. You should have finished frosting the smaller, upper layer on the appropriate separator plate. Now that you have your dowel structure in place, go ahead and add any base separator plates.
For steadier transportation, add a circle of duct tape to the bottom of those layers resting on cardboard cake circles. The tape will help hold them in place. For the layers on separator plates, use thick foam the same size as the boxes you'll be carrying them in. Cut holes in the foam to fit the separator plate prongs, then slip the foam into the cake box to hold the layer.
Label your boxes: Base, Second Layer, Third Layer, etc.
It's Almost Over
You're nearly done with the hard part; now you should get out of the house for a while. You'll probably have a rehearsal dinner and bachelorette party to get to; but first make a run to the flower shop for greenery, ferns perhaps. Also pick up a few stems of baby's breath and a bouquet of flowers color coordinated to your wedding. Put these items in your refrigerator then go out and party.
If you think about it months ahead of time, you might realize you won't want to make a last minute flower shop run. That is the time to add these items to your wedding florist's things to do list. They will cost a bit more, but your florist will have them waiting for you when you bring your cake in to set up.
Wedding Day- Aaaargh!!!
By now perhaps you have come to your senses and know you should at least delegate the wedding cake set up duty. If you insist on doing it yourself, grab a sharp knife, a bowl of frosting, a frosting bag with tip in place, a long flat spatula, your flowers and greenery, paper towels, a kitchen towel and a picture of your cake. (In the heat of the moment you may very well forget what your beautiful wedding cake is supposed to look like when you're done.)
Print out Mapquest turn-by-turn instructions to the reception hall. Throw all of these things in a box or tote bag. Load up your cake layers. (in boxes.) Make sure they are resting flat. Turn on the air conditioner and drive very carefully, no sudden turns or stops that may cause layers to shift or smash against the side of a box. (Think Baby on Board)
Setting up your cake-
The person in charge of setting up your reception hall should have your cake table decorated and waiting. Check it out before bringing in your cake boxes so you'll know where to go when you enter the hall.
Take out your wedding cake picture and follow the plan. Begin by placing the large bottom layer in the middle of the table, then add the next layers in turn. If you have columns or pillars, set them in place between their appropriate separator plates. If the cake is tall, get a step stool or chair to stand on so you won't knock it over while you're adding the final layers. No optimistic reaching.
Wet your kitchen towel and use it to clean stray frosting from your hands as you work. Use paper towels to clean up the area. There will be a mess.
Last Minute Once Over-
When you are done "building" your cake, add frosting borders to the base of each layer that needs them.
Arrange your greenery around the base layer, close to the bottom edge of the cake, then sprigs of baby's breath. Cut flowers with a knife, just the tops with a little stem, and place them strategically in your greenery.
Add your fresh mini flower arrangement inside the pillared layer and place your wedding couple on top. (You don't have to have a couple at all. A flower arrangement can be just as beautiful.)
Complete a once-over and use your bag of frosting to fill in any accidental gouges you find in the cake surface. Use your cake spatula to smooth areas that need it.
You're done; but you don't have time to pat yourself on the back. Just grab your wedding dress and run to the church before they realize you're not there.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

DIY Wedding Cake Part 1: Buy Lots of Stuff and Make a Plan

A Few Tips to Help You Pull Off Your Personal Wedding Cake Design

 You can do it!

Have you ever thought about making your own wedding cake? Imagine you and your new hubby stepping in front of the crowd for your cake-cutting photo op. "The wedding cake is so beautiful," the crowd whispers. "And she made it herself!" your mom declares loudly. What a proud moment indeed.

The idea of making your own wedding cake sounds both romantic and noble.
You envision yourself the perfect cook in a perfect chef’s hat, creating the perfect wedding cake and saving money too. But before you commit to doing it yourself, remember a beautiful wedding cake is a deed easier said then done. Professional wedding cake bakers spend years learning their craft.

That doesn't mean you can't do it yourself. But be realistic. Don't go into it expecting the same oooh-ahhh crowd pleasing perfection a professional baker might receive.

You Must Remember This

Your wedding cake will be a key focal point of your most important day.
  • When the bridal party is posing for pictures in the park, your reception guests will be doing a 360 ogle of your wedding cake.
  • Your wedding cake will be the one thing photographed and commented on nearly as much as you and your new hubby.
  • The pans, ingredients, flowers, boards and all the other things you need to create your wedding cake, might end up costing you nearly as much as getting a professional to do it.
  • This will be your wedding, hopefully your only wedding, and your only wedding cake, reason enough to rethink the whole do-it-yourself angle.

If you've considered these caveats and still insist on baking and decorating your own wedding cake, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1- Get Organized
If you already have a wedding binder, add a section for your cake with a few sheets of paper for notes covering these topics:
What do you want?- Wait! Before you say you want a wedding cake with tiers and fountains and staircases and multiple satellite cakes at each side, remember, the more complicated the design, the more headaches. When it comes to your do it yourself wedding cake, simple is good.
Find a picture- Of course you already have an idea in mind for your perfect wedding cake; if not, figure it out early enough to make it a reality. Look through wedding books and magazines. Wilton, the cake decorating guru, publishes wedding cake books and an annual book of new all-occasion cake designs with step by step instructions and serving charts.
Wherever you find your wedding cake, photocopy the picture and stick it in your binder. If you can't find a picture of the perfect cake for you, draw a sketch with a detailed description.
How many servings?- You should begin purchasing your cake supplies long before your RSVP process is complete; so guesstimate the number of wedding cake servings you will need. Record it in your notes.
2- Cake Hardware
For simplicity's sake think of your pans, columns, boards, boxes, circles, frosting bags and tip sets, cake topper and other non edible items as your hardware. If you are on a tight budget and can live with limited options, you can find the hardware you need at many craft stores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby, including the Wilton line of deep, straight sided cake pans. Once you've compiled the list of items you need, you can wait for a sale at your favorite craft store or use a coupon for deeper discounts.
If you want an octagon, heart or other uniquely shaped wedding cake and a larger variety of columns, separator plates, even a power operated fountain you can rent, visit a cake supply store. If your small town doesn't have a cake supply store, check the listings in a nearby larger city.
On your first visit to the cake supply store, ask the sales clerk to help you figure out the supplies you need for your number of guests. Write the items down with prices so you can calculate your costs when you get home. Or if you're feeling confident, buy the items you need for your wedding cake and take them home with you. No matter how diligent your shopping, you will probably miss a few necessary items; so be prepared for a return trip, perhaps two or three.
Make certain you have enough cooling racks for all your layers. You can purchase these cheaply at a discount department store.
3- Cake Software
Think of eggs, butter, oil, vanilla, confectionery sugar and other edible supplies as your software. Most of these items are available in your regular grocery store. Stock up on non-perishables during a sale or head for a nearby discount store for a better price. Buy eggs, sugar, etc. a few days before you begin baking so they will be fresh.
While you're purchasing your pans and other items at the cake supply store, don't forget the meringue powder, clear vanilla and white-white for your butter cream frosting. They may be difficult to find in a typical grocery store.
4- The Urge to Scratch
Perhaps making a wedding cake is a manifestation of the domestic side you've been trying to cultivate. To you that may mean not simply making a wedding cake, but doing it from scratch. You know, like your grandma. Feel that urge for a moment then let it go. Prepackaged cake mixes are much easier.
Some cake decorating teachers recommend Duncan Hines cake mix. It's moist and rich and comes in lots of flavors. Whether you use Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker or another mix, think of it not as a shameful secret but as your wedding cake decorator's blessing in disguise.
Hopefully when you bought your pans, the salesclerk showed you where to find the information on calculating the boxes of cake mix you will need per pan and how many servings that will make. Remember, if your notes say buy 10 boxes, buy 12 just in case. Buy your mix ahead of time, but check the expiration date before you do.
5- Set a Cake schedule
A wedding cake professional works from a schedule; and you need to do the same thing. Your time may be a bit tight as you will be fitting your cake duties in among bridal showers, rehearsal dinners and other last minute events. Arrange your schedule so you can do your baking close enough to the wedding date for your cake to be fresh, but far enough in advance so as not to create a time crunch.
Your cake will frost better if you allow layers to sit for at least a day after baking. Some wedding cake makers bake the layers and freeze them weeks ahead of time. They swear freezing doesn't effect flavor; but your wedding is not the place to test that theory. Besides there's nothing like fresh.
For best results, allocate cake time on three consecutive days with extra time to correct mistakes.
  • Day one Bake
  • Day two frost and decorate
  • Day three
  • Complete inner structure for pillared or stacked cakes (Cakes with columns and/or multiple layers)
  • Pick up live flowers and greenery
Your Wedding Day
  • Transport your cake to the reception hall before the wedding
  • Assemble layers
  • Stand back and wait for the oohs and aahhhs.
It's time!

Fast forward past the months of choosing your perfect wedding cake style, calculating servings, buying pans and eggs and vanilla and cake boards and separator plates and the whole list of things you need for your perfect wedding cake. Assume you purchased all of these things at a very good price with the help of a nice salesclerk at a local cake decorating shop......
Now that you have an idea of what you've decided to do. Think about it for a few days, then come back for Wedding Cake DIY part 2: Avoid Wedding Cake Horror Stories.

Here's to your crafty self,
Carol, the Nice Lady