Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cherries Cake ala Ellie

This is another of the 'Albert Herring' cakes. As you can tell, we put together quite a spread for the picnic.  This lovely cake is the work of props apprentice, Ellie "Biceps" Bye, another talented and sweet young props artisan.  Ellie used the standard recipe of insulation foam and acrylic caulk to make the base of her cake. The cherries on top are purchased artificial cherries from our stock.
Ellie is just nuts for fake cakes!
The real charm and cleverness of this cake is in its nutty exterior. Ellie used cork crumbles to simulate copped walnuts, pressing them into the caulk before it dried. The result is a cake that is beautifully textured, and looks good enough to eat. Yum!

If you'd like to read more about Ellie, you can take a look at this article at

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sham ala Keli

This lovely ham is yet another picnic prop for 'Albert Herring.' Crafted by our resident sculptor Keli Sequoia, and painted by our talented painters, this ham is a vision in foam and flex glue.  The body of the ham is carved from bead foam, and the slices of ham are microfoam sheeting- that thin, translucent foam used for packaging.  I believe the bone is made of bamboo. Keli did something very clever here, which was to reinforce the edges of the ham slices with wire, allowing the slices to gracefully drape from the ham. The slices of ham were attached to the body with green glue, and the ham was coated with flex glue (I believe) before being painted. The final touch is the real cloves, which you can see Keli placing in the photos. Well done, Keli, another beautiful prop from a talented lady!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Herring-Do Part 3- Sugared Pansy Cake Ala Oona

Lovely Oona and her lovely cake. The photos don't do either of them justice.

This is a fine example of pastry fakery from a lovely young woman who claims to be a costumer/couturier but is just aching to let her inner propster out.  Oona Tibbetts created this lovely bundt while overhiring in our shop this summer.  I hope you'll all forgive me, my sub-par camera has led to some sub-par photos of this lovely cake. I assure you, the 'real' thing is far more scrumptious looking than these pics give it credit.  If any of you many wealthy readers want to see better photos, please send a Canon Rebel EOS to Anna Warren, C/O Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and I'll do what I can.  Now, back to Oona's cakery.

Here is the research image that Oona was given:
She decided to make a few adjustments based on size and the flowers we had available in our stock.  The cake that Oona made is taller and has a smaller diameter than the source photo, and she used violets instead of pansies. You see, my friends, adaptability! Oona started by carving the cake form from bead foam. After patterning the cake, she set the bandsaw table at a 10 degree angle, and cut the cake with a lovely bevel.  From there, she used an Olfa knife to carve away the scalloped pattern around the edge of the cake, and sanded the top to a graceful curve.

Once the shaping was done, a coat of Jaxsan (the magic prop goo) was applied to seal the foam and provide a paintable surface.  One of our talented props painters (Ilana Kirschbaum, I believe) painted the cake. Once dry, Oona glittered up a few silk violets (mmm sugared flowers) and applied them to the top of the bundt. Et, Voila!  Another darling addition to the Albert Herring picnic table.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Herring-Do Part 2, Strawberry Cream Cake ala JT

Some of you may remember my first guest contributor, JT Ringer, from his earlier post Canapes ala JT. Well, he is back on the Fake-n-Bake blog with his towering strawberry cream cake! Yet another picnic delicacy for 'Albert Herring', this cake is a delight for the eyes.

JT based his cake on this research photo:
We decided against the grapefruit.

Each layer of the cake is carved from bead foam, which lends itself well to the spongy nature of the angel food cake. After a coating of Jaxsan, the layers were painted by the talented Ilana Kirschbaum to give them that golden brown, fresh-from-the-oven look.

JT assembling the cake layers.  Notice his use of splash proof goggles, nitrile gloves, and a respirator. You can't tell from the photo, but he's working outside to spare his co-workers the fumes. How considerate!
The cream in this cake is made with Great Stuff expanding foam.  The foam is adhesive, so it holds the layers together, and holds the (purchased) fake strawberries to the top without additional glue. It is lightweight and durable as well, and is very useful in the making of food props.  The thing to remember, though, is that Great Stuff expands as it cures, so it's important to plan ahead.  Notice how the prop cake is slightly more towering than the research photo? Yup, expanding foam. Luckily, this precarious tower of angel food cake is the perfect opera prop- scrumptious looking, and ever so slightly larger than life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Herring-Do Part 1- Candy Sticks

Hey all! I've just returned from my summer gig and boy do I have some sweet fake sweets for you! The next several posts will be dedicated to the talented props artisans and apprentices of the Santa Fe Opera, and their sumptuous creations for our production of 'Albert Herring.' This opera is the story of a young, innocent man who comes of age during a rum-fueled night of debauchery following the Loxford May Festival and his crowning as May King.  Naturally, the picnic table at the May Festival is an operatic smorgasbord of delightful treats, but we also find a few faux edibles in the Herring family grocer's shop.  To start us off, we have some of the candy treats from the shop, a sweet little piece of set dressing on a grand wall of propliness.  These confections are the work of John Daugherty, a young man who volunteered in our shop after his hours in the Orchestra Services Dept.

These candy sticks are simply made, but oh-so-sweet! First, John cut some 3/8" dowel (painted white) down to 6" lengths, and lightly sanded the ends. Next, he used hot glue to attach varying types of ribbon to the dowels, spiraling each ribbon around the dowel to create the swirled look of the candy.

Once the candy sticks were decorated, John wrapped each one in cellophane, twisting the ends and using a bit of Scotch Tape to secure the wrapping.  Such a simple process for such adorable treats! The candies went into jars onstage, just one more finishing touch on the lovely set.

See how proud John is of his tasty treats? Hip Hip Huzzah!


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