Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wedding crafts: cupcake towers

Our weekends are spectacularly busy recently: they mostly consist of attempting to reign in the chaos that is our apartment, grocery shopping, food prep, working on campus, or doing something wedding-craft related. I let myself watch Downton Abbey on Sunday nights. We should probably take a break soon. Thankfully, my future in-laws gave us a sweet weekend getaway in Leavenworth... we might need to use that soon before we explode from all this productivity. Is anyone else feeling the urge to spring clean and ending up exhausted because of it?

On a side note, I scrubbed the heck out of the bathtub today. Borax + homemade all purpose citrus cleaner = beautifully shiny tub. And an arm workout. I think the scrubbing may not have been all that necessary, but it seemed like it at the time.

Ok! On to wedding crafts. We decided to have cupcakes as a dessert at our wedding instead of a traditional tiered cake, mostly because well, we're not really that traditional, and because they're so easy to serve and adorable. I really like the frosting/cake ratio, and prefer cupcakes in general. I tried to argue that cutting into an adorable cupcake would be spectacular, but future-hubbs and Seattle bridesmaid all thought I was crazy. So we're also going to have a small cake to cut into. Right, about crafts. Because we're featuring cupcakes, we wanted something to serve them on, like a cupcake tree. Naturally I wanted to build my own and scoured the internet for DIY guides. I found a few - but none that really suited my taste. I'd absolutely love to build one out of wood, but I have to face the likelihood that I'd cut off a finger. I need these digits for chemistry or typing or something. I found a few websites I liked, but mostly I was unimpressed. I had finally decided to just buy a cardboard cupcake tower online, and spray paint/paper it to make it pretty. Even if I'd like to, spending the time to DIY everything for the wedding would just be too much. But then the inevitable happened. Seattle bridesmaid and I made cupcakes and then went to the cake store to look for some accessories for something unrelated - and I thought to ask about cupcake stands, and the wonderful lady there helped me to figure out how to make the stand AND how to decorate it. WIN! (It's called Home Cake Decorating Store, a local business, and I could spend hours in there. I love this lady so much). Here's how it went:

First, I decided on a size. Our cupcakes are going to be medium-sized, taking up a surface area of approximately 6 inches^2. For ~120 guests, we'd like about 150 cupcakes. Math, math, math... what we worked out is that we'll make two normal-sized stands and then just refill. The knowledgeable cake lady adamantly suggested this, to avoid giant towers. The tiers are 18", 14", 12". After about 100 possibilities that I floated through in my head, we decided on double-ply normal cardboard circles covered with polyfoil (have you heard about this? I hadn't! I love this stuff), and here's what came out, including supplies and approximate cost/time:

     - four 12" cardboard cake circles ($0.49 x 4)
     - four 14" cardboard cake circles ($0.99 x 4)
     - four 18" cake circles ($1.39 x 4)
     - three yards of gold polyfoil ($1.39 x 3)
   -- total cost = $16

         Halve that for one cake tree. Approximate time: 1.5 hrs, but really you could do it in 30 minutes if you aren't as set on doing stupid things like using a glue gun and coating the bottom side.

Now comes the fun part. I took my hand-dandy glue gun (thanks sibling for the wonderful Christmas present! you know me so well! Actually I think I suggested it... but it's still an awesome gift and glue gun.) and glued one circle to another circle. I wasn't consistent on brown side to brown side, but I should have been. The tricksy part (thank you Cake Lady), is to alternate the ridges of the cardboard corrugation, insuring that each layer will be sturdy and never bend.
See the alternating corrugation of the cardboard? Oh yeah, that's science right there. Or being practical, something like that.
I also cut out approximate circles with the polyfoil, with the intention that the bottoms won't be covered (and indeed they don't need to be). Then to secure the glue I covered them with something heavy- the heaviest thing I could find was a kettle... it looks pretty sad in retrospect.

Ok, now the cake circles are double-secure, and the foil is precut. How to attach the foil to the boards? The Cake Lady recommended just taping the edges in of the foil, which is definitely an easy and sturdy option. But hey, my glue gun was out and hot. And the good tape was upstairs in who knows what box of wedding-related stuff, so hot glue was a more appealing option. But I imagined that putting glue on the "good side" would look sloppy, as it likely would be bumpy and show where the glue was. And maybe melt the plastic on the polyfoil? For those reasons, I decided to glue the edges onto the bottom side of the circles. I folded the foil over, glued a bit, and tried not to burn myself while pressing it down. Then I did the edge completely opposite, to secure the circle in the foil and pull it tight. Crumpling around the edges while adding hot glue completed the seal, and boy is it stuck-in-place. It is not moving, come what may. I burned a few fingers this way, until I wizened up and used something flat to smooth the foil over the glue - life lesson learned.

I was worried about having enough foil (did I do that math right?!) so I skimped on each circle. Fortunately, this left me with extra bits and pieces, which I gladly used on the medium and small circles. If the bottoms of any tiers are to be accidentally observed, those would be the ones. So I covered them with bits and pieces of foil. This was rather silly and I don't recommend it. But it's in place now and it looks pretty good for the bottom, right?
Not so bad right? Now for the big reveal:
Medium board
Large board
The stack.
Now for the supports. We went shopping today for those (the day after I made these), and there are few extra details I'm adding, but maybe I'll wait for the wedding for the big reveal. As a test, I tried my glittered mason jar candles (another wedding craft that I should blog about).

 That's all there was to it!


Edie said...

Very nice! Looks very pretty and clean!! I've never heard of polyfoil, is it like a mix between foil and wrapping paper?

Carolyn Valdez said...

It's like a mix of plastic wrap and foil - so the foil doesn't tear and it's resistant to water and oil. Not sure where you can buy it though, besides a cake store. Florists sometimes carry it too.

Sophia said...

It looks so good and it came together so quickly! That cake store is so fantastic! Funny thing is that my mom was the one that found it when she started working at Sam's and we've been going ever since. Also, just to set the record straight, Seattle Bridesmaid thought cutting into a cupcake would have been adorable too. ;)

Benjamin Leipzig said...

They look like giant chocolate gold coins and im so tempted to bite into them!!!