Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Surfing Skeleton

When my niece in law asked me to make my nephew's 30th birthday cake, I said of course! He is not only a wonderful guy, but my godson too. Nothing is too much for my Adam. So I asked her what she wanted, or if she had a theme, and she said, "Since Adam loves surfing and his BD falls near Halloween, how about a surfing skeleton?" "Sure!", I said. "Sounds great!"

Then I hung up and thought: How the heck am I going to pull this one off?

My dear friend Kim linked me to a cake by another artist that was the perfect inspiration for the wave scene. Thank you Kim! You saved my booty!

Then I had to figure out how to make the skeleton.

I knew I needed an armature of some kind to mold white modeling chocolate over. PVC pipe was too thick. I tried Tinker Toys but they were too thick and bulky as well. Double thickness 18 gauge wire wrapped in floral tape did the trick. (You see two in this picture because I did not like the first rib cage I made and started over.)

It was sturdy enough to hold the weight of the modeling chocolate. When I formed him out of the wire, I left about 5 inches of extra wire below the feet, which went down into the dummy while I made him. That extra wire later went thru the surf board and down into the wave to anchor him in place.

I then molded the modeling chocolate around the wires to form his body parts. After he was firm, I used petal dusts to give him some creepy color.

The surf board was cut from thin Styrofoam. I printed out a paper template of the board using clip art. You see the reject skeleton lying there because I used him to help determine the size of the surfboard.

After I cut out the styro, I rounded the sides of the boards with another piece of styro , using it as sanding paper. (Learned that in a Colette Peters demo.)

Then it was time to form the wave out of modeling chocolate. I used both white and dark chocolate paste, because I had both on hand. It weighed a ton too! Again I used the reject surf board and skele to help me determine the size and shape of the wave. I made the wave on top of a thin piece of foam core board.

Another view of the wave. It didn't look like much of anything at this point and I was a tad worried if I would get the wave to come out looking right.

The sheet cake was then covered in white fondant, doweled well, and the wave put on top.

To make the palm trees, I used plastic hidden pillars and wrapped them in brown fondant with tylose added.

I scored the sides with a skewer to make the palm bark look, and threaded them over another skewer to let them dry firm.

I airbrushed them to give them depth of color. They were not as dark as they are showing up in these photos. The palm leaves were made from fondant using a generic leaf cutter. Each was individually wired, then wired together in a bunch, and then that was threaded down into the hole of the pillar.

I rough iced the wave in blue buttercream, and then came back with very thin white buttercream and brushed it on with a small fan brush to create the foam of the crashing wave. Processed graham crackers were glued to the white fondant with piping gel. The skewers are marking the holes I dug down into the modeling chocolate. Once I arrived at the party, I put the surf board on the wave, and threaded the skeleton's leg wires down thru the board and into the wave.

It was a big hit at the party; everybody loved it, including Adam. Mission accomplished! YAY!

I love these kinds of cakes. The ones that are different and challenging and fun. And I especially love the ones for family cuz there is not so much pressure. If I screw it up, I know they will go easy on me! LOL

Hope you all had a great Halloween! Now it is time to start thinking about all the great Thanksgiving treats we are gong to make. What do you guys have planned?

Happy Caking,


becklynn said...

Wow Sharon! That is the coolest cake! You are so clever:}

Janel Waters said...

that is so cool!!!! of course YOU could pull off an awesome skeleton surfer!

Fatima said... are a GENIUS!!!This looks so COOL!!!And thanks for the tutorial !! xxx

fiddlesticks said...

This looks so COOL! Thanks for the step/step!
Awesome cake!

SweetThingsTO said...

So very cool! Thanks for sharing all the tips!

Tammy said...

The skeleton is awesome. Thanks for the detailed instrustions.

Gayla said...


WOW! Is all I can say about your skeleton and the cake as a whole! Great job, thanks so much for your step by step instructions, great tips in there! I agree with you, making cakes for family, although is usually not profitable, it's truly stress free! Thanks again for sharing and what a wonderful job you did on this cake, too cool!!!!

kdodgen said...

Sharon, you are the master at cake decorating. I love it and can't wait to see your next creation.

Kim D

Nancy Smith said...

AMAZING! I STILL DON'T GET HOW YOU GOT THE RIBS SO PERFECT. Thanks for sharing. I'm watching topsy turvey dvd as we speak.

Nichi said...

That skeleton is just genius! You never cease to amaze!

Michelle said...


Is there anything you can't create! You are an amazing cake artist. Thank you for sharing.

Elaine said...

Fabulous cake! Love the skeleton! Thanks for sharing the details!

June said...

You did a fantastic job, I love the surfing skeleton. You are such an artist Sharon. Thank you for sharing the details.