(Illustration Friday) Making Cake

March 18, 2011

One year when I was a girl, my mother made an angelfood cake for my birthday. It was from a mix which included multicoloured sprinkles (some of you call those candy bits “hundreds and thousands”). I have no recollection of how old I was, whether all of my brothers were in attendance, whether all were still alive, even, or what present I might have received — I just remember the beautiful wedge of cake, and the fact that Mum had attempted it and it had turned out well.

Maybe I remember the scene because she was relaxed and pleased with her work for once. Mum’s culinary expertise lay in  pork chops, meat loaf, scalloped potatoes, pickled red cabbage, and green beans by the truckload, cheap, nourishing food that sustained seven people on a paint-factory worker’s paycheque. Maybe, on this particular evening, Mum’s face was as bright as that slice of white cake shot with rainbow dots of colour.

Whatever the reason, whenever I think of birthday cake, I think of that one.

I was quite pleased, then, at the card I made Aunt Theodora for her 95th birthday:

Sprinkles, glorious sprinkles.  They shower downwards at a gentle slant, thanks in great part to this nifty little paintbrush:The purple and yellow background dots were made with a round (think “ordinary”) brush, while the words took a rigger, a brush with longer, fewer bristles, so that it will hold a decent amount of paint while producing thin lines; it’s also called a script brush.

And here is a close-up of the candle. The photo doesn’t show the shininess of the blue. I mixed the blue paint with gum arabic, a liquid that greatly slows the drying time, and then coloured in the flame, starting at the top and finishing by touching the yellow to the blue and tipping the card upright. The result wasn’t quite what I wanted; the time I’d tried this before, the yellow stayed yellow and didn’t blend to make green. Will have to keep experimenting.

although I composed the words for the card, there have likely been hundreds of riffs on the same theme in the history of commercially-produced birthday greetings. So sue me. I’ll pay my lawyer with one Cardi, and you can have the other one.

Anyway, the fact that both the plate and the words on the outside of the card use the same colour helps to give a “black and white” effect to the inside — with just a little added sweetness:

There you have it.

No cats were harmed in the making of this card.