Sydney's 2nd Birthday Cake
Well, Syd likes the Little Mermaid and Peter Pan a lot. We originally were set on PP but decided against it after noticing that boys generally do PP parties so we changed the Ariel. Either way I think we would have been happy. When we switched we only had about two weeks to the party and hadn't sent the invitation out yet. We had to make moving invitations of course, wow was I ever sick of paper and glue by the end of it. The invites alone took half of the week so we were really pressed for time on the cake. We agreed on the underwater portion of the movie where Sabastian is singing Under the Sea. It would involve fish dancing, water and Ariel singing and dancing. I apologize for the lack of pictures this time, it was a fast a furious cake making this time, no time for pics!
OK, first the bad. I initially went out a bought what I thought we would need and of course got the wrong stuff. We wanted there to be real water with real bubbles rising in the background but I got a really thin polycarbonate rather than a 1/4" thickness. And since I wanted fish dancing in front we had to place dowels in the tank to allow the wiring to come through I got the dowels and drilled holes through them to allow for wire to come though the tank. I first tried to place the dowels inside the tank and allow the surface area of the dowel to glue to the poly and hold the load of the water. Well, I got 5/16 dowels and they didn't have enough glue area to hold so it leaked (even with copious amounts of Silicone II). So then I tried putting full 5/16" holes in the poly and gluing around the dowel. This also allowed silicone on both sides of the dowel for more strength. Well the poly was too thin and didn't have enough surface area to hold the dowels and it leaked. I think the main reason is, even though the tank was only 1/4" deep inside, the poly still bowed when if filled with 18" of water above it. Yep, 1/4" would have done it. I also couldn't get any larger poly dowel because I had to order it and this was Tuesday before the Saturday party. Yikes! So we had to abandon the water and move on.... I had a friend print the background graphic so I laminated and attached that to the tank. It is a screenshot from Finding Nemo, shhhhhh.....
We were able to find, what I consider, the best Ariel I've ever seen as a toy. She is almost like a Barbie but is the Disney Princess series. This was perfect. But we couldn't find a Flounder the same scale so we decided to make one. I made three flounders out of Super Sculpey clay. Then I Dremeled some slots for the fins and let Lili paint them. Then I printed the fins on transparency paper because I wanted them to be kind of see through and glued them in the slots. Next I wanted to add a bit of the movie to stay with the theme. If anyone remembers, Ariel lays on a rock formation plucking petals from a flower before the Under the Sea song starts. I wanted Ariel to sit on this formation on the cake. I also made this out of Sculpey clay as it is easy to do. I know realize the scale is completely off but if we followed the scale for this project it would have been 15" rock on a cake. Too big. After it was hardened Lili painted it, I added shells and created seaweed and anemone by dripping on hot glue until it looked about like the movie rock. Then I painted the weeds and anemone, although I changed the weed color to green as I didn't want to explain what it was supposed to be at the party. This is what the rock looked like. I also wanted a coral on the side. I found one at Walmart that was only about 2.5" tall for 5 bucks, it was a really sad looking thing for the cost, so I made one myself out of Sculpey again. This one I had to make a wire frame underneath so that it wouldn't bend over before hardening. I used a wire brush to crate a texture and then it was easy to paint. I also added a little fish above it. This is how the coral turned out.
Next, the movement. This was another debauchery of mine. I thought I ordered 2 motors at 30 rpm and 1 at 3 rpm, well it was the other way around. I noticed this just as I was pulling parts after creating most of the mechanics inside. After freaking out and trying to decide if I could get a second motor in a day I got an idea to run Ariel, Flounder and all other fish off of the single 30 rpm motor. Here is the motor driving the characters, and here is the rod that is moving them. The swimming fish ran easily off of the shaft of the 3 rpm motor mounted just under the cake. I also had some cheapie speakers laying around that fit under the cake and I used my Dell DJ to play the original movie music. Here you can see everything put together underneath (minus the surge strip). The fish dance by all attaching to a bent wire that is attached to a single moving structure. The wire is bent so that as the bend in the back of the tank moves the portion of the wire running through the tank acts as a pivot and rotates the fish attached in the front. In this sketch I was planning it out using a separate motor but it really does work about the same.
Once the base was completed and the tank installed we could go about adding fish. We printed the fish from screen shots of the movie and cut them out. Some I edited to place the fish overlapping so we could have more fish in the dance :). I added them to the tank by taping them to wire I'd placed through the dowels. Here, here and here. My favorite part of the cake is the fish in the bubble dancing. I got a bunch of orange fish from Chuck E Cheese and used them to make the swimming school of fish from a clothes hanger. I attached this to the motor with a chunk created from Sculpey. We added Scuttle at the last minute just to put something up top. I added a few various sized glass hemispheres the the tank to create the illusion of bubbles. We finished up by adding a border to the tank, a back to the tank to conceal the mechs, and a red silk "seaweed" curtain.
The cake was the easiest part. It was just a bunch of flat cakes placed on there and cut up and down to remove the flatness. We used white frosting with a small amount of chocolate to darken it. Then crushed graham crackers and spread them over the top to make sand. I added some wet glitter as well to make it look more sandylike. Syd's shell cake was put on a base made out of Sculpey, we used extra cake and cut to form then frosted. Lili added some coloring after it was spread and we ran the spatula over it until it blended in and gave the shell some texture and color.
Of course, once it was done we were extremely happy with it. You never know if you can pull off what you are aiming for when most of what you're doing is new!
Click here to download/watch a movie of The cake in action (1.0 mb file)
(1.9 mb file)