BRITNEY'S 31st WHEEL OF FORTUNE BIRTHDAY CAKE
Well I'm a sucker for projects so I volunteered for this one a week before the party. It just so happens that Britney's favorite show is Wheel of Fortune, hmm, that sounds nice and easy to make a cake that moves. John, her husband also mentioned that she loves flip flops, unfortunately my little brain was already set on a spinning cake :(. Plus we only had a couple days left at that point to figure things out, doh! Here are some of the sketches for the cake: Sketch 1, Sketch 2, Sketch 3, Sketch 4, Sketch 5.
After deciding on the Wheel of Fortune we needed to decide what will actually be in there. Of course the spinning wheel. The game board had to be there. As a bonus we used the backlit sign behind the contestants and the pointer for the prize amounts.
The first thing I made was the game board. I found a few images on internet and used Coreldraw to create it at the proper size (notice C89.5 streaming online at the bottom, the finest music to work to :). I printed it out on two 8.5"x30" pieces of photo paper and glued it to foam core along with some happy shiny blue and black. Next I cut each individual letter about 1mm outside of the white. Then trimmed each letter back to the white. This give the letters some room to rotate. On the back of the foam core I cut vertical grooves at 45 degrees to about the center of the foam. Then I made a handy jig to press steel shafts through the center of the letters. Then I laid each letter segment in the respective groove, hot glued the metal and taped over it. Looks neat from the back yppah tsrif ytriht yadhtrib yentirb. And the front.
Next we worked on the wheel. It was easy to conceal the motor under the contestant panel. I just chiseled out what we needed from the MDF base. I put it at a slight angle so that I could add a spring below. The spring below was to press the motor up against the wheel so that it had traction to make it go around. I didn't want to try it without a spring because it may have too much pressure or not enough or mess the motor shaft or something....I don't know. Anyway I luckily had some nice thin metal left over from disassembling a monitor for a Mame cab. It worked great as a spring. I also turned the motor on and chiseled out a groove in the gear with an exacto knife so I could add two rubber grommets to act as tire traction. I attached the motor to foam core with some twist ties and put it all together under the wheel with a couple small nails. The wheel is setting on a 6" lazy susan bracket. Nice. The motor was powered by two AA batteries attached to a trimmer to adjust the speed.
Next, the little lighted sign. I just happened to have a whole set of 12V mini lights I had taken out of a Taito cabinet's marquee. They were already wired and ready to go. I made the entire sign out of foam core. I made a nice little cutting thingy to cut at 45 degrees to make it a seamless box. I made the graphics first in Coreldraw to establish the size. Then I made the back of the sign and attached the lights. Then cut the rest of the sign box. I also had some spare clear lexan hanging around the garage so I glued the graphics to the lexan using some 3M Super 77 spray. I plopped the lexan in and attached the back. Then added the base and it's all done. Now for the testing in the dark and light.
Ah, now the coolest (at least I think so) part of the cake. The contestant panel and clicky pointer! The Mame cabinet parts really are coming in handy for this one. I also happened to have some byo spinner parts laying around. This turns out perfect for our pointer. I have a lovely bushing, shaft and mounting parts to use. Using a 1/4" steel shaft I attached my hand made pointer. Then built up a base for the bushing to slide into and added the respective pointer and shaft. This thing spins SO easily! Knowing that we are going to be smacking candle after candle in a soft mushy cake, we can not have a pointer that is strong in any way. Otherwise it will just bend the candles over and pull the cake and frosting up making a nice mess. So to make a light spring that will pop the pointer back to center I stripped a twist tie and wrapped it around a piece of Bic pen. I put the pen into the foam core base and attached the two ends of the twist tie "spring". I made sure to put the spring toward the fulcrum to make it even weaker and to minimize the bend during use so as not to deform. It's a beautiful thing! I colored the end of the clicker with a marker and installed it in the panel. The only hard part the panel was the bend which was accomplished by adding parallel scores down the foam core so it would bend. Lili painted the graphics on the front, see below. When in motion the cake made the perfect clicky sound! I was so happy.
The cake itself is very straightforward except for the top. After much stress by Lili we decided to try fondant icing on top. We tried this because Lili didn't think she could do the numbers well enough with icing. It was a great decision as you can see. The fondant looks great, but having never had it before we didn't like the taste at all. For the numbers I created the cake in Coreldraw so that I would have a scale of the numbers. I printed each number 0-9 and the $. Then I cut each out in reverse and we laminated it. Lili cut all of the colored fondant and used the stencils we created with black food coloring. For those of you who ate the cake, I think she was picking her nose while touching the fondant. Ew. Then we started laying the fondant on top. Yep, we know the lettering is going to wrong way...oops.
We put everything together no problem. Added a shiny palm tree for environment and two little cars. Once at the party we added some Happy Birthday confetti to the floor. We didn't add Mr. Sajak because we didn't want to take away from the cake. Although we really would have put Vanna on there as a cutout to simulate a little 3D effect but ran out of time. It would have been easy to put a small piece of foam core between the cutout and the board. Ah well. I also had a midi sound file of the theme music but stupid me waited for the last day to try and burn it to CD. But realized I didn't have the right program (or enough time) to figure out what I needed. Another ah well. Another nice cake but definitely a few things miscalculated :(. And also ran out of time to fix the frosting on the side. Cutting the chocolate cake to the correct size circle made a bit of a mess and it transferred to the yellow frosting >:(. We delivered the cake just barely in time.
Click here to download a movie of Wheel of Fortune in action (1.0 mb file)