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What if you know a cake will be ugly?

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 

So I have a dilemma, every time a friend of mine gets married I make the wedding cake as their gift. I am making my friend's cake in August and we had discussed a design a while back. Now she is adding all kinds of elements and changing the design, and I know it's going to be very tacky and will not look good. I want to make her what she wants, but I don't want to put my name to such an ugly cake. Has this ever happened to anyone? What would you do? I have tried to suggest different things and veer her in a different direction, but she's very particular about what she wants. TIA!

post #2 of 100

Has the design only been discussed? Maybe (if you haven't already) a sketch of it would make her see the actual look of the cake. In her mind, it may look beautiful and unique, but once it's on paper she may realize what you are saying.

Dora Moreno
If you work with your hands you're a laborer. If you work with your hands and your mind you're a craftsman. If you work with your hands, your mind and your heart, you're an artist
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Dora Moreno
If you work with your hands you're a laborer. If you work with your hands and your mind you're a craftsman. If you work with your hands, your mind and your heart, you're an artist
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post #3 of 100
I would be upfront and honest with her, your friends right?! Explain to her that your worried that the design has too many elements and you don't want it to look cluttered, make a detailed picture of what she's asked for so she can see it as Dora said.

I'd also make some other sketches to show her, separate her designs into a few different sketches and have her tell you what she wants to keep and what she can get rid of, then resketch- narrow it down some more...

You don't have to tell her your worried it will be hideous lol icon_wink.gif

What is she wanting? Out of curiosity icon_smile.gif
post #4 of 100

being a friend it gets a bit sticky, but since you don't have the option of canceling the order, you have to find a way to make it work (insert Tim Gund voice!). don't let her tell you how to add elements, but instead lead the conversation so that you ask her what elements she wants and then you find a way to add them to the cake.

 

I had my line in the sand moment with a cake that a customer designed themselves with orange and purple scrolls and starbursts with alternating color ribbons on circle and square tiers. i knew it was ugly, but went with the 'it's what the customer wants' out and did it anyway--and hating every minute of it.  I vowed, never again would I do a cake I wasn't happy with! 

 

A few months later, I had a customer who wanted to have fondant swags on a cake, a la 1997. The photos she showed me were so dated and just ... yuck.  I struggled with how to give her the draped 'elegant' look she wanted, but then came up with a design that I was happy with (less structured and non-symmetrical swags, the drapes had more flow and movement down the tiers). I even worked in fluer di lis and bright blue orchids as requested. There was a 'novelty topper' though that there just was no helping!  

 

i have gone so far as to decline an order that the customer was pushing and pushing into a direction that I knew that wouldn't look good.  I finally told here that I just couldn't do her design to her vision (a modern and clean design featuring 14 different silhouette cookie cutter shapes of her daughter's favorite things like the state of Idaho, a church, lipstick, frog, grad cap, etc., on a 5"/8" cake, in a monochromatic color scheme of red and white.) 

post #5 of 100

I'm in the middle of this now.  I did a drawing for a cake and my friend was really excited.  I decided to do a mock up with dummies and was horrified! 

 

I came up with a new drawing with elements that will fix the problem but she seems to be a little confused.   I am meeting her again this week (my terms).  I find using the words balanced and elegant are helpful when trying to change directions.  Trying to get her to understand that when sketches are turned into cake the look can change because the medium is different.  I know she trusts me but this is for her boyfriend's birthday so she gets a little paranoid.  We shall see..... 

 

I have to really try and change her direction cause I really don't want to be associated with the original design even though It was my drawing. :(

 

I find taking the situation back on yourself will help people come to a conclusion that they think is theirs.  Hope that makes sense.

post #6 of 100

All you can do is try - If she insists you may have no choice - it is her day

post #7 of 100
I've made an ugly cake before, but I'm not my own boss lol. Just curious what does she want? Maybe someone here will have a stroke of genius
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post #8 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWinslow View Post

I'm in the middle of this now.  I did a drawing for a cake and my friend was really excited.  I decided to do a mock up with dummies and was horrified! 

I came up with a new drawing with elements that will fix the problem but she seems to be a little confused.   I am meeting her again this week (my terms).  I find using the words balanced and elegant are helpful when trying to change directions.  Trying to get her to understand that when sketches are turned into cake the look can change because the medium is different.  I know she trusts me but this is for her boyfriend's birthday so she gets a little paranoid.  We shall see..... 

I have to really try and change her direction cause I really don't want to be associated with the original design even though It was my drawing. icon_sad.gif

I find taking the situation back on yourself will help people come to a conclusion that they think is theirs.  Hope that makes sense.

Did you show her the dummy cake? I would show it to her and see what she thinks. Everyone has different tastes. Showing her the dummy will either bring her into the light of day and show her the error of her ways or cement her even more in her decision. If the first, yay. If the second, she is the bride and it is her day. Give her what she wants.
post #9 of 100
I've had to deal with the same issue in terms of making ugly cakes in the past, and finally I told myself no more! Now, I never let my clients dictate the overall design. After all, they are paying for your expertise, skill, and creativity, and I've learned that the baker usually knows best. Often I will try to incorporate some of the clients ideas into the designs, or if they show me a picture of something they like, I will put my own spin it. Honesty really is the best policy, so if a client shows me a cake they like circa 1980s, I will tell them if I think it's outdated, but then show them sketches that bring it up to date. Most people aren't aware of current trends in the cake world, so as a baker, it is our job to help educate them, and they are usually very grateful for it. I'm probably lucky in the fact that most of my clients have seen my work, so trust what I do. At the end of the day, you want a happy client, but you don't want to be miserable the whole entire time you are making their cake! Now, I just have to get over the fact that I have a client who wants a cupcake tower for her wedding in royal blue, bright yellow, and white.....lol
post #10 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by bct806 View Post


Did you show her the dummy cake? I would show it to her and see what she thinks. Everyone has different tastes. Showing her the dummy will either bring her into the light of day and show her the error of her ways or cement her even more in her decision. If the first, yay. If the second, she is the bride and it is her day. Give her what she wants.


I'm bringing it with me when we meet so she can see why I am concerned.   I'm pretty confident she will allow me to make adjustments.  I think it will take a visual for her to understand and that's OK.

post #11 of 100
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your replies. So this is the gist of it, I asked her if she wants an elegant cake or a whimsical cake and she told me she wants elegant. She wants a 5 tier ivory cake with white orchids and calla lilies, but not many flowers, she wants more of the elements on it. She wanted "girly things" (lipstick, eye shadow, nail polish etc...) down one side of the cake and football/Buffalo Bills stuff down the other side. She also has a buffalo bills topper (I hate store bought toppers!). 

So my design idea is as follows: The tiers will be gift boxes with big bows. 

Top tier - small spray of flowers with cake topper (cringe)

2nd tier (left side) - small spray of flowers with some of the girly elements, bow on the right side

3rd tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

4th tier (left side) - large bouquet with gumpaste show, haven't decided where to put the bow

5th tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

Cake board - small spray of flowers with girly elements and I though maybe nail polish spilling onto the board.

I was planning on doing white calla lilies, white orchids, white rose buds, white filller flowers and some red berries to get some color in there.

The worst part is, the groom is a complete groomzilla, and I know he wants a big glitzy cake. I suggested making a grooms cake instead if having the buffalo bills stuff on the cake, but she insisted on this. I know groomzilla will be disappointed.

I feel as though I could make this work as a whimsical cake, but I'm having a hard time envisioning this a an elegant wedding cake icon_confused.gif. Any suggestion or input would be greatly appreciated!

post #12 of 100

Reading your description, I have got nothing! I think you might have the best idea of how to make their elements work together. That's a tough one, I don't think I could put something like that together! Good luck and I hope it turns out well!
 

post #13 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by pouchet82 View Post

Thanks for all your replies. So this is the gist of it, I asked her if she wants an elegant cake or a whimsical cake and she told me she wants elegant. She wants a 5 tier ivory cake with white orchids and calla lilies, but not many flowers, she wants more of the elements on it. She wanted "girly things" (lipstick, eye shadow, nail polish etc...) down one side of the cake and football/Buffalo Bills stuff down the other side. She also has a buffalo bills topper (I hate store bought toppers!). 

So my design idea is as follows: The tiers will be gift boxes with big bows. 

Top tier - small spray of flowers with cake topper (cringe)

2nd tier (left side) - small spray of flowers with some of the girly elements, bow on the right side

3rd tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

4th tier (left side) - large bouquet with gumpaste show, haven't decided where to put the bow

5th tier (right side) - small spray of flowers with football elements, bow on left side

Cake board - small spray of flowers with girly elements and I though maybe nail polish spilling onto the board.

I was planning on doing white calla lilies, white orchids, white rose buds, white filller flowers and some red berries to get some color in there.

The worst part is, the groom is a complete groomzilla, and I know he wants a big glitzy cake. I suggested making a grooms cake instead if having the buffalo bills stuff on the cake, but she insisted on this. I know groomzilla will be disappointed.

I feel as though I could make this work as a whimsical cake, but I'm having a hard time envisioning this a an elegant wedding cake icon_confused.gif. Any suggestion or input would be greatly appreciated!


Wow.  I can see why you're concerned but it appears she wants some type of  his & her cake.   I did a search on Google to see if I could find some kind of design reference. - No help there - just split cakes with her stuff/his stuff.  Have you done a sketch or played with dummies or even boxes to get a sense of her concept and where you would have to put elements?.  Is the topper whimsical enough to tie the concept together? 

post #14 of 100
Uggghhhh.....it's a WEDDING cake! Not "this is your life"!

Good luck, OP! I hope she can tone it down a bit.
post #15 of 100

Yes...WOW!  Is it possible to make an elegantly gaudy cake?  That's what she's asking for, right? 

 

I think you should convince her to ditch the idea of "elegant" and go for "whimsical"....tell her that the rest of her wedding may be elegant, but this cake is where she really needs to let her casual personality show through...tell her how AWESOME and FUN she and her fiance are and that you really want THAT to come through on the cake.  Tell them that you will prepare some of the flowers and stick them in if you need a filler, but you aren't 100% sure that they will look right.  Explain that it's your biz name on the line and don't want to put anything out there that doesn't look good...she wouldn't want to tarnish your name, right?  ASK her to TRUST YOU AND YOUR ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE.  The last thing you want her to say is...Oh, that DOES look bad.  I shoulda listened! 

 

I'm sure you've done all of this, or some version of it, just trying to help!

 

Would doing the squares with the corner at the front of the cake table help with the division of he-said, she-said elements?  Make the left side him and the right side her.  Maybe on one of the tiers, toward the front corner that's pointing forward...nevermind.  SEE SKETCH...much easier that way!

 

Good luck and can't wait to see pics!

Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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