Monday, June 3, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Sculpted Dog Cake

Craftsy LogoThis sculpted dog cake class was taught by Elisa Strauss, who also did the handbag cake class. It was very thorough and will give you a good idea of the structure of a 3-D stand up cake if you haven't done one before.

I'll start right out saying that the sound engineer for this class needs to be slapped, because Elisa sounded really shrill in the first part and I was thinking that I was going to have to suffer through an entire class with that noise, but that seemed to calm down in the second section. So don't despair if you have the same reaction.

In the grand tradition of Craftsy classes being full of filler material, the first 15 minutes of the class were devoted to how to cut out a dog tag and make a loop to hang it on. Yeah, that's right, 15 minutes. This was totally unnecessary, because the class is really long based on the nature of the topic.

The explanations of the supports is good and helps you to visualize how you need to dowel the cake.
There's no need to blow up a drawing of the dog, though. This is the same thing as the purse class...Just use MATH to figure out the ratios and proportions, it will save you a lot of time and trips to the print store. I definitely agree with getting as many photos of the dog from different angles as you can, though.

Based on the number and size cakes that she's using, it looks like she's going to be wasting a lot of cake, but she explains that she does it that way to make sure she has enough cake to get the right shapes in the legs, etc. Her explanation of how to stack the rounds is thorough, and it makes sense as she goes through the process even if it looks strange to begin with..

(I do want to add that she carves her cakes when they're cold from the freezer, but you don't have to do that. I don't have a freezer that big, and I carve everything at room temperature, so don't worry if you can't fit a tall cake in the freezer. It's actually better to do it warm because that way if it's going to shift it will do it and you can see if it's going to fall over or do something weird.)

Carving the cake takes a looooong time, but yes, that takes a while in real life. She shows how to do it bit by bit, and if you can stay awake through it you'll learn how to you need to do it gradually. I didn't like the way that the cake was so precarious in terms of falling forward...When I do 3-D animals I make sure that every level is secure and level as I'm building it, so there's no need for a center dowel to secure it. I'd be nervous if I had to do any kind of special supports to keep the cake from falling over during the carving process. But one way to look at it is that if your cake starts falling over, she shows you how to secure it better, so you'll learn that skill!

The next section is about customizing fur for different dogs, and involves a bunch of fur impression mats that you press onto the fondant. If you can't afford $25 each for those you can just carve the fur markings into the fondant with a knife or another sculpting tool. But those mats surely do make it fast to put fur marks on the fondant, and if you do a lot of dog cakes it would be worth buying one. I might make one for myself the next time I have to do a cake with fur on it.

There are then sections on attaching the head and doing the details on the cake. As I said before, it's a long class. I fell asleep once because it's tedious to watch the whole process of a cake like this being made, but it's truth in advertising because it's a tedious process to make a dog cake. I can easily spend 5-6 hours or more on an animal cake depending on the level of detail on it.

My overall review:

Skill Level: Intermediate
Equipment You Have To Have: Boards, dowels, fondant, the basics.
Sleep-Inducing Level: Oh yeah, I fell asleep.
What It Assumes You Already Know: How to work with fondant.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Not much, but I would support the cake differently so that it didn't tilt. That's just a difference in dowelling methods so it wasn't too bad. Also, the templates. Just use photos of the dog, a ruler, and some math.
Annoying Host Habits: I was not annoyed other than the first section where her voice was really shrill, but that was an issue with the sound, I think.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: This class was very, very good for someone who has never done a stand-up animal cake and wants to see how they're built. The individual sections were tedious because they were so thorough, so it's worth watching the whole thing without skipping sections if you've never done a cake like this before. If you've done 3-D cakes like this you probably won't learn a lot, but it's always interesting to see how someone else builds a cake like this.

Click here for my Craftsy pattern shop, which has a bunch of freebies in it: A Cake To Remember On Craftsy

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at and


k parker said...

Kara I hope you get offered a lot of money to teach at Craftsy , I would watch them!

k parker said...

I mean, I would watch all your classes!