This was one truly EPIC cake smash in every way! Iris's mom, Holly, inspired me to create an entire world. During one conversation with her, I admitted honestly (and with a laugh) that I was out of control! I don't consider myself a crafty person, but I surprised my self. I'm quite proud of the way the hand made props and backdrop came out! I had a vision and successfully made it come to life. It was so much work, but Iris and Holly were worth every second of time and dollar spent!
I got all my supplies at local craft stores and set up a work table in my garage. For the This Way That Way sign, I created the words in the font I wanted on the computer, printed them out, then hand painted them on the wood. I thought it was pretty good for not having painted anything seriously since art school in...um...well, it was a long time ago! I nailed them to a piece of scrap wood that I sprayed gold and added a base.
"Iris in Onederland" is a hand cut sign out of gold paper. I created the letters on the computer, printed and cut them out, then traced them onto the gold. I cut that out with an Exacto knife and scissors and then added sparkle with glitter paint. The knife blade was so dull, it took a lot longer than it should have. Then my husband came home and handed me the box of new blades that I couldn't find.
The roses I actually painted red, then hot glued them and the gold sign to an indoor/outdoor carpet. I was hoping it would look like a shrub, in reference to the labyrinth. I think I pulled it off. I also made a door with the Door Knob character from the Disney movie. I bought a plaque made from pallet wood at one of the craft stores and hinges and a cabinet knob from a hardware store that I spray painted gold. I had my husband draw the character's face for me on the gold paper. Then I used my now sharp Exacto knife to cut him out.
I searched everywhere around the Syracuse, NY area to find toadstools. I thought with it being gardening season, they would be easily found, but not so. I wanted more of them, but worked with what I could find. The floor is a vinyl remnant I found at a discount store. I had planned on using a big roll of paper and painting the black squares to create a checkerboard. Two days before the shoot, I came up with the awesome idea of using actual flooring...and then had to run all over the place to find what I wanted. It's actually blue and white, but it worked and I ended up liking the added color. I ordered the White Rabbit from amazon.com. Mostly because I really wanted to include him and didn't dare try to draw him...but also because I just love stuffed animals. The stool is an antique milking stool that my mother-in-law generously allowed me to borrow. The tea cup tower is one of the centerpieces that Iris's mom made for the birthday party. When I saw them sitting on her dining room table, I just had to add one to the set!
Now of course, the lynch pin set piece...the AMAZING teapot cake. Melanie of Peace, Love & Cake outdid herself, again. Whenever her and I get together, we get a little over excited and come up with some crazy ideas. When we designed the cake initially, neither of us were concerned with structural integrity. I mean, why would we worry about stuff like that when there's patterns and colors and yummy fondant shapes to discuss? So of course, once Melanie got down to designing the cake logically, she had some concerns about Iris's safety. Normally, when a cake artist attaches things like a solid fondant spout and handle, wooden dowels and sharp toothpicks are plentiful. But with a smash cake, those types of things can be dangerous to little hands. Melanie and I traded ideas back and forth, researched all kinds of options online, and ultimately she came up with a plan that she felt comfortable with. Our original idea survived a day of hectic googling and possible severe disappointment. Add three adorable cupcake teacups and BOOM!
The day of the shoot...oh my gosh I was so excited! I drove to Holly's home directly from a three month session with one of my other favorite little girls, my car packed with all the props I made, several rolled backdrops, and all my lighting equipment (because just in case). I set up in their living room and Holly got Iris into her fantastic Wonderland inspired dress. Everything was ready!
Of course, she wanted nothing to do with the cake at first. She was much more interested in the roses on the backdrop. Not only did her cake not look anything like a cake, but she didn't really know what cake was. Have you ever tried to convince a one year old that a teapot is actually really yummy to eat?
It took myself and both her parents to get her to take interest in the cake. She liked the fondant hearts, so that got her started.
The fondant was yummy (marshmallow flavored) but kinda hard. Iris wasn't sure what to think about that.
Cupcakes are good...but those little floppy teacup things were much better.
Mom and Dad were trying all sorts of tricks to get her to eat the cake. Dad opened up the back of it a little so she could see what was inside. They even put some frosting in her mouth.
Iris didn't seem to like having her hands dirty, so I suggested giving her a spoon. Dad put some cake on it and she ate it off, then promptly refused to use the spoon to eat any more of the cake!
Throughout the whole session, she kept trying to crawl away and her parents had to continuously chase her down. It was a lot of work, but at one point when Dad tried to put her back behind the cake, she stood up long enough for me to get my favorite shot of the day.
She munched on several more pieces of the fondant and gnawed on the handle of the teapot for a while. Then Iris and White Rabbit became fast friends!
On one of her attempts to crawl away, Iris discovered a toadstool. At that point, we were running out of ways to get her to smash the cake, so I enthusiastically encouraged her to hit the cake with the toadstool. She wasn't sure at first and watched my reaction closely, like she thought it was too good to be true. I cheered her on, though, and she started to have fun with it.
I knew I had a bunch of great images, so I asked Mom and Dad what they thought about putting her hands in the cake. I knew she wouldn't like it and would get mad, but it might be worth a try. They agreed and Dad had far too much fun shoving Iris's hands into the cake. Her reaction was just what I expected. The Red Queen in her came out! If she could talk, she undoubtedly would have shouted "Off with your heads!"
Iris is definitely the most adorable and lovable Red Queen to ever rule. I think her parents smashed more cake than she did, but I'll give Iris all the credit anyway. I had so much fun with this session. I can't wait to photograph her Wonderland themed birthday party this weekend!
Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger