Sunday, February 26, 2012

Space Party, Adventures in Cricut Cake-ing, and a Cricut Cake tutorial!

We've had a fun week around here.  We had a birthday!
And I've been making some changes to the craft room, so stay tuned on Wednesday, I'll be showing you pictures and announcing an Imaginisce Tool Package giveaway for one of my blog followers, so join my blog for a chance to win!
Yesterday we had a "Space Party" at our house for my son's birthday.  
We had a "blast" :) Ha ha.
I used the Cricut Events Space Party cartridge for the decor and treats, and I think it's one of my new favorites.  I love the "interactive" designs on the cartridge.  It's not just shapes and pictures, it's 3D objects, and interactive cards, and super cool icons.

 As soon as I saw the cartridge images I thought it would be cool to have aliens coming out of the cupcakes.  I was going to do the icing grey like brains, but I drew the line with gross and went with cool "UFO" cupcake wrappers.  The wrappers were cut at 1 1/4" and were a little big.  The alien heads were 2."

This little guy was my centerpiece.  I cut him and his space ship out at 3.75" (which is fit to page size for the space ship- I have no idea where Provo Craft got that sizing from).  The black detail is cut at 3.75 also, which only fits on a 12x24 mat, unless you break the image apart on your Gypsy or in Craft Room.

The invitation is fun because you pull on the fire and the inside of the card comes out.  The envelope is also from the cartridge.

 All the kids got an alien mask (except the girls, who refused to wear one) so the boys chased the girl "humans" around for the whole party, which I don't think the girls minded a bit :)

 I actually cut the images opposite colors of what the cartridge said so that I could use the green eyes for my balloons.  I also did the cupcakes opposite because I knew I didn't want thin little black eye details to have to deal with.

 And here's the cupcake tower, my favorite part.  I have to be honest- this endeavor was a beast.  I'll tell you more about how I made them and the Cricut Cake below.  I did a step-by-step tutorial when I made these because it was my first time using the machine.  I thought it was worth documenting.  And that way you can avoid the mistakes I made, right?

 The wrappers are great, too because they have a bottom!  You can use them as treat cups, too, or whatever you want to put in them.

 The alien balloons were part of an activity.  I told the kids they could "hunt" them and shoot Nerf guns at them.

 The kids all took one home.

 Here's the creepy alien clan :)

 Here's the birthday boy.  What a handsome photo :)

 Alien invasion!!!

So if you're curious about the Cricut Cake, read on, because here's my step-by-step tutorial on what TO DO and what NOT TO DO when it comes to this tricky little machine.

A few years ago I started doing cakes for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc out of my home.  I used to painstakingly cut details out by hand with an exacto knife for all of my cakes.  Cakes like this one....
 which took hours because of all the hand cutting, so I eventually quit doing cakes because they took so long and were so dang hard to do by myself.

Which is why I was so intrigued by the idea of this machine.
 I finally got one not too long ago because they're so cheap now I couldn't pass it up, but I didn't have an opportunity to use it until yesterday.  It comes with a DVD, which is good, and then I found lots of videos on You Tube that were helpful (and some not so helpful)  so I thought it wouldn't be too hard.

HA!  I was so wrong :)

Let the adventure begin.....

I made my aliens out of fondant because gumpaste dries rock hard and is used for delicate decorations and isn't something you'd want to eat.  Fondant dries kind of chewy, like nougat.
 The machine comes with this dusting tool.  You can dust your counter top with powdered sugar, but I find that as the fondant warms up when you knead it, the powdered sugar makes it stickier, so I use cornstarch.  Cornstarch is the only way I've ever been able to keep the fondant from sticking to the countertop while rolling it out.

 I used Wilton brand fondant because I have a craft store down the street so it was convenient.  I have to tell you I was pleasantly surprised.  Wilton fondant used to be horrible tasting and smelled like motor oil.  It's fabulous now, the consistency is great, and it tastes like fondant (go figure) and it's comparatively priced with the fancy brands.  If you have access to a cake store, I like Pettinice or Satin Ice brand fondant.

 Fondant isn't ready to use right out of the package.  It has to be kneaded.  If you don't cover your countertop with anything, it will stick to the counter.  There are also kneading mats, but they also have to be dusted or the fondant will stick to those as well.

It's worth taking Wilton's classes if you've never used fondant before to cover a cake.  It's tricky at first.  For littler things like this, you can research kneading online.  I use both hands and press down with the heel of my hands into the fondant like I'm doing CPR, then turn the fondant 1/4 turn, fold it onto itself toward me, and press down again.  When folding try not to get big air pockets inside, or when you roll it out you'll have air bubbles.

 Once it's kneaded and soft, you can begin to roll it out.  For little jobs a regular dusted rolling pin is fine.  This type of rolling pin is for large sheets of fondant.  

When rolling fondant, the best thing I figured out is not to press the fondant into the countertop when rolling it, but rather using light pressure and rolling in all directions getting the fondant ball to flatten out.  If you press more lightly the fondant won't stick to the countertop much.

Roll it thin.  If it's too thick the machine will tear it apart, and if it's too thin it will tear.  I'd say with fondant 1/8 of an inch is too thick.  Go thinner than that.  Gumpaste is a whole other story, that stuff you roll as thin as possible.

Then you'll brush a thin layer of shortening on the mat to get it to stick to the mat.

If your fondant is too hard because of age or because you kneaded too much cornstarch into it, add shortening to it and knead it again.  Shortening is what is used to soften fondant, or if it's too soft, dust powdered sugar onto it and knead it to get it more firm.

 After it's rolled out, slide the mat under the fondant.  (it's easier than picking the fondant up).
(pretend that the entire mat is covered- this was my first practice run to see if it would work).
Now you'll want to trim away any fondant that's outside of the cutting lines.  Use a ruler and a plastic trimmer tool (in the photo on the right) to trim off the excess.  If you don't trim enough, fondant will get into your rollers.

Now's the tricky part.

The Cricut DVD doesn't talk about fondant.  I found out why.  Fondant needs to be at some magical perfect consistency in order for the machine to cut it.   

 If you put it into the machine right now, it's too soft and this happens.

People suggest putting the fondant sheets into the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting, but in the cake world, you don't freeze fondant.  It'll sweat when it warms back up and becomes a sticky mess.  So I didn't want to try that.  

Another lady on You Tube said that she keeps her fondant sheets out overnight and cuts them the next day.  The problem with that is that fondant will dry and get crumbly or crack.

I don't know why, but I trusted her and decided to try it her way.  It didn't work either, as you'll see

So next time, if I try this again with fondant, I'll let it sit for an hour or two and see what happens, or I'll just use frosting sheets, which is what everyone else does, and they're ready to cut right out of the package.

If you want to color your fondant or gumpaste first, use cake coloring, not grocery store food coloring because regular food coloring is water based.  You can find cake coloring gels at craft and cake decorating stores.  Wilton makes some in little jars.

Use a TINY amount, like a DROP at a time, and knead.  It goes a LONG way.  You can always add more. 

 You pull it like taffy and knead it again until it's the color you want.  Then follow the same steps as before.

Here are my sheets ready.  One's black and one's green.  They're covered in cornstarch so they look lighter than they are.  I didn't care if the black was dark because it was going on the back, but if you want black fondant, I suggest buying it already black.  Same with red.  Those two colors are impossible to make yourself. 
Or with black you can buy chocolate fondant and add black color to it.

Here's what happens when you leave the fondant overnight and cut it.  It's so dry it cracks.

Strike one.

Here's what happens if you roll your fondant too thick.  The blade drags across it every time it cuts a new line and tears it to shreads.

Strike two.

 See the nice diagonal lines?  Awesome.

At this point I was ready to throw in the towel.  But I tried and tried again.  After seriously hours, I ended up with enough aliens that I succeeded.  Try it at home and tell me what works for you.  I think pre-made frosting sheets or gumpaste is what I'm using from now on, but we'll see.

Here's a shot of the front of the machine after cutting.  There was cornstarch and shortening all over the cutting area, rollers, door, EVERYTHING.  The back was a mess, too.  It's a good thing the Cricut Cake is stainless steel and water wipe-able.  I would NEVER do this with my Cricut Expression.  EVER.  You'd ruin it.  And it's not food safe, either, so you'd give people metal poisoning or they'd eat whatever glue and residue is on the machine.

The Cricut Cake's super cheap, do it the safe way.

Here they are, ready to be put into the frosting on the cupcakes, and then devoured.
With practice and trial and error I think this will be a fun machine.

That was the longest post ever.  And the longest project ever.  I'm tired.
I need a nap.

Have a great day!
Stay tuned for a post on Wednesday showing you my craft room and it's new additions, plus an Imaginisce Tool package giveaway for one of my blog followers.  So follow me for your chance to win!!!



  1. I've used modeling chocolate with great success in my cricut cake. It's pretty easy to make (even easier to buy) and tastes like chocolate (either dark, milk or white).

  2. What a great party theme. Everything looks so great. Thank you for the great tutorial :-)

  3. I'll have to try modeling chocolate! Great idea!

  4. You have the most amazing parties! :) I always wondered about that machine, now I know I won't be getting one! :)

  5. Amazing. Great Work!! Following from SC.
    Janet yates

  6. I have the same machine. It took a while to get the thickness perfect. Did the best cuts come after leaving the fondant out for a few hours before cutting? I will have to try that.

  7. AMAZING!!! I am the illustrator that created the Space Party cartridge for Cricut. I am way impressed with all that you did with it!


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