This design didn’t start off with little Ben in mind.
Actually, I was asked to be the guest editor for the latest issue of Sweet Magazine, and in accepting, I was to commission a team of cake artists to each design a cake for this issue, under the theme of “art”. VERY cool.
Art, we did. Each of us was to use a piece of artwork, whether a canvas or a sculpture, as the inspiration for our piece.
All I knew, before deciding upon my inspiration, was that my brain wanted color. And lots of it. I searched online, and I ended up choosing two random canvases… the artist of each, unknown (or at least I couldn’t find them. ). One was a gorgeous “tree of color” painting… and the other, actually, “crayon” art. Have you heard of that yet?
(I used rolled pieces of modeling chocolate to create the trunk of the tree and then dabbed globs of royal icing onto them and poked at the royal icing with my brush a bit to create the leaves.
I airbrushed the different colors onto the royal icing, and then dripped airbrush food colors, very carefully using a paint brush, down from the tree. Click here to check out the airbrush set I used.)
Crayon art, in a nutshell, is the lining up of a bunch of crayons at the top of a canvas, usually in a spectrum of colors, gluing them there and then gettin’ all crazy on them with a blow dryer. They start to melt down the length of the canvas, creating a colorful feast for the eyes. Also, VERY cool.
I just thought the piece of crayon art that I stumbled upon, in particular, was ingenious… and it moved me. There was a grey girl holding her umbrella under those falling colors… almost afraid of being touched by them. I fell in love with it, like I did with the tree… and a new vision popped into my head, merging the two ideas.
(Modeling chocolate butterflies. Click here to see the butterflies molds I used!)
And the butterflies. Somewhere along the line, I just saw butterflies, and decided they needed to be there.
Little did I know, that much, much later, after the magazine would be released, I would see this design, this cake that I made, in a completely different light.
Imagine, for a second, that you’re that girl (or just switch ‘er to a boy, all of my male friends) and that you’re holding that umbrella… that you’re gray, and you’re afraid of that color threatening to saturate you. Who on EARTH would be afraid of that, right?
Well, think of it this way… what if you get that color, and you love it?
What if it fills your world so completely that you don’t think you could ever live without it again?
And then, what if it’s taken away… and you’re left gray again?
(Umbrella made of modeling chocolate in solid half sphere shape cut in half and then covered in fondant, glued onto the cake with melted chocolate with a skewer also poking into it and through the cake to help it stay in place.
I drew the girl onto a piece of gumpaste using a black food coloring marker, cut her out and then shaded her with gray petal dust.)
A different way to ask that question… is it better to have loved and lost, or to never have loved at all?
Yes, I’m thinking about my friends, Mindy and Andy, and how they’ve just lost a piece of their heart… their little Ben.
(Splatters of color “flicked” onto the cake using the toothbrush method. (As demonstrated in my Craftsy class, here.)
I already know the answer to that last question I’ve asked, but I’ll never claim to believe that it’s an easy one. They’ve lost a son. He was a twin. He was a part that made up the whole. Every child is, twin or not… I know, as I am a mother, too. It must only be a deep wound that can never be fully healed. I can’t imagine it any other way.
And yet, not having had that color to begin with? No. Not an option. Every second is… was, precious.
So now, when I look at this cake, “The Color Tree” as I originally named it, I only see Mindy and Andy, and Ben.
And those butterflies?
In my mind, they’re on their way up to Ben…
maybe to whisper to him that his mama and daddy will be ok…
and that they miss him beyond words…
and that they’re hoping he’s enjoying his new wings…
and that someday, they’ll be with him again.
So now, I’ve renamed this cake. To me, it will always be “Ben’s Color Tree“. Reminding me that I have a short space of time to live this life… to love those God has given to me, and to stand under that color tree with my head tilted back, arms spread wide, being filled with every last splash of beauty God has for me.
‘Cause we only get a little bit of time here. And even though that color has the potential to rip us in two, it can also save our lives… and give us the strength we need to really LIVE.
Lord, have mercy upon me… I choose the color. Xx