How to Make Thranduil’s Elven King Crown (Costume Tutorial)

Almost a year ago, I decided to dress my husband up as Thranduil for the premiere of Desolation of Smaug. It’s definitely become one of my favourite costumes of his, and seems to be super popular with the internet – I’ve gotten more emails about this costume than all other costumes, combined. It’s also the costume in my most popular Tumblr post ever!

(It also added a whole other level to the “Let’s get Porter drunk and make him rap the lyrics to pop songs he’s never heard” thing I was doing a while back. Great fun, but not really safe for work… The Twerking Video, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”, and “The Fox”.)

ANYWAY.

That crown took some DOING. As pictured in that blog entry and on Tumblr.. that was our second attempt. My first one was awful. The second one – also made with polymer clay – was OK, but by no means accurate. It was also heavy and uncomfortable.

I was midway through the 3rd incarnation – A really difficult, messy, 1st ever attempt at ANYTHING made from fibreglass – when one of the people I follow on Tumblr posted a pic of a white plastic twig he’d just made for HIS new crown. I was intrigued! What was this mystery material, and where could I get some?

He told me it was called Instamorph, and I promptly ordered a container from Amazon to play with. I decided that – depending on how my first few twigs felt – I’d basically do the same base idea for the crown as I’d be doing on my earlier versions, but without supporting wires through the twigs.

It worked! The first twig turned out perfectly, even with some bark texture to it, as the result of pulling a mass of “beads” out to a long stick. It was obvious that by sculpting from plastic, I’d be able to get a lighter, more durable, and FAR more accurate crown. BEHOLD THE RESULT:

Gorgeous.

I’ve made a few for commissions, but recently decided that it’s getting monotonous – I don’t enjoy making the same thing over and over again. So, on my most recent order, I decided it would be the last I’d make… and that it would be a GREAT subject for a tutorial! Great timing, too, what with both Halloween AND Battle of the Five Armies coming up.

So, let’s do this. Instamorph is the best thing ever, I’ve had a lot of fun making a bunch of other things from it ever since, including the wings on my Mini Katniss Wedding Gown. Awesome stuff!

Please excuse the crappy pictures for the tutorial itself. My husband was at work when I had this spur-of-the-moment idea, so I was stuck taking cell phone pics while trying to work quickly with the other hand!

You will need

Heavy wire: I use 10 gauge copper THHN wire.
Wire cutters
Electrical tape
Lightweight copper wire
Pencil
16 oz Instamorph pellets
Pot of boiling water
Metal Spoon
Black or dark brown spray primer (for plastic)
Acrylic paints
Leaves
Glue gun or E-6000

Using the heavy wire and electrical tape, fashion a base that looks like this:


Take your time to make sure it fits well, sits where you’d like it (It does NOT have to stay up by itself, though), and that the pointed ends stop where you’d like them to at your cheek. If you have a wig, try it on WITH the wig on. The final crown will bend a bit if needed, but it’s definitely best to get the base as accurate as possible beforehand!

Cut 6 or so lengths of thin copper wire, about 3″ long each. One at a time, bend each wire over the pencil, and twist the ends to form little loops with wire ends that extend out in opposite directions, like this:


Using small strips of electrical tape, secure the thin wire loops to the crown base thusly:

Now for the fun part – the Instamorph! This is what it looks like:

Get a pot of water boiling. Yes, it’s hotter than what it actually recommends on the container, but I’m pretty sure that’s for liability reasons. You want boiling water for this, just be CAREFUL.

When the water is boiling, move it to a potholder on your work surface, and sprinkle in some of the Instamorph pellets. As they melt, they will turn from white to clear:



Once clear, scoop out a small chunk of Instamorph with a metal spoon. Pull it into a long strip, and wrap it around the crown base. You’ll want to wrap all of the wire, a bit at a time… but it doesn’t have to be pretty at this step. Just get it covered!



As the plastic cools, you’ll be left with a base that looks something like this:

Take your heat gun, and – working in small sections – melt the wrapped plastic right on the base. Once melted, use your fingers to smooth it all out. Not only will this LOOK better, it makes the whole thing stronger:


Now, to make the twigs. Take a chunk of melted plastic from the water, and stretch it out into a twig shape. I like to form dents into the lump before stretching it out, to make smaller twigs sticking out from each main twig piece:




Make a fair amount of straight twigs, pairing them off into groups of similar length ones. While the crown shouldn’t be EXACTLY symmetrical (it’s supposed to be nature, after all!), balance is a good thing! Let them all cool until hard

Decide approximately where each of these twigs will be attached to the crown. One twig at a time, heat up both the thick (bottom) end of the twig AND the spot where you’ll be attaching it on the crown base. Once both parts are clear and look sort of wet, attach the twig to the base. Smush it in and sculpt excess melted plastic so that you get a really great, coherent bond.

Hold in place until cool – running it under cold water or dunking it into a bowl of ice water speeds this up.

Continue this process with all the main twigs along the top row of the crown:





Add twigs to the bottom row of the crown, using the same technique:

At this point, your water will probably be too cool for the next step – bring it to a boil again.

One piece at a time, make more twigs.. but instead of letting them cool before use, wrap them around current attached twigs, attaching at the base of the crown. You basically want a bunch of entwined branches in the end:



You’ll notice, as they cool, that they’re not stuck on very well. Once you’re happy with what you’ve got, you’ll want to reinforce all of the connections. Working in small sections, use your head gun to melt both parts of pieces you want to attach. Once clear, smush and sculpt.

As a general rule, I make sure that I melt/sculpt each of the bottoms of this second round of twigs to either the base of the crown, or – if they’re attaching to another twig, rather than the base of the crown – the twig they’re attached to. As well, I’ll melt them together wherever one new twig initially makes contact with another twig, and usually a point or two along the curly-wrapped sections.

It should start looking something like this:



Continue adding accent pieces – not only vertically, but entwining horizonally along the bases, and even up the side of the cheek parts. If you don’t like something, you can always reheat it with the heat gun and tweak it, add to it, or remove it.

Once you’re happy with it, sit back and admire your work. (The pictures from here on in are from the first crown, not the one I made in the tutorial. I shipped it before my husband came home, AND it was just a plain white, unpainted crown commission!):





Now, paint it! I don’t actually have in-progress photos of when I painted that first one, so I’ll just describe the process.

First, give it a good all-over coat of spray primer. Spray as much as you can, let it dry fully, then flip it over and spray the rest. Make sure all the plastic is covered.

From here, I used a medium brown acrylic and a small paintbrush to MOSTLY cover the whole crown. I avoided a few places that could look like knots in trees, and deep areas that would look good with dark shadowing. Let it dry completely

Then I used a dark brown acrylic (not as dark as the primer) and a REALLY small brush to add a few extra shadows and details throughout. Let THAT dry fully.

Then I used a really light brown mixed with a small amount of gold to add sparse highlighting throughout. Let that dry.

I decided that the highlighting was too obvious, so I mixed a very small amount of the medium brown with water to make a thin wash, and sponged that over the entire crown. Wipe off any excess, and let it dry:






Finally, use a glue gun or E-6000 glue to attach your plastic leaves throughout the crown. Let it dry fully before use.




To wear, position crown on head, use bobby pins in the copper loops (I like to use 2 in each loop, facing opposite directions) to secure the crown in place.

Enjoy… and hey, if you’re interested in following more of my costuming adventures, be sure to “Like” my costuming page on Facebook, here!

How to Make Weeping Angel Costumes – Costuming Tutorial

So, it’s been about a week and a half since we won “Best in Show” at the BritCon costume contest (Woo hoo! First time we’ve entered a con masquerade!) probably time to post the “How We Did It” post that I was promising that weekend.

First off, this is a pretty in depth post, with a TON of photos and info. If you have some experience in sewing and whatnot, it should be easy enough to follow. I don’t have the space or time to do up an actual step by step for the whole thing – these costumes took a TON of time to make! We’ve been picking away at it since I returned from MasterChef, and actually did NOT manage to have them completed in time for BritCon! (They’ll be ready for Convergence, though… we are SUPER excited!). To be fair, we were also busy with business, MasterChef, and still rebuilding our kitchen.

While these took a lot of time to make – and we probably killed a few million brain cells, breathing in all the spray paint fumes on account of crappy weather outside! – these were TOTALLY worth it. Even at a super tiny convention like BritCon, we had a *BLAST*!

We arrived early and costumed up on the Saturday, and had a ton of fun scaring the hell out of the groggy, just-woke-up people in the hallways. We had many photos taken, which was a weird experience – I hate getting my picture taken, but didn’t mind it at all when completely obscured by a costume.


Photo Courtesy of Ben Huset

Also, when it comes time for Convergence, we’re looking forward to the BEST photo bombing opportunities ever. Muahahhaa!!

Anyway, let’s get going..

THE MASKS

We tackled the masks first, as they were the most intimidating part. I’d never made a mask before! Not even the wings scared us, as that was just… geometry and physics. I may know how to sculpt cake, but I’d never done anything with plaster casting OR paper clay before, so… yeah. Nervous!

First, I used plaster cast on Porter’s face to create the base of the mask, twice. Luckily, our faces are close enough in size/shape that both masks are quite comfortable!

To prepare, I clipped his hair back and covered his face in vaseline. I did – I think? – about 3 layers of cast material over the whole face, with a couple extra layers around the nose area. Also, as the face would be elongated in the chin area to allow for the “scream”, I wadded up a ball of plaster and applied it to the underside of the chin, securing it down with looong strips of plaster coming up on either side of the face.

After drying, I used paper clay to sculpt the face. This was just freehand, while looking at a printout from a pic I found online.

After drying, I painted with a base coat of grey acrylic, added shadows to the insides of wrinkles, etc and highlights to the tops of ridges, etc.

Once all of that was dry, I sprayed the masks liberally with granite texture spray, and allowed it to cure well. Once this was all dry, we cut some narrow, small slits in each mask – one set at the temples, another set near the back of the jaw bone, and threaded regular elastic through. While we hadn’t gotten around to painting the elastic in time for Britcon (As EVERY well-meaning critic managed to point out!), we will have them finished by Convergence 🙂

The hair really makes it, eh?
The eyes were a little bit of drama. Our original idea was to get a couple pairs of cheap sunglasses from the dollar store, cover with some black or grey pantihose, and spray with texture. Well, then we realized that our masks were SO perfectly fitting, that the edges of the lenses would be annoying at best.

What we finally came up with worked perfectly: Comfortable, easy, looked great AND allowed for pretty decent vision!

I bought a pair of opaque black tights, and cut 4 squares out of it. Without stretching them, I sprayed them liberally with texture and allowed it to dry fully. Once dry, I stretched them out a bit.

I ran a thick line of hot glue around the inside of each eye hole, and applied a square to the inside of each mask, textured side facing out. Once that dried, I piped another line of glue to the outside of the mask, just on the inside of the eye holes – think “eyeliner”. I carefully pressed the fabric into the new line of glue from behind the mask. This made it look more natural, not so sunken in…. and also gave us a bit of room so our eyelashes weren’t hitting up against the eye part constantly!

THE WIGS

First I bought two cheap costume wigs, used a stitch ripper to remove all of the hair.

I took 3 balls of yarn – grey, white, and black, just in case any showed through – and cut them into LONG lengths… about twice as long as I wanted, so I could sew a seam up the middle.

I cut a piece of non stretch fabric about 1/2 the length of the center seam of the wig, and stitched the yarn to it with a very tight zigzag – yarn centered over the fabric, which was only about 1/2-3/4″ wide

From there, I sewed that piece down to the top part of the wig cap

From there, I styled both of the wigs… Porter was a VERY patient model!

First, I pulled enough hair forward to make a double twist down each side of the face. Just behind that second, I affixed a “headband” that I’d made from a tube of light blue spandex.

I’ll be honest, I had NO idea what I was doing, so I just sort of pulled and twisted everything until it looked passable. Hair is NOT my forte!

As I was going, I used LONG lengths of yarn and a yarn needle to sew everything into place. Twists and braids were secured not only to themselves, but down to the wig cap as well. The goal was that the style would NOT move, once I tied everything off and took the wig off his head.

When I came to the end of styling, I twisted any remaining ends of yard under and sewed them into place.


I stuffed the wig caps with newspaper to hold it to a head shape, and painted it with grey acrylic paint. It took several coats – and several days to dry – as I made sure to SOAK it. I wanted the paint to sort of act as a glue, as well.

Once the wigs were completely dry, I sprayed them liberally with granite texture spray paint.

THE DRESSES

Ok, the dresses are something that could use a lot of photos/diagrams to explain. Of course, I didn’t think to take pics as I went… so, hopefully words are enough.

First off, we decided how big of a hoop we wanted for the hem, and settled on 30″ diameter. We used lengths of 9 gauge wire for form two rings, one each.

Once that was done, I set about designing and making the dresses, which have three main parts – A liner, an outer skirt, and an outer bodice.

Liner:

This was a floor length, fairly fitted liner. Gores were added to either side of the bottom, as well as to the center back seam – this was to add enough fullness to the bottom of the lining hem, that it would easily fit around the hoop. The center back seam of the top was left wide open (but finished!) from just below the neckline, to the waistline. This was to allow for access to the wing apparatus.

Outer Skirt:

This was made from 2 lengths of 60″ wide fabric, cut long enough to be waist – floor, plus a couple inches for hem, plus a few more inches to allow for it to “pool” a bit around the hem. Additionally, long pockets were sewn near the top of each side seam – long enough to easily conceal wallets, water bottles, etc.

Outer Bodice:

This took a fair amount of planning – we wanted to completely conceal the wing apparatus, while still allowing convenient enough access to easily get the wings on and off.

The outer bodice was made of 6 parts – a front yoke, a back yoke, front main bodice (the gathered section), two back main bodice parts, and a “flap” for the back, to further conceal the apparatus.

The front main bodice was gathered and sewn to the front yoke. Easy!

The back bodice.. let me see if I can describe this well. The flap was finished along both long edges. It was sewn, right side down, to the center of the back yoke piece. The two main back bodice pieces were finished on what would be the center back, and sewn down over the flap seam, overlapping by about two inches, and the rest of the top edge of the main piece was gathered and stitched down along the bottom of the yoke edge.

When the seam is flipped open, the flap covers the open center back.. which isn’t all THAT open, on account of the overlap.

On the bottom of the main back bodice piece, the two pieces are overlapped in the same manner that they are up top, and stitched down. From there, the side seams are sewn, and all horizontal seams (shoulders, bottom edges of yoke) are reinforced with bias tape to completely enclose the seam. Then, the bottom edge of the bodice is gathered.

Dress Assembly:

– With the right sides together, I sewed the neck seam. Flipped it right side out and also sewed around the seam from the outside – this made it lay more flat, and reinforced it.

– I serged the liner to the outer bodice at the arm holes, flipped the edges and stitched them down to finish the edge.

– I sewed the outer bodice to the outer skirt, gathering the skirt a bit as I went. I was aiming for a fair amount bigger than waist size, to allow for a drawstring later. Make sure that the side seams match up, as well as the center back and center front. I finished this seam off by enclosing it in bias tape as well.

– Add a LONG drawstring, finishing in the center back of the waist. It’s accessed from the center back of the bodice, and the ends are tucked in after being tightly tied around the waist. With the time and expense of these costumes, I wanted them to be able to fit through ANY weight fluctuations we may go through!

– Making sure everything is lining up, I pinned the bottom edge of the outer skirt to the bottom edge of the liner, matching up side seams, center back, and center front. There was more outer skirt than inner, so I gathered it – evenly – to fit as I sewing the two pieces together around the entire bottom edge.

– To finish this off, I flipped the bottom edge towards the underside of the dress, and VERY carefully sewed the whole bottom edge around one of the hoops. This is tedious, but not super difficult. Once the entire hoop is enclosed, evenly distribute the fabric mass along the edge of the hoop. Done!

Once the dresses were completely finished, in terms of the sewing… we had to paint them. This used a TON of granite texture spray paint, but it made a HUGE difference.

We aimed to get it in between the folds as much as we could, but the variance in coverage looked amazing – like shadows, etc.

THE BODYSUITS

With our Aspie sensory/texture issues, one thing was sure – we would NOT be able to handle makeup or other skin paint. Ugh!

So, I made a very customized set of bodysuits to suit our needs. It was a full, relatively tight spandex shirt, with full sleeves, attached gloves, and a hood that covered most of the face. I picked a lightly textured grey nylon lycra for this.

You can’t see it here, but there is a strip of velcro up the back of the neck/head to make it easier to get into, while still maintaining a very fitted profile once done up.

One feature I built is was that the gloves were only attached on the top and sides of the wrists, but not on the underside. The glove part under the wrist had a flap of fabric attached that tucked in under the wrist of the sleeve, so you couldn’t really see that it was an opening. This was to make washroom trips, etc a lot easier!

Once the suit was completely sewn and I was happy with the fit, I had to make it look more realistic.

I traced both of our hands and arms, and made stretch forms out of cardboard.

Once the stretch forms were placed inside the sleeves/gloves, I used superglue to attach a set of fake nails to the gloves. I had fit the nails to our hands beforehand, to make them proportionate to our actual hands.

Once the glue dried, I coated them with some matte white nail polish. If I had my time back, I would have used black or grey – I just didn’t have any on hand, and was feeling lazy! This is what it looked like after one coat of texture spray. (One a subsequent coat of spray, I pulled the wrist flay out and sprayed it as well – really helped it blend in!)

Once the nails were completely dry, I used granite texture spray paint to paint/texture the entire hood, arms, and shoulders, as well as the upper part of the chest and back.

THE WINGS

The wings were the big stress for us this whole time. We’d looked online and didn’t see anything that looked at all comfortable, so we decided to – I’m sorry! – wing it.

After studying “Blink”, making notes of wing length/height/etc proportions, we figured out approximately the size we’d want, and I sketched it out on rosin paper

With my custom rosin paper pattern, my husband cut 8 wing pieces out from 1/2″ foam insulation. Each wing would have one front foam piece, and one back piece.

We cut feathers from sill plate insulation, glued them down with foam adhesive, and then sapled them down for good measure.

We designed our wing apparatus to be based on a 3/4″ thick piece of hard wood. 4 holes were drilled on the top edge, going straight down about 6″ deep. Each wing was designed to have 4 ends of wire sticking out: two would be bent to rest in these top holes, and two would slip into these black plastic cable straps that we positioned on the outside of the wood piece, and screwed them down.

Porter took great care to make sure both sides of each apparatus were symmetrical, and that the wires that would come out of the wings were in the appropriate places – you may be able to see the diagram we had drawn out on the pink rosin paper in the photo above.

With a diagram ready, Porter had to bend 9 guage galvanized wire to form the wing supports. (2 pairs of pliers will help get some sharp corners on bending the wire, but your hands will still be sore!)


Each wing ended up with 2 separate wire pieces – one upper piece to go in the top of the wood, and one lower piece to rest in the black cable tie things.

Once everything was bent and fit – and we were SURE everything would go where it was supposed to, it was time to assemble it all.

The wire was stapled down to one side of the foam wings with 1″ narrow crown staples, angled downward into the foam. After MUCH frustration with staples pulling right out, we started using two staples at each staple point, facing in opposite directions. Problem solved!

Once the wire was completely stapled down, the wings were glued together with foam insulation adhesive and weighted down to dry (we used leftover bathroom tiles as weights). It took quite a bit of adhesive – 4 normal size tubes for two sets of wings.

I don’t have a photo for the next step: We filled any spaces between the front/back of each wing with caulking, allowed it to dry, then hand carved all the edges to be rounded.

Once the wings were completely dry, I painted them. First, I coated them with a grey colored spray primer, then with a generous coating of granite texture paint.

Once the texture paint was dry, I felt that it was sort of flat looking, so I mixed some VERY thin, watery darkk/ light grey acrylic paint, and sponged on some shadows and highlights. (Sorry for the cell phone pic – it doesn’t do it justice!)

Back to the apparatus: We bought some strapping, and attached it to the back (outside) of the apparatus using Gorilla Glue and staples, each end sewn to adjustable strap fasteners.

Note: be careful where you staple! If you staple into your drilled holes, you’ll have to ream them in order to get the wires in later – we learned the hard way!

Note 2: We failed to account for the fact that Porter does NOT have boobs to hold the “X” of the strapping in place, so his straps end up crossing up in front of his neck and showing above the neckline of the dress – not cool. We’ll be fixing this before Convergence!

Once the glue dried on the wooden part, we had to try it all out – PERFECT! Again, I think the hair really makes the picture… (Also: this was before we’d finished painting the wings!)

To get the whole thing on, here’s what we do, in order:

– Bodysuit (leaving our hands poking out of the wrist holes)

– Apparatus

– Dress

– Wings: Flip the back flap up and over a shoulder, pull the back bodice panels aside to expose the apparatus. Slide the wings in, adjust the back bodice panels to conceal the apparatus, and flip the flap back down – the bottom edge tucks into the waist.

– Mask

– Wig

DONE! They’re super easy to get in and out of, so… mission accomplished! Also, with the wings as light as they are, and the way we designed the apparatus, these are not difficult to wear at all. My only problem was overheating, but that’s just because I don’t sweat properly. Porter was able to wear his for hours, no problem!

THE BABY

We wanted to have some fun with the costumes, so we decided that we NEEDED a baby. We went to a thrift shop to find a baby doll… and found a really beat up looking one that was about the right size.

After washing the doll, I tied the hair back with elastic – as much as I could, it was a bit short to work with – and painted the whole thing with grey acrylic paint.

Once the acrylic dried, I gave the doll a generous coat of granite spray. Then I decided that it needed a diaper, so I made one from scraps, sewed it right on, and had to spray THAT!

The finished baby. We named her “Damiana”, after one of my MasterChef buddies – Professional Wrestler, Damian Legion.

So, that was it! It took a LOOOONG time, and we probably breathed in way more fumes than is at ALL healthy, but I think the final product was worth it all!

Here are some great photos taken at Britcon, all courtesy of Ben Huset:





Oh, and if you’re in the market for an awesome costume, but not willing/able to put the work in? I’m officially available for hire. Click here to go to my new costuming website! (Note: I’ll make anything, doesn’t have to be spandex!)

“Game Day” Fruity Glazed Popcorn Recipe

Glazed popcorn was the first recipe I ever had published, back when I was in grade 5 (Classroom cook book)! I used to make this for bake sales in my front yard, as gifts, and whatever. I guess it was only appropriate that glazed popcorn was also the first recipe I posted on this blog, way back in September 2008!

While a single batch of this popcorn is a ton of fun – and super tasty – on its own, doubling the batch while using 2 different colors? Awesome.

For this batch, I used grape and lemon Jello flavors – to replicate “Minnesota Vikings” colors! While the lemon was vibrant enough on its own, I find that the darker colors need a little more “oomph”. I highly recommend adding a few drops of gel food coloring. To achieve this depth of color, I used a few drops of Americolor’s “Regal Purple”. Perfect!

Between the flavors / colors of Jello available, & the huge variety of gel food colors available, you can totally customize the flavors and colors to match any sports team out there.

Not so into sports? Consider using your wedding colors for bridal shower favors … or light colors for baby showers! Orange popcorn can be combined with ANY flavor – dyed black – for Halloween popcorn, and festive holiday popcorn could be made with cherry and lime Jello! The possibilities are endless!

This is an insanely easy recipe to make, and only takes about 10 minutes per flavor.

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Real Wedding Inspiration – Halloween Wedding

Now that it’s mid October, Twitter and the wedding blogs are lighting up with mentions of Halloween weddings. I’d like to take this opportunity to share my favorite Halloween wedding with you.

Now, it’s no secret that I’m being extremely selective about the projects I take on, and the people I’ll work with. Life’s just too short, you know? Aside from that, Halloween is the hardest weekend to get a booking with us, as we’re always booked to do an event in Chicago that weekend – they book us a year in advance. Ansley’s initial email to me was such a stand out, I couldn’t help but be intrigued – and bend over backward to make it work for her! Let me share:

Good afternoon,

My name is Ansley — I am getting married on October 30th of this year. After scouring the internet in the daunting task of researching wedding cakes, I fell in love with what you do. Everything else I’ve seen looks mundane and unimpressive in comparison to what I’ve viewed on your site. We are an “alternative” couple (I’ll swallow my pride a minute and admit that’s a somewhat politically correct way of calling us “goths”) and have concerns about how that effects our relations with vendors. Everyone we work with seems to assume that our Halloween wedding means skulls, plastic bats and ghosts.

Not so– we are classy and elegant, not campy. What I’ve seen on your website surely demonstrates not only your talent but that you understand that even “odd” is still art. I’d love to set up some sort of consultation with you, though I’m not sure how it is done as I’m new to this whole wedding thing and all of the chaos it entails!

Thank you for your time,

Ansley

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done. Polite, coherent, complimentary, eloquent, AND expressing a desire for something different? I was in love with this wedding – and clients! – before I met them!

The wedding was to be “Simple, elegant and most importantly, black”, taking the bulk of its visual inspiration from the Nine Inch Nails music video for “The Perfect Drug”. The wedding and reception were held at the The James J. Hill Reference Library in Downtown Saint Paul… an absolutely gorgeous, unique venue.

If this is starting to sound familiar at all, you may have seen our blog entry about the cake she ordered, “Glam Goth Wedding Cake“. If you haven’t – or want a refresher – be sure to click that link to view her cake photos!


James J. Hill reference Library, during setup.

Anyway, long story short, we juggled to make the logistics work out, and Ansley was a dream to work with. Absolutely one of my favorite brides ever! The cake was delivered, and I anxiously awaited photos of the event. I swear, nothing could have prepared me for the finished product! Ansley looked absolutely amazing in gorgeous black and blue gown, the black candelabra were a perfect compliment to the super high ceilings in the library… sigh. Must have been the perfect wedding to attend! Let me share the photos, courtesy of the bride, groom, their guests, and photographer – M. Doucet:

As always.. I LOVE when brides go their own way with their weddings. This was just amazing, and I’m sure her guests will be talking about the experience for years to come! Also, I’m sure her vendors will be, as well! Love it!

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How to make Candy Apples

Candy Apples are a fun activity for the family, are cheap and easy to make, inspire nostalgia, and are a tasty way to use some of the bountiful apples this season. What’s not to love?

Well.. aside from sugar burns, anyway. While this is an easy recipe, I recommend keeping little hands away from the cooking sugar, and ideally away from the dipping process as well. Kids can have just as much fun picking out the apples, the flavors, etc… without the risk!

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Decorated Sugar Cookies

Well, Halloween is just around the corner, so now’s a great time to post our recipe for decorated sugar cookies!

These are great to serve guests at your halloween party, or as a weekend activity for kids, or even to hand out to your favorite Treat or Treaters. Very easy to make, and can be a lot of fun!

Cookie Ingredients

2 cups butter, softened
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
4 egg yolks – Reserve egg whites for icing!
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract*
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 cups all purpose flour

Icing Ingredients

4 egg whites
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4-6 cups powdered/confectioner’s sugar

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add in eggs and egg whites, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla extract, and mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Mix remaining 3 ingredients together, carefully stir into wet ingredients until fully incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, grease cookie sheets.

On a floured counter, roll cookie dough out to about 1/4″ thick (can be up to 1/2″ thick if you prefer a thicker cookie). Use cookie cutters to cut out whatever shapes you’d like, place cookies 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms look lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving. Cookies need to cool completely before decorating.

In clean stand mixer, whip egg whites until foamy. Add lemon juice, whip for another minute. Slowly add powdered sugar until cookie icing reaches desired consistency. You will want a thicker frosting for piping details and borders. If you’re wanting to “flow” the icing within piped borders, icing can be thinned with a little lemon juice or water.

* 2 tsp Anise extract can be substituted for a fun variation. I especially like using anise (black licorice flavor) for doing cookies that will be shaped/decorated like black cats or bats.