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Hand Painted Tattoo Cake by Juliet Sear

Monday 3rd February 2014

Love is often the artist’s muse, and when it comes to professional cake decorating, Valentine’s Day provides the perfect excuse to let the creative juices flow. Juliet Sear, owner of Leigh-on-Sea based Fancy Nancy Cakes and cake baker and decorator to the stars, has turned her hand to painted cakes, one of the big predicted trends for 2014 from our Big Trends Survey.

Divine Inspiration

Love Tattoo PR 2

Taking inspiration from the classic hearts and rose motifs, Juliet gave the cake an edgy twist by incorporating it into a love heart tattoo design, appealing to the up and coming generations of cake bakers and decorators looking to inject a little cool quirkiness into their creations. It’s a new take on a cake originally created for Catherine Westwood, one time Editor at Wedding magazine, so would make a great alternative for a couple’s big day or engagement celebration too.

Juliet suggests including scrolls to incorporate the love bird’s names, should you decide to create your own, or simple messages of love – like the Truly Madly Deeply message made use of in Juliet’s creation – making for a beautiful gesture beyond the usual box of chocolates or bunch of flowers.


How to make your own Painted Love Tattoo Cake

Love Tattoo Heart Crop 3

Here are Juliet’s hints and tips and step by step instructions on how to create your own Painted Love Tattoo Cake. The painting part can take a couple of hours, depending on how detailed your design is, so make sure you set aside plenty of time.

1. Before you start, make sure that you have a really well covered cake surface on which to paint. With painted cakes, you really need to make sure that the surface of your cakes is smooth and level or it will spoil the look of your painting.

2. Double cover your cake, first with a layer of marzipan. Allow this to dry so the marzipan is set, then cover with a thick coat of sugar paste, (approximately 5-6mm in thickness). Be sure to use cake smoothers to achieve a really clean finish. Leave the sugar paste to dry overnight, (ideally 24 hours) so that the sugar paste has skinned over.

That way, if you make a mistake it will be much easier to rectify. If you try and paint on a freshly covered cake, firstly you may get indentations when you mark out your design or from your paint brush, but also if you are using a dark colour it will be more difficult to remove any dark marks.

3. If you’re a confident painter, freehand paint your design. If not, draw or print off your chosen design before tracing on to greaseproof paper. Place the greaseproof paper on the cake, making sure the design is central, before punching small holes with a scriber needle along the edges of your design to mark out the main lines and edges.

If you’re not confident of painting out using markers, you can print out your design on edible paper and transfer it to the cake. Using a faded version will allow you to paint over the existing design to add depth and embellish, building up confidence with time. 

4. Keep your design close to hand, and prepare your painting materials. Using cocoa butter and colour dusts achieves a deep colour oil painting effect. Place a plate (to be used as your paint palette) over a bowl of hot water, and a small bowl of melted cocoa butter over a mug of hot water, to make sure the cocoa butter remains smooth and easy to mix and work with whilst painting. (If the cocoa butter sets, simply refresh the hot water). 

For hand painting, you can also use colour dusts mixed with rejuvenator spirit, or even a little vodka. (Rejuvenator spirit is preferable due to the higher alcohol content, enabling the paint to dry out more quickly). Colour paste also works well. 

5. Keep the colour dusts you wish to use close to hand, using a small pinch at a time (ideally using the tip of a sharp knife) and mix the colour dust with a few drops of cocoa butter, mixing each colour separately. Use a separate paint brush to mix and paint each colour, using a number 0 or 1 sized paint brush for lines and a number 3 paintbrush for painted areas. 

The higher the colour dust to cocoa butter ratio, the thicker the paint.

6. Mark out your pattern using a tiny amount of black colour dust mixed with cocoa butter to create a pale grey colour. If recreating Juliet’s heart tattoo cake, paint the heart, scrolls, rose petals and leaves to indicate where you need to fill with colour, adding major detail lines in too.

7. Colour in the different marked out areas, building up several layers of colour with drying time in between to allow the paint to set. The initial layers will look quite washy, but the more layers you paint, the greater depth you achieve with the design. Paint the banners in block colours of white, the roses and heart in red and the leaves in green. 

Make sure to allow the individual layers to set between painting, especially if you’re introducing a new colour to an area. If two colours are introduced when still wet, they will mix and create a new colour. Don’t be afraid to paint over the grey lines marked out to indicate the edges and detail – they will still show through – and use these at a later stage to add more definition and shading to the design. 

8. To build up detail, change shades of colours or introduce new layers between the different layers to achieve a realistic effect with your design. Create a deeper colour red in sections of the heart using a thicker red paste – which creates a pastey, oil painted effect – and black shading too to create a distressed look.

9. On the banner, use small flecks of black dust to make the banner look aged. The roses can be built up through layers of shaded red paint to create a dappled effect, before outlining the edges and creases with black paint again to create definition. Yellow paint can also be used on the tips of the rose to affect light. Use a darker green at the edge of the leaves and a lighter green, with hints of yellow to the centre.

10. To create shadow across the painting, create a mixture of red, blue and black dust with cocoa butter and introduce shadow wherever the painting needs depth around the banner, heart, roses and leaves. To create light, add patches of white paint, cross hatching your brush strokes to achieve the effect.

11. Once you are happy with the design, and it has completely dried. You can add the written inscription. Again, if you’re comfortable free handing, go ahead, but if not, create a light grey black paint to mark out the words in a font of your choosing. Once the words are marked out, use a fine number 1 brush heavily covered with thick black paint to trace over and create your script. 

If you do make a mistake don’t panic. As long as the white is set on the banner, you can take a clean paint brush with clear cocoa butter on it, and using the cocoa butter, rub over the grey paint you want to take off, and use a piece of kitchen towel to wipe it away. 

Love Tattoo Rose Crop 2

12. Finish your cake with a ribbon of your choice and a few hand modelled sugar paste red roses and plunge cutter created green leaves placed on the cake board. What would your love themed tattoo cake look like? Would you include a traditional hearts and flowers motif? How about a classic cupid, or a something a little more edgy?