Until recently, I worked for an orchestra, and having studied music at university, I am a little wary about overusing musical symbols in decoration. Once upon a time I had a colleague who absolutely hated musical paraphernalia and so it was drilled into me that using musical notation for anything other than music was distasteful. In my opinion there is always place for a musical sticker or treble clef pencil, but, each to their own, I appreciate that for some, it can seem gaudy.
Three years since working with the lady who hated all musically decorated things, I was asked to make a party cake to serve over 50 people for a retirement party for three professional musicians. And while her voice was firmly in my head, I had to do it. I had to go there.
My brief wasn’t too detailed– it had to be a big cake. I knew the retiring trio and set about making a cake that would include their nicknames – Cat, Jan and Koggy. This was the result:
Originally, I wanted to place a sheet of music on an icing music stand in the centre of the cake. I made the music stand but decided it didn’t look quite right so I made the ‘Peters Edition’ style front pages to include their names and instruments. I hand drew all the manuscript using rice paper and edible ink before chopping it up to put around the outside.
I was really happy with the choppy manuscript effect – the front pages of the music were a little messy for my liking but without an icing printer it was the best I could do. Also, in my slightly tired state, I managed to write ‘violin’ for Koggy where she is a viola player. I still kick myself to this day.
A while after making this cake, I volunteered to make another for a charity fundraising evening called Made in Mind. The organisers asked if I could do something piano related and immediately the old music paraphernalia decoration issue popped into my head.
Eventually, I decided to use the same idea for the edge of the cake as I liked it so much the first time. This time I even remembered to take a photo of the edible manuscript before chopping it up:
To finish the cake off I made a keyboard to on the top (a handy colour scheme as I had been making a lot of penguin cakes around the same time…). So there we have it, a few musically inclined cakes, which I hope are tasteful enough not to offend… I’ll have to go back to my old colleague and find out.