Thank you Penny Stamps

It was a big weekend for the University of Michigan.  In case you haven’t heard, the basketball team played in the NCAA  Division 1 Final Four and National Championship for the first time in twenty years.   Perhaps with less national pomp and circumstance, but no less worthy, is the celebration of  the re-naming of the School of Art & Design to Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

Penny Stamps and her husband E. Roe Stamps have been instrumental in positioning the school to become a national leader in art and design education.  Their generosity is particularly poignant to our own Heather Leavitt, Sweet Heather Anne‘s owner and head decorator. Heather not only is a graduate of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, she also was a Stamps Scholar.  Much thanks to the leadership and generosity of Penny Stamps, Heather’s time at the University of Michigan sculpted who she is as an artist today, laying the foundation for Sweet Heather Anne‘s signature artistry.

In celebration of the re-naming  Heather created a cake (and accompanying cookies and macarons) to commemorate Penny Stamp’s enormous impact on the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

Sweet Heather Anne. Corporate Cakes“Creating this cake was such an honor.  When I was in art school, my thesis involved creating cakes as edible monuments to local farmers and food producers.  Now that I am a local food producer, it was amazing to have the opportunity to create an edible monument to Penny Stamps and the art school.  I feel like I’ve really come full circle.  It was awesome to see all of my Professors, and celebrate Penny, and everything she has done for the school and the arts. ” -Heather

Penny W. Stamps.School of Art & Design. University of MichiganPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & Design. University of MichiganPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & Design. University of MichiganPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & DesignPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & Design

Many thank to Abby Rose Photo for the gorgeous images above.

Cake, Art, Univeristy of Michigan, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design

Edible Monument to Tantre Farm, part of Heather’s thesis project at the Stamps School of Art and Design in 2007.

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Sweet!

As a warning, there are studio nudes in this post. While they are quite different from other types of nudes, this post may not be safe for work.

Besides working my booty off with Heather at the studio, I also work in the evenings slinging drinks at the Old Town Tavern in Ann Arbor. While my mother may worry about me, this non-traditional work schedule affords me the flexibility to do really cool things like take college painting courses on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. (I got an A on my first oil painting ever, thank you, thank you) For Painting I this semester have this super cool professor (Maybe I’m sucking up, but the semester’s not over, after all), and he recommended I check out the work of Will Cotton. The stuff is so cool that I have to share it with you all. I chose a few examples that were especially cake related.

I have to say, as a student of traditional piping techniques, and I almost shed a tear when I saw his sculptures. I had a harder time lifting those images from his website, so you need to go there to see them. It will be totally worth it.

The next woman is wearing a croquembouche hat. For those of you not familiar, it’s a (ridiculously fabulous) French wedding pastry tower. Yes, rather than wedding cakes, the French choose to construct giant towers of puff pastry, chocolate, caramel, macarons, spun sugar, almonds, ribbon, or whatever else they choose. In that light, it’s not a huge leap to put the thing on a beautiful woman’s head. I understand, Will Cotton, I understand.

While I’m on the fine art tilt, I’d like to give a shout out to one of our favorite (cake) artists, Kate Sullivan of Cake Power. Last summer, she created this beautiful cake installation to mimic Wayne Thiebaud’s iconic Cakes. We love her.

Food Imitating Art

Besides being a great teacher, I recently found out my professor makes really cool art. Through November 26, you can see his paintings in the U of M Residential College gallery. It’s totally free (date night?). While the intensity of the pieces may not totally translate on the computer screen, because 1) many were constructed from computer-generated images in the first place and 2) they are really big, here are a couple of examples anyway. I took them from his blog.

A Nightmare Before Christmas (Birthday)

Thank you to Erin Werner of Erin Werner Photography: She sent us these lovely pictures, and she is also Gabby (the birthday girls)’s mom!  When Erin contacted us about this order, we were so excited.  As a child Heather dreamed of working as a sculptor for Pixar, because of movies like this one!

Each of these characters was a labor of love.  This cake was small, but Heather and I each spent a whole day sculpting!  Heather excels at making organic shapes… she made Oogie Boogie, Zero, and Jack and Sally’s faces!

There is a finite amount of time that we are able to work on each cake.  We don’t like to work on a surface of the cake more than a day before they go to the client, so all of the decorating takes place in that time.  Some of the details could be made ahead of time, as the pure sugar sculptures have an indefinite shelf life, but we don’t realistically have free time like that.  Plus, it’s nice to have some freedom to change things in the moment of cake creation.

Gabby arrived at the studio looking cute as a button, toting her Jack and Sally dolls, and immediately our hard work was totally worth it.  She didn’t know she was going to be on the cake with Jack and Sally, and all she could do was smile!  Thank you again to her mom, Erin, for the super fun order and for taking these beautiful pictures.