We asked Jennifer Frey, cake designer and sugar artist behind “Tiers in Heaven,” to join our ACD Café sugar installation at SoFlo 2019 in Miami, and lucky for us and those who came to the show, she said yes! Jennifer’s outstanding contribution was Gia, the standing mannequin who wowed the ACD team and the crowds so much that we had to ask Jennifer, how did you make that?
American Cake Decorating: What did you think when you heard the booth installation theme of “Parisian-themed café,” and how did you start on the project?
Jennifer Frey: When I saw the inspiration pictures, I knew this was MY theme. Anyone who knows my style at heart knows how much I love the vintage, romantic, elegant, shabby chic feel of decorating. The mannequin—aﬀectionately named Gia as I was working on her—fell right into that category. I could not have been more excited! Immediately I started dreaming of ideas, creating Pinterest boards, screenshots of French corsets, romantic dresses, and vintage-style undergarments.
ACD: What products did you primarily use for the piece?
JF: I hadn’t worked with Icing Images Flexfrost Edible Fabric Sheets before, but I have seen them at several trade shows and knew they had to be part of the design. I also received gum paste, fondant, and ChocoPan from our sponsor Satin Ice. I use Satin Ice as my preferred fondant regularly, so I was happy to be working with it for this piece. Roxy & Rich dust colors and pearls really brought the piece to life.
ACD: How did the piece evolve?
JF: I started oﬀ by covering the top part of her chest, back, and neck (the parts under the torn wafer paper) with modeling chocolate and smoothing. The rest of her body was covered in a base of Satin Ice Gum Paste and allowed to dry. I created the ruﬄe center in her corset with rose-gold Flexfrost Edible Fabric Sheets by cutting them into strips and bunching them together. I applied them to the gum-paste base with Icing Images Paper Potion spray as a glue. The corset sides and back were created by making a template of her torso with paper and then cutting panels out of tinted gum paste. Once applied to the mannequin, an embossing tool was used to randomly apply a vintage lace impression to the panels. I went back over the impressions with gold paint on a stiﬀ brush to create a vintage, worn look.
ACD: The ruffle skirt really looked like fabric! How was that achieved?
JF: For the skirt, I worked from the bottom layers up. The long white panels were first applied by folding them in a fan pattern and attaching them to the base of the Satin Ice on the mannequin using Paper Potion spray and toothpicks until it dried. Then the picks were removed. The edges of each sheet were all folded in first and sealed with Paper Potion to create a sewn-fabric look. The same process was repeated for the rose-gold sheets. We used the back side on the bottom layer for a contrasting color. It provided an almost silver color that added just enough of a diﬀerent touch to it. For the fabric “pillows,” these were also created using the fabric sheets by Icing Images. I maneuvered them in a way to make the seams come together on the back and sealed them with Paper Potion, working with my fingers to keep them open like pillows. I would attach these in the same way to the mannequin with the Paper Potion spray and toothpicks until dry. The remaining layers of the skirt were all made of Satin Ice Fondant. I rolled tips of fondant about four inches in height and used the same impression tool that I had used on the corset. I overlapped these all the way around and all the way up to the waist of the corset. The same gold antiquing was used on these layers as was on the corset.
ACD: What finishing touches did you do to complete Gia?
JF: The breastplates were adorned with lace appliqués, flowers, and handmade ruﬄes with gold centers. Gold antiquing was done on all these pieces as well. A small piece of lace was placed to join the two together. Lace was also used around the waistband, at the break of the Satin Ice ruﬄes and Flexfrost ruﬄes, and the opening at the bottom. The lace was a combination of using the Flexfrost Sheets in lace molds as well as using cake lace. The jewelry was made using a combination of Satin Ice and DECOgel from Icing Images. This was my first time using DECOgel and it was great! The copper heart and some of the pearls all come from DECOgel. Her chest, back, and neck were covered in torn wafer paper from Icing Images. Each piece was torn and then dusted with Roxy & Rich color dust in a mixture of pink and brown to create a vintage look. The pieces were applied to the molding chocolate base using Paper Potion, then gold was painted randomly onto select pieces to blend into the rest of the antiqued look. A few gum paste accent flowers were added to her midsection and it was time to pack up and head to Florida!
ACD: We heard it was quite a challenge to get Gia to Florida. How did you travel to SoFlo?
JF: I decided it was best to drive my labor of love to Florida. We traveled 14 hours, with Gia occupying the best seat in the van. She traveled wonderfully and I was so incredibly honored to be asked by American Cake Decorating magazine to participate!
We hope you enjoyed our “behind-the-scenes” look at what it takes to create life-size pieces of sugar art. We thank Jennifer for taking the time to chat with us and providing an exclusive look at her piece! If you like Jennifer’s cake style as much as we do, check out her pages here: