September Sneak Peek: Quick Fire Questions with Dina Cimarusti

Our September Issue is just around the corner and the excitement over at ACD is palpable! We cannot wait to share our incredible line-up of contributors with you – but to give you a tiny taste of what’s to come, we teamed up with Showcase contributor Dina Cimarusti of Dina Cimarusti Art to talk about the unique Cirque du Soleil theme and her love of SFX.

Hi Dina, Thanks for joining us, can you tell me, how did you get involved in the Cirque du Soleil collaboration?
I am so thrilled to be talking with you, I believe it was Avalon (Avalon Yarnes) who recommended for for the group. I think she saw the previous Cirque inspired cake I had made and thought I would love to be a part of this collaboration! The last Cirque cake I made was for the cast I had the great honor of making a cake for them when the show was in town, and when I actually saw the show I almost fainted from pure joy. It was an incredible experience.
The Kurios inspired cake Dina made for the Cirque Cast.

The Kurios inspired cake Dina made for the Cirque Cast.

We love you previous Kurios inspired cake, you captured the theme perfectly. You really seem to love “out-of-the-box” cake design, would you say that you have a particular style or niche?
Absolutely, I definitely feel like I make more Novelty style cakes and I love sculpture. I’m really drawn to organic designs and I especially love to create cakes that look like food, animals, people or MONSTERS!
I love designs that allow me to get creative with the paint job- Airbrushing and painting effects are something that I use a lot in my sculpted designs and I LOVE me some wrinkles! Whether it be a cake or a mask, the more wrinkled the better!
I noticed you have a penchant for the horror genre do people order a lot of these cakes from you, or is this something you like to create time for?
I definitely love creating horror and fantasy themed cakes. Most of the cake orders I get from people are just that! I recently started doing SFX (Special Effects) for a living, so people know that those genres are my specialty. Years ago, before doing SFX, I would go to a Halloween store and find terrifying masks to turn into cakes for the bakery storefront. I think this is actually how I ended up getting interested in SFX!
The Grand High Witch

The Grand High Witch

Well, you truly are a gifted sculptor, Do you have a background in sculpture or is this something that comes naturally?
I actually went to Pastry school and have been working in bakeries for the past 13 years. I took art lessons as a child and in high school, but I actually never touched clay until a few years ago. I’ve been sculpting cakes now for about 10 years, but no formal training in that field! Just lots of practice! Truly it’s about practicing this art form that allows you to improve and studying the subject- trying to recreate the realism.
A couple years ago I took some SFX classes, and that has really improved my sculpting skills. I learned a lot of new techniques that I have been able to apply to my cakes.
Dina 7

Dina in Action – Airbrushing her cake with realistic detail

One of  our particular favorite cakes of yours is this sculpted cake – The Baker- can you tell me a bit more about this guy! How do you achieve such realism?
The Baker! I actually created this for another cake collaboration last year called Sugar Spooks! It was the first collaboration I had ever been invited to join, and the theme couldn’t have been more up my alley!
As a cake designer who’s niche is tiered wedding cakes, the idea of structure bewilders me. I think I break into a mild sweat when I have to carve a cake. How do you determine what techniques to use- is that something you’ve learned through experience? what tips would you give to people who want to experiment with internal structures?
Like I mentioned before, I used a lot of the techniques I have learned in SFX classes. This includes getting realistic skin texture and also the right skin tone. For sculpting, I use a technique where I use a wire dog brush (NEW AND CLEAN of course!) to make all the tiny wrinkles and I also spent hours just adding tiny pores with a veining tool. Next step to great skin is a complementary paint job! I paint my cakes the same way I paint a mask or prosthetic. It’s all about subtle layers of color that make up our skin tone. I probably used about 15 different colors on this guy. I spatter very thinned down colors over the entire sculpt, and airbrush into every wrinkle! Start light and build subtle layers of color. Another way to think about it is to look at the recent trends for contorting makeup. You’re applying a variety of tones and blending them together to create depth and dimension.
The Baker

The Baker

It seems like you’re finding success in establishing yourself in this niche market.
How do you envision yourself and your business growing? Do you think you will move into more non-edible SFX or do you think you’ll continue to work with edible media?
 I am so conflicted with this! I love both so much! Can I just do both forever?? I feel like I’ve established myself as a cake decorator, but at the same time have found great success in doing SFX. Since I’ve been in the food industry for over 15 years, I would like to spend the next year or two doing SFX and see how it goes. I do feel like I will always come back to cake decorating though! It was my first love ?
Are you as excited as we are? To see more from Dina Camarusi and the incredible Cirque du Soleil team subscribe to American Cake Decorating and get our latest Cirque des Gateux issue!

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