This cake has my heart. It is …and may always be …the coolest cake I ever decorate. I honestly do not know how I can ever top it. I decorated this large 4 tier cake for the Sugar Art competition at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot Idaho. It was the first time I have ever entered a cake competition of any kind. I decorated it for the “Special Occasion” Category where the theme was “Pick A Decade”. I actually chose 4 decades …one for each tier of the cake, and I titled my cake In God We Trust. It was the most AMAZING day ever at the fair. My cake not only won a First Place Blue Ribbon in it’s category …but it also took Grand Champion in it’s category (a purple ribbon, a trophy and $100). And you won’t believe this …it won Best of Show!!!! Over the entire Eastern Idaho Sugar Art Show (a REALLY large trophy, a gorgeous ribbon and $1,000 check) …I am still floating. Here is what I wrote about the images and reliefs I chose to hand paint and sculpt on my cake and an explanation of sorts on why this cake will forever have my heart:
I am writing this because I wish to share the thoughts & ideas I had while researching/decorating and designing my cake for the Eastern Idaho State Fair. The theme for the Special Occasion Cake category this year is “Pick a Decade”. When I had first heard this theme my mind immediately began to think in terms of US History…one of my favorite subjects. As we have often heard quoted “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. History…especially studying the history of our country has always fascinated me. I have been touched by the events in our countries history …and how I see the hand of God working in those events. Also this being an election year my thoughts have been drawn even more to our country and what the future holds for the United States.
This all being said…I immediately set about to pick decades…. incremental ten year periods in the history of our country that I felt represented God’s hand in this nation.
The first period of time I chose was …the beginning…our foundation as a nation…The American Revolution from 1776-1786. I labeled this decade…a decade of Sacrifice …as the men who signed the declaration of Independence were willing to sacrifice everything…even their own lives if necessary ..for the building of this nation. I placed this time period at the bottom tier of the cake. As the foundation of my cake is at the bottom…so is the foundation of our country
The American Revolution is what we have built upon. I chose to highlight…. Continental soldiers …these 2 men represent the farmer, the furniture maker, the blacksmith…those simple, ordinary Americans…. Many of them tradesman…not wealthy …not well educated …but men who believed in freedom. The one soldier stands closest to the flag and bears the original “old glory” with her first 13 stars representing the original 13 colonies on a sea of blue. Then the other soldier fires a gun as he fights for freedom…freedom, unfortunately sometimes only follows war.
Then I created a silhouette of General George Washington. I cannot say even part of the feelings of gratitude I hold for this man. He was a leader. A humble believer in God & in this country. A believer in the ideas & values that were being fought for. Next is Valley Forge. Over three thousand soldiers died during the four-year encampment at Valley Forge. My heart is touched by the many miracles I read of while studying about Valley Forge. One such Miracle was the Shad fish. These fish swam upstream during a non-migration period into shallow water, where soldiers literally were able to go out with clubs and gather enough to eat and then salt them and store them in barrels, so they could survive during the winter without starving.
Next I included Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where both The Declaration of Independence & The Constitution were signed. Independence Hall represents to me God’s hand in forming this nation by bringing together 55 delegates, all men with varying views and ideas, and having them come together to write up a Constitution which 39 signed. Our Constitution is a miracle.
Next I included Benjamin Franklin, not only for his contributions as a founding father but also for his spirit of invention. He personifies to me what a man can accomplish when enlightened by the spirit of God. Beside Benjamin Franklin is a relief of the Liberty Bell. I included it to represent the concept of liberty.
I also included Paul Revere and his famous lanterns in the church steeple. The ride of Paul Revere was the great battle cry to gather & to fight! The idea of a hand full of colonists fighting a dominating force as large as all of England…and winning…is a miracle to me. Great Britain had 8 million residents in 1775, and the 13 colonies about 2.5 million. The odds were not in our favor to say the least. Yet they pulled together and with God’s help won.
Next I included Thomas Jefferson, the writer of The Declaration of Independence. Beside him is his famous home in Charlottesville, Virginia…Monticello. Monticello represents what the colonists were fighting for …home, family, freedom not just for themselves but for their children and generations who would follow.
Then last on the bottom tier is Betsy Ross as she stiches the first American flag. I love our flag. I love what it represents. I love and honor those who have given everything to defend it. May we NEVER forget what our flag stands for …and may we always act appropriately and treat it with respect.
I chose to drape a large American Flag down the entire side of the cake… all four tiers. This was not an easy task, but I wanted to tie together every decade in history that I was portraying with the flag. The flag to me represents from early beginnings to present day what this country stands for… freedom. Be it in the American Revolution or World War 2 …the flag has been there through it all …and remains the symbol of freedom. Be it Olympic games, military bases or baseball games the flag reminds us of our past and should stir our hearts to the present.
I also kept this theme of the US flag being used through-out history as you notice on the bottom tier to the right of the flag is the Continental soldier holding a flag, then to the left Betsy Ross sewing the first flag. Then on the next tier up to the right is the Iwo Jima monument as the soldiers are struggling together to plant the flag. Then to the left is Arlington National Cemetery with the flag flying at ½ mast for all of the lost soldiers. On the next tier up to the right of the draped flag you have the first moon landing and the US flag being placed. Then to the left of the flag you have Martin Luther King Jr and the flag flying beside him as he gives his speech… I have a dream. The flag has always been there …through good and bad. I love Old Glory! Long may she wave!!!
For the second tier of the cake I chose to do the decade of 1935-1945. I labeled this a decade of courage, not only for those who fought in wars and acted in courageous ways, but also for the Jewish people, who as a whole displayed I believe the greatest courage ever shown in the face of danger, torture and death as they looked to God & their faith to carry them through. This decade encompasses Iwo Jima, D-day, World War 2, Nazi concentration camps, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Arlington National Cemetery. I chose this decade as the next tier because there are still veterans who are living today who fought at this time period in our history and I wished to pay tribute to them and their service. Also because there are still holocaust victims that are living as well who I wish to honor for their incredible courage & perseverance. There are so many brave Americans who rose to the challenge to protect and fight for freedom, who chose to continue on in these times of war when all looked lost. They did not give up.
The Star of David patch that the Jews were forced to wear on their clothing is placed there to remind us of the nearly nine million lives that were lost during the holocaust. This tier reminds me that we need God …at all times we need Him …especially in times of war. People then begin to realize how very much they need Him as they contemplate that they may be meeting Him soon. I know my belief in God sustains me and pulls me through the trials and hard times in my life. I do not know where I would be without my faith.
The next tier up I chose to do the Civil Rights movement 1960-1970. I had contemplated doing the Civil War because I have a deep love & appreciation for Abraham Lincoln and the great leader he was. He held our nation together when brother fought against brother at a dark period in our history. He was an amazing man. However, as I thought about this my mind went to present day where we still seem to continue the battle of brother against brother. The battle I speak of is the battle of racism. We see so much in the media of hate based on skin color. This breaks my heart. As we are all of God’s children …this battle continues to be brother against brother. This subject touches my heart deeply. Having been raised in the south …born in North Carolina and living in the same small home town until I was 18 and went away to college. I love my friends who I made while in elementary school clear through High School. I never questioned that my friends who were black were any different than my friends who were white…. They were simply my friends. Each with amazing talents and gifts. Kind hearts, loving, dependable and there for me when I needed them. I looked at them for what they were not the color of skin they had. I honor and respect deeply Dr. Martin Luther King and how he wore away his life in the service and cause of equality. I love he taught people to see each other for the character they process and not their skin color…and he always taught peace was the way to bring about change. Peaceful protest and love. When I think of Dr. King …love is the first word that comes to mind. I labeled this tier a decade of Freedom. I know that some may not agree with that label and would state that during that decade people of color in America were not free. But I labeled it decade of freedom …because this is the decade when people…single individuals broke out of the boxes they had been placed in for years….and they became free…by saying, “No more! No more will I ride on the back of a bus, no more will I drink from a separate water fountain, no more will I accept an inferior educational opportunity, no more will I be judged by the color of my skin! They…the handful of African Americans that stood up for what was right …one by one …in separate…but related situations…they broke free. This is tier is labeled decade of freedom in honor of their courage, their sacrifice and their stand ….on liberty & justice for ALL.
Included on this tier is the Apollo Moon landing where men broke free from the Earth’s atmosphere and from inhibiting ideas of the past of what could and could not be accomplished. Then is President John F. Kennedy who was a great supporter of the civil rights movement and freedom to all.
Then beside him is the famous 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell entitled “The Problem We All Live With.” According to Wikipedia this painting is “considered an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. It depicts Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African-American girl, on her way to William Frantz Elementary School, an all-white public school, on November 14, 1960, during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. Because of threats and violence against her, she is escorted by four deputy U.S. marshals; the painting is framed such that the marshals’ heads are cropped at the shoulders. On the wall behind her is written the racial slurs (which I did not include because honestly …they make me cry & offend me); a smashed and splattered tomato thrown against the wall is also visible. The white protesters are not visible, as the viewer is looking at the scene from their point of view.” This painting moves me to tears when I think of people threatening this beautiful daughter of God …because of her skin color. Ruby Bridges was not only amazingly courageous in what she did …but she did it as a small child. I look at this and my mind goes to the Bible… and a little child shall lead them. I pray that we will not forget how far we have come as a nation in “justice for all” …and that we will continue to rise upward in fostering brotherly love and judging others from the character of their hearts …not their skin color… and teach our children to lead out in doing the same …because they are the future of our country …they are the ones who will grow up to make changes in the areas still in need of improvement.
And then beside Norman Rockwell’s painting is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in large silhouette and as he gives his speech at the Lincoln monument. I have a dream. I have a dream also Dr. King …that people will learn from the past and do their part to improve the future.
The top tier of the cake is the decade 2016-2026. I left this tier completely white to signify that the future has not been written yet. But, the future is what we make it. As I began decorating this cake, I have to admit, I was a little reluctant and had a bad attitude as I contemplated our country and its present state of affairs. We hear so many negative things about America. We hear so many negative things about our leaders. Especially as this is an election year, we hear daily complaints about the choices we have to vote for President. In decorating this cake I shed many tears as my heart was turned to gratitude for this country, for the sacrifices made to establish it, for the courage of men and women to ensure its continuation, and for the good people that still fight for it today. I began to realize how much I have to be grateful for. That I live in the United States of America. And that even if I question my choices this year in voting for a President, I need to recognize that I still get to choose even if I feel that my choices are not the greatest, I still get to make a choice because I live in this country. I hope this cake will make people stop and think and remember and be grateful for what we have, and want to recommit to remember the past and improve the future.