I recently had a birthday. The best part of a birthday in our family is that my sister, Tshomin bakes a cake and then she or her artist boyfriend ( MadHatter) paints the cake. Yes you read that right, they paint the cake! They use an ordinary paint brush and food coloring to produce the most personalized and beautiful cakes.
For example below is the birthday cheese cake Tshomin made for me last week, decorated with a lady bird and a plastic panda -- both family nicknames for me.
The inspiration for making these painted cakes comes from Cake and Empire a blog by a grad school friend of mine who is a talented cake maker as well as an archaeologist. The blog is a wonderful archive of some of the most creative and ambitious cakes she has made. Amazingly enough her cakes almost always taste as good as they look!
Above is my all time favorite painted cake baked by Tshomin and painted by MadHatter right before I left for my dissertation fieldwork. It depicts me as the Fool in my deck of tarot cards. So let me tell you about the Fool card . The Fool is off on a journey, she has her little pack on her back and she has her head up to the sun in anticipation of adventure. There is a naivete and vulnerable openness that is going to allow her to learn from her experiences. See how she is so busy looking up towards the open sky that she doesn't see the cliff? That both a caution ( watch where you are going fool!) but also an encouragement to take that leap into the unknown. Its hard to imagine a more apt card for the start of fieldwork--- this leap into the unknown, the decision to make yourself vulnerable in order to learn. A sweet reminder to stay open to all the possibilities (and exciting risks) that the fieldwork offered.