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Homemade Cake Toppers

Martha Stewart Living Television

The first wedding cakes, baked by the Romans, were plain, simple, and closer to bread than the sweet cakes we eat today. Tradition also dictated that these cakes be crumbled over the bride's head and the crumbs gathered by the guests as tokens of good fortune. Today, of course, wedding cakes are elaborate centerpieces with the bearing of artworks. No single detail concerning the cake is too small to overlook, especially the decorations on top. Many couples choose to crown the cake with the traditional miniature bride and groom, but there are a few other alternatives that you can not only explore to great effect, but also create at home.

Dove Cake Topper

Tools and Materials
Styrofoam birdbath
Foam glue
2 hanks white seed beads
1 hank alabaster seed beads
6 stems silk lily-of-the-valley
2 branches silk maidenhair fern
2 millinery doves
Hot glue gun

Dove Cake Topper How-to
1. Working from the base, spread foam glue in a 1-inch band around the birdbath. Attach strands of white beads by spiraling them around the birdbath. Continue coiling up sides and onto top until you have a 1/4-inch-wide band on top.

2. Arrange the flowers and ferns into two half-arches; insert stems into Styrofoam, and secure with hot glue. Use alabaster beads to fill in the top of the birdbath, spiraling to center. Hot-glue the doves in place.

Horseshoe Cake Topper

Tools and Materials
4-inch-long oval box lid
Ivory velveteen
Craft glue
1/2-inch-wide velvet ribbon
3/8-inch-thick Styrofoam cut to fit inside lid
Utility knife
2 eighteen-inch lengths of 18-gauge paper-covered wire
Short length of 22-gauge wire
Hot-glue gun
White floral tape
Sheath of phalaris
1 1/16-inch-wide silk ribbon

Horseshoe Cake Topper How-To
1. To make the base, cut velveteen oval 1 1/4 inches larger than the lid on all sides; hot glue to top of lid. Cut slits in fabric, and glue to side of lid, wrapping it around to inside. Wrap velvet ribbon around rim to cover slits, and secure ends with craft glue.

2. For the wreath form, first draw a horseshoe shape on paper (about 6 inches tall and 5 inches at widest point); mark center bottom. Hold 18-gauge wires together; curve top halves along one half of the horseshoe drawing; at the bottom, bend wires straight down, like a lollipop stick. Roughly 3/4 inch down from that, bend wires toward outside of horseshoe at a right angle, then bend wires down again at a right angle 3/4 inch farther on. Flip one wire to make a mirror image, and match up the short vertical sections. Wrap 22-gauge wire around the short vertical sections, binding the two pieces together tightly; coat wire binding with hot glue.

3. To cover the wreath, wrap horseshoe with white floral tape. Beginning at the top of one side, attach phalaris, overlapping slightly and winding tape continuously around stems and wire. As you approach the bottom, use smaller pieces of phalaris to enhance tapering of curve. Repeat for the other side. Measure distance between prongs at bottom of horseshoe (roughly 1 1/2 inches). Mark two points this distance apart in center of long axis of box lid; from top, use awl to poke a hole at each point. Push wire prongs through holes; bend outwards at right angles so wires run along underside of lid. Trim so the end of each wire presses against edge of lid. Hot-glue Styrofoam oval to underside of lid. Adjust horseshoe shape until symmetrical. Mark two 9-inch lengths of silk ribbon; embroider bride's first initial near top of one and groom's initial on the other; cut at marks and notch bottoms. Cut a 13-inch length of the ribbon and make a bow, then trim ends close. With thin wire, attach each ribbon tail to bottom of horseshoe; secure with hot glue. Hot-glue bow in place.

Quilled Cake Topper

This topper uses quilling, an old-fashioned craft in which thin strips of paper are coaxed into holding curlicue shapes. The techniques used to make the decorations and bells are rather simple. It's the accumulation of varied shapes that's so spectacular. Quilling is done with quilling paper, precut strips usually 24 inches long, sold in sheaves of 20 or 50. Here, we give directions for constructing the wreath form and base and making the bells. There are many books on the art of quilling that you can consult to learn how to make smaller decorations to cover the wreath. Before you make the wreath form or the bells, make the pieces that will adorn the wreath: We used 25 to 30 fringed flowers, 3 large daisies, 7 small daisies, 4 stems of lily-of-the-valley, 10 leaves, 3 thin spiral pairs, 5 knots and curls, and 3 hearts. To plan how the pieces you make will cover your wreath, draw your wreath shape on paper; you will need to cover your shape twice -- front and back. Store the finished shapes flat in a covered container away from excess humidity.

Tools and Materials
18-inch long piece of 18-gauge paper-covered wire
1 sheaf 1/4-inch-wide white quilling paper
Craft glue in a bottle with a fine metal tip
3 1/4-inch diameter round paper box bottom
Light-pink paper
Styrofoam round cut to fit inside box
Hot-glue gun
Slotted quilling tool
Two 5-inch pieces of 22-gauge wire
Small paint brush
1/4-inch wide ivory quilling paper
1/8-inch-wide peach quilling paper
1/8-inch-wide medium-pink quilling paper
Eight 1 1/2-inch-tall peach quilled feathers

Quilled Cake Topper How-To

1. To make the wreath form, first draw the shape of your wreath on paper (we used a 4-3/4-inch diameter circle), and mark the center at top and bottom. Bend the paper-wrapped wire along the drawing, placing center of wire at top center of circle and leaving a 1/8-inch opening at bottom center; at bottom of wreath, bend ends of wire to form prongs extending straight down from circle. Wrap wire with white quilling paper, securing with craft glue and leaving prongs uncovered. To make the base, first turn box so flat side is up. Cut a circle of light pink paper to cover the flat top of the base, and attach with craft glue. With awl, poke two holes 1/8-inch apart in the center of the box. Glue Styrofoam round inside the base and let dry. Coat prongs of wreath form with glue and insert through holes into Styrofoam. Let dry thoroughly.

2. To make each bell, slip one end of a strip of 1/4-inch-wide white quilling paper into the slotted quilling tool, and spin tool to coil paper into a solid disc; glue end in place and remove quilling tool. Add a new strip of quilling paper, gluing to secure. Continue winding paper around and around, and start gently pulling the layers of paper down, forming a bell shape. Brush craft glue inside the bell as you go, and keep adding strips, wrapping, and shaping until bell is complete. Ours is 2 inches tall and 1 3/4 inches across. Once the bell is completely dry, insert one piece of the 18-gauge wire through the top, and curl the end inside the bell into a knot; hot-glue the knot to inside of bell. To make the clapper, twist a piece of 1/4-inch-wide ivory quilling paper into a straw 2 inches long, applying glue to secure. With peach quilling paper and quilling tool, make a small disc, and glue the end to secure; shape into a slight bell and glue to end of clapper. Hot glue clapper into top of bell.

3. To cover the wreath and base, use tweezers and hot glue to attach premade quilling shapes to the front and back of the form, leaving room at the top to attach the bells and reserving a few quilling shapes to cover that space later. Wrap wire from each bell around form so bells are hanging down about 1 inch; cut off excess wire, and reinforce with a dab of hot glue. Adjust wires so bells look as if they're ringing. Glue on reserved flowers to finish wreath. To cover wires, cut out 40 tiny flat paper leaves, and glue, overlapping, to wires on both sides, using tweezers to position. Cut strip of light-pink paper to fit around side of base. Lay paper flat; glue strip of medium pink quilling paper to the top and bottom edges. Carefully glue on peach curclicued feathers. When completely dry, glue paper around the side of the base.


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