Cake Byte: CakeSpy Does Another Bathroom Mural Featuring Anthropomorphic Pastries

Guess what, sweet friends? I've done another mural. And once again, it depicts anthropomorphic sweets. And once again, it's in a bathroom. This time, it's not in Minneapolis, though: it's in Seattle, at the extremely delectable Bluebird Ice Cream.

That's right: CakeSpy, bathroom muralist extraordinaire, has done it again. This time, it's a scene of sweet treats in Capitol Hill, Seattle, which I am calling "Pike Street is Totally Sweet". Want to see some pictures? OK. My apologies as I have been working early mornings when the light isn't so great.

as you walk into the bathroom, this is what you'll see:

That's right...a scene of the entire block that Bluebird is on, between 12th and 13th Avenues on Pike Street...only in my world, it is populated by Capitol Hill Hipster Sweets!

Here are some detail shots:

...and, of course, a sweet star in the stall itself to remind you of something important while you...ah, do your business:

...yes, I know. It pretty much rules.

You can check out the mural for yourself; it's in the bathroom at Bluebird Ice Cream, 1205 E. Pike Street, Seattle; online here.  They will having an official unveiling of the mural at their 2nd birthday party!

Note to other bakeries: interested in your own (bathroom or other room) mural by CakeSpy? I will do it for you. What do I ask in return? You cover my travel, lodging, supplies, and pay me $100 a day (can give estimates on how many days it would take based on the space; the mural featured in this post, if worked on consecutively, would be about a 3-4 day job).

Cake Byte: Sweet New Paintings by Nancy Bea Miller in Philadelphia

Nancy Bea Miller's paintings are totally sweet, but not to eat.

Rendered in oil, they're nonetheless fat free to feast your eyes upon, and she's got a great new collection going up at the Artist's House Gallery in Philadelphia (the city that is also the home of the Pumpple).

If you're in the area, you simply must go to the artist reception tomorrow, May 6, 2011; if not, I am happy to give you a preview of what's on show:

...a beautiful doughnut:

...some not-sweet but still delightfully carby pretzels;


....more cupcakes...

...and yet more cupcakes.

That's right. Best! Show! Ever! Here are the details for the artist reception(s):

Friday, May 6th, 5-8:30 p.m, and then again Sunday, May 8, 1-4 p.m. at Artist's House Gallery, 57 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia; online at The show will remain up until May 29. Visit the artist's blog here.

Sweet Art for Sweethearts: A Valentine's Day Commission for Michelle of Bleeding Heart Bakery, Chicago

So, I am not a celebrity baker. But--I do artwork for celebrity bakers.

It's true. And this Valentine's Day, I had the exquisite pleasure of making life just a little sweeter for the entire family behind Chicago's original purveyor of "punk rock pastry"Bleeding Heart Bakery (mother and father of said family, btw, are the authors of new book Who You Callin' Cupcake: 75 In-Your-Face Recipes that Reinvent the Cupcake). It might have been the sweetest commission I've ever received--one piece each for the entire family.

And--full freedom to create pieces with minimal art direction (booyeah!). Here's exactly what I was given as guidance for each piece, and what I came up with:

Can you make me some things for my family for Valentine's Day? I would like to make a print for each member:

Oliver (newborn, first piece of art for his room, he is named after Jamie Oliver): so for this piece, I created a mother and father-cake with a baby-cake surrounded by "real" food...

Sofi (really likes puppies and kitties): for this piece, I created a sort of Eloise-meets-cupcake-meets puppies and kitties piece, pictured top);

Gabe (all about Dr. Who): for this piece, I made a cupcake Dr. Who surrounded by space-type food items;

Vinny (cake decorator): for this piece, I made a Vinny-lookin' cupcake making a tribute to his sweetheart, Michelle!

...and, as the icing on the cake, a piece portraying the whole crew having a food fight.

Best of all? Michelle, who commissioned the pieces, put full trust in me, so she was just as surprised as the rest of the family when she received them! How sweet is that!?

Have a sweet Valentine's Day, everyone!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Susan Biebuyck, Donut Painter from PA

Believe it or not, I know three notable donut (or is it doughnut?) painters from Pennsylvania. I'm not exaggerating. The first one I became acquainted with was Nancy Bea Miller; the second, Mike Geno (and I actually own one of his originals--so take that!), and now, Susan Biebuyck.

Want to learn more about Susan and her work? Well, you could check out her website (and you should)...but why not also get to know her a little better in interview form, too? Here's the 411:

First off: donut or doughnut? In a sentence doughnut; as a title donut.

Second: cake or yeast? Yeast, top fermenting, thanks.

What is your favorite place to get donuts, and what is your favorite flavor? Dunkin, I'm torn between sugar twist and peanut butter icing on glazed.

Do you prefer to paint donuts with or without holes? Both, it depends on what medium I'm working with.

Do you ever eat the donuts after you paint them? No, but my family constantly asks they can have one. Often my still life sets slowly erode as the painting develops.

What is your artistic background? I've been an artist my whole life. When I was 14 I started working at Hershey Park as a painter. It was a sweet job for a teenager. In the mid-1980s - late 90s doing graphic design and illustration. When I became a mother, I decided to return to fine arts. I attended Kutztown University near my home in Berks County PA.

What medium do you work in, and why? I am an art supply junky. I love to play with materials. At some point in my career I decided to focus on one subject for a period and play with all the different possibilities within that subject. So I have in the past been known as "the pear lady" before I became "the donut artist." Often I exhibit oil paintings, watercolor, pastel and acrylic all in the same show. I also love to make soft sculptures.

Aside from donuts, what are some of your other favored subject matter(s)? Actually, I am a foodie. I love to paint food. I love to cook and have an extensive cook book library. I grew up watching a show called The Galloping Gourmet when I was very small. I used to draw while watching his show. His food and humor were sometimes the subject.

What's the next big thing you're working on and excited about? I've been working on a series of paintings of my daughter and I recently did a self couple of self portraits with donuts. My donuts are currently exhibiting at The GoggleWorks Center for the arts (where I have a studio), at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA, and at the Main Line Art Center in Haverford, PA.

Want more? Visit Susan's site here.

Taking it to the Sweet: Paletas Popsicle Art

As you know, CakeSpy is a big supporter of the idea that sweetness ought to be infused in your life on a daily basis--both literally and figuratively.

And clearly, the couple behind The Paletas (discovered by a sweet spy tip from CS buddy Tom) are my sweet soul-mates: they create popsicle art that they leave around their world, in an effort to give people pause and ideally add a sense of whimsy and joy to their lives (not unlike my fake cupcake project!).

Although they prefer to remain anonymous, one of the creators was kind enough to give me a small mission statement:

We draw and make things all of the time and one day we were at the craft store and saw the little popsicle sticks so we decided to make some small clay pops that we would just glue in random spots. No real reason, just something strange for the passersby. Eventually they evolved into anthropomorphic creatures, I think the one's with faces draw people in a little more, you connect with whatever emotion they have. So now we mostly make plastic pops and stickers. The plastic is so much fun to experiment with, it's kind of expensive but way easier to work with than clay. There is no real reason for doing it other than to make the observer's surroundings a little more interesting and inspire people to wonder. It's something to do, a creative muse to focus our efforts. It's also tons of fun trading art with other artists around the world. 

Why go to all that effort? As one of the Paletas so sweetly put it, "Sometimes a sense of wonder can inspire the imagination of the viewer/finder. "

If that isn't a sweet outlook, I don't know what is, friends.

Check out art that is "cold as ice, twice as nice" on The Paletas tumblr page and on Flickr!

Taking it to the Sweet: Sidewalk Chalk to Make the World a Sweeter Place

Truth? Seattle can be dreary in the winter. Especially after Christmas, when all of the holiday lights come down. Actually, it is this Spy's firm belief that this is a big part of the reason that coffee and pastries have such a big presence in the Emerald city: we have to keep warm and cheerful somehow.

And today, I decided to make my cold-and-rainy commute to CakeSpy Shop a bit funner by leaving a little sweetness in my wake. Sidewalk chalk in hand, I made the world (and my walk) just a little sweeter, like so:

This utility marking of some sort, originally just an unassuming number five, got an automatic sugary makeover;

a manhole got turned into a cake-hole;

a tagged doorway got a sugar-coating;

...of course, at one point I did have to tell Cuppie that he was a bit behind the times...

Cuppie found a waffle in the urban wilderness;

instead of stop, I said "GO!" to sweetness;

...and though it's not necessarily cake-related, I left an optimistic note of sweetness for whoever might happen upon it:

These sidewalk chalk tributes likely washed away quickly, but talk about a way to brighten up a rainy day!

Sweet Art: Andy Warhol News Quote

What with all of the talk lately about how the time is high for pie and the cupcake is dead, it seemed appropriate to offer up another Warhol quote, illustrated to comment on the subject, from his brilliant book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol : (From A to B and Back Again). This quote--"I'm confused about who the news belongs to"--seemed to work nicely.

Team pie or team cake? No matter how you slice it, it's gonna be delicious.

Behind the Sweet Scenes: How a CakeSpy Watercolor Happens

It's no secret that the artwork featured on this site is totally sweet. But have you ever wondered about how it comes to be?

Like a delectable baked good, it requires many steps and sometimes quite a bit of time to come together--but ultimately, we're all rewarded with something sweet and delightful. Right? Well, in case you've ever been curious, here's how the magic happens:

Step 1: Find inspiration. Lately, I've been finding a lot of inspiration from Andy Warhol quotes--my favorite source is The Philosophy of Andy Warhol : (From A to B and Back Again). This is a book I bought from the dollar racks at the Strand Bookstore in NYC while I was in college, and it has always been close to me since that moment. Happily, I find that just about any Andy Warhol quote is made even more hilarious when illustrated with cupcakes.

Looking through it, it was quickly clear that this quote was the one:

Step 2:  Lay down a game plan. I usually pencil in a rough sketch, and then ink over it in permanent black ink.

Step 3: Get ready to paint. I give the ink a few minutes to dry, then erase the pencil markings underneath, so I have a surface primed for paint. 

Step 4: Get to it. I wish I could say that I have a method in terms of laying down dark to light colors, or something of that nature, but I don't, really. In this case, I started by painting in the green of the leaves because I knew that I'd want to do some more detailing on top.

Step 5: Lay down your paint, color by color. Now, I know I said I don't get technical about what colors I lay down in what order, but what I always do is let one color dry before laying another one next to it. With watercolor, if you want to keep your colors clean and separate, this is important--otherwise they will bleed. This can be nice if you want the colors to blend (such as in a sunset, or on the coloring of a flower) but in my work I don't look for that effect. (Note: Please take a moment to admire the friendship bracelet below, made by my friend James).

Sometimes if I get bored waiting for it to dry I'll either speed the process along with a hair dryer, or I will just work on another painting for a few minutes.

Step 6: Once I've painted in all of the elements, I like to go back and add some detailing in lightly darker paint--for instance, shadowing on the buildings:

or add some slightly darker green on the leaves, to add a little more dimension.

Step 7: Finally, never forget to finish off the cake with a cherry!

...and voila, a finished painting. Andy would be proud, I think.

Sweet Art: Andy Warhol Quotes, Illustrated with Cupcakes

Who inspires a spy? Andy Warhol, for sure. Although food-wise he's probably most closely associated with soup cans, the king of Pop (art, that is) was actually quite a sweet tooth: he's quoted as having said "All I ever really want is sugar", and was in the habit of ordering a big piece of manly meat at restaurants, only to discard it on the street and go home for the dinner he really wanted of toast with sweet jam.

So how better to celebrate Warhol's work than by illustrating several of his quotes with sweet treats? Here are some of my favorites, largely from The Philosophy of Andy Warhol : (From A to B and Back Again)

"I never fall apart because I never fall together""My ideal wife would have a lot of bacon, bring it all home, and have a TV station besides"

"When I got my first TV set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships with other people""Sometimes something can look beautiful just because it's different in some way from the other things around it."

Originals for sale at CakeSpy Shop.

Cake Byte: New Holiday Card Designs Available!

Some say that the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year, but I say if it's a season that involves cookies and Yule Logs, bring it on.

And it's in that sweet spirit that I'm delighted to unveil my 2010 collection of holiday cards! As reported on Cupcakes Take the Cake by the charming Java Cupcake, the sweetest cards on earth are now available online and at CakeSpy Shop--but be warned, they won't be reprinted, so when they're gone they're gone!

Of course, if you were a fan of last year's popular Naughty and Nice collection, I do still have a limited quantity of mixed cards available; or, you can either mix and match or have me choose a mix for you.

Find it all online at!

Sweet Notes: Little Love Letters to Chicago, from CakeSpy

So, if you read this site, like, ever, you probably know that the guiding principle of CakeSpy is that I am seeking sweetness in everyday life, and hopefully leaving the world a sweeter place with my work. I know, so cheesy you could die, right?

Well, don't die yet. First, check out these sweet little love-notes I left around Chicago, with hopes that they would sweeten the day(s) of those who found them:

First, Floriole. I was thrilled to hear that these dudes had opened up a retail spot, because I had been delighted by a canelé I picked up at their Farmer's Market booth 2 years ago.

Alas, Floriole was ferme on Lundi! Sacre bleu! Well, I left them a little something to find when they were ouvert again, to let them know I cared. A note, nestled between their outdoor tables, to be discovered by an employee in the morning! (picture of note is at the top of the post)

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Second, while browsing some delightful secondhand clothes at The Buffalo Exchange, I thought I might add to the "treasure hunt" aspect of thrifting by hiding a treasure in a handbag for sale.

Of course, anyone who buys an Andy Warhol handbag has good taste, and they should be rewarded, right?

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Third, I was struck by the beauty of this gorgeously space? So I left a little note nestled in by the toes of this Egyptian dude. Call it a footnote!

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Well, after all of this walking around, some caffeination was in order, and what better spot for a Seattleite to hit up for strong coffee than Intelligentsia? And to say thank you for the totally sweet latte, a totally sweet little note was left on the counter.

Thanks for the totally sweet times, Chicago! Love ya, miss ya! 2 good + 2 be = 4 gotten! (Note: A full bakery roundup to come)

Cake Byte: CakeSpy is About To Make Chicago Awesomer, September 11 and 12

Oh, Chicago, you're about to get so, so sweet!

For one thing, I'm coming your way for the Renegade Craft Fair next weekend. You'll find me and my crafty BFFAbbeyChristine cute-ing it up at the fair...come say hi! 

Second, I will be part of the HOOT! Owl group show at the Renegade Handmade store. It's a group show with a unifying theme: it's all inspired by Renegade Handmade's owl logo! My entry is pretty freaking adorable: it features a series of cupcakes and owls enjoying some delicious Tootsie Pops! Wonder who's gonna bite it first? One, two...three!

And, it goes without saying that you will vote for me, because it is a competition in addition to being a group show! And I could win a free booth at another Renegade Craft Fair, which means that I might come and show my art in your hometown! Well, if your hometown is New York, Austin, San Francisco, Chicago, or Los Angeles, that is. Voting will open in just a few days, but here's the link to bookmark.

For details on the Renegade Craft Fair, visit the official site!

Cake Byte: The Incredibly Awesome Art of Mike Geno at CakeSpy Shop!

Things I'm having a hard time with? First and foremost, wrapping my mind around the awesomeness that is Mike Geno's artwork. Second, believing that it's really here at CakeSpy Shop! 

These oil paintings are lovingly rendered on wood panels, and seem to channel the skill and style of another famous foodie painter, Wayne Thiebaud.

Now, I certainly can't afford a Thiebaud, but these Peeps might be within my price range:

Oh, and there are savory offerings too:

But even if you can't visit the shop, you can check it all out online here!

Sweet Art: A Series of Custom Paintings for the Staff of Cake Central Magazine!

So, if you are an avid cake-baker, chances are you've heard of a little publication and website called Cake Central.

Wait, who are we kidding--of course you have! It's like, kind of a big deal in the cake world. And not only have I had the good fortune to have been featured in their magazine--but now I have the extreme pleasure of saying that I have supplied artwork for the offices of several staffers!

Yup: I was commissioned to do custom artwork for several of the Cake Central employees--for each employee, I was given a brief description and full creative license to create a unique piece for each.

I did one for Jackie, the editor, who loves all things girly (shown top);

one for Leanne, cake maker and decorator extraordinaire;

one for Heath, avid follower of baseball and lover of all things Tiki;

one for Jackie T., a cake-loving fitness buff (I know, study in contrasts, right?);

one for Andy, a card playin' fella;

one for Misty, a photographer;

and one for Deanna, who loves Diet Coke, her pets, and music.

It was possibly the most fun custom job ever--and what a thrill to be hired by such a big deal in the cake world!

Check out Cake Central's website for more awesomeness. Oh, and, like, follow them on Twitter.

Sweet Art: Poster Design for CupcakeCamp DC!

What's the sweetest thing going on in DC?

CupcakeCamp DC, naturally! The festival of cupcake awesomeness (which I can attest to, because I attended the Seattle CupcakeCamp!) will be taking place in our Nation's Capitol on September 18th--that's a mere 45 days away, thanks to the counter on their website!

And adding to all that sweetness? They'll be using the above illustration for posters and promotion! Because hip cupcakes riding the metro in DC is totally...well, you know.

For more information, visit the CupcakeCamp DC website!

Taking it to the Sweet: Making the World Sweeter With Free Treats

We could all take a cue from Miss Rumphius, a children's book written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

Early on in the book, the main character's grandfather offers a life lesson, urging her to see the world, seek adventure, but says that ultimately, "you must do something to make your world more beautiful".

And with that principle as my guide, I've done this in the most simple way: by putting out sweet treats for people passing by my retail store. 

Why do this? Well, a couple reasons. True, it does bring customers in (and this helps with my rent and keeps my pugs in puppy chow).

But even more so, it's an incredible thing to see people's reactions as they pass by.

There is a certain magic to seeing people's faces light up as they unexpectedly encounter a tray of brightly colored cookies, cupcakes, or even Pop-Tarts broken into bite-sized pieces. Especially in a neighborhood which is best known for its disaffected hipsters. It's fun to see them smile.

As for the sweets themselves? Sometimes they are homemade, and sometimes they are store-bought. Truly, though, (yes, I'll admit it!) the sweets themselves are almost secondary to the idea that this gesture is meant to take one out of the sometimes dull routine of everyday life--if only for a sweet and fleeting moment.

After all, who isn't just a little delighted by the prospect of a free cookie or treat, just because?

And it's fun to muse on the possible sweet implications: for instance, if encountering unexpected treats brightened one person's day enough so that they smiled at the next person they saw on the street, and that act put that person in a better mood...well, just think of the sweet domino effect this could all have.

Here's to a sweet week for all!

Want to see the magic for yourself? I'll be putting these out today (while they last!):

Total sweetness, brought to you by CakeSpy Shop, 415 E. Pine Street, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Sweet Art: World Pupcakes

When it comes to puns related to the World Cup, what is the best direction to go? World Pup? Nah--not cute enough. World cup-cakes? Nah, still not quite there.

Oh--I've got it: combine them for ultimate cuteness! World Pupcakes!

In honor of that big soccer (to my friends not in the US, that's football) event that starts today!