I bought some fondant, gum paste, and assorted colors in anticipation. I wasn't sure if I wanted to ice the cake and leave it that way, or put fondant over the entire thing and make it look all glossy. My main focus was the insects.... :)
The first thing I did was to get all the insect reference books out and make a list of the insects I was interested in making and those that Malachi wanted. Next, I divided the gum paste into balls and tinted them with the colors I would need.
The Ladybug was first on my list....I wanted to start with something small and see how it would come together. It was so fun!! I moved on to a Honeybee, Deer Fly, Longhorn Beetle, a green Click Beetle (which I have since forgotten the name of), Blue Morpho Butterfly, Dragonfly, Fire Ant, Beetle, Click Beetle, Stag Beetle, Tiger Beetle, Swallowtail, Orb Weaver Spider, and one of those little bluish-purple butterflies that you see in the spring... :D I thoroughly enjoyed looking the insects up and trying to make a gum paste copy of them. The legs on the beetles did give me some problems. In the beginning, I thought I could use the gum paste to make them, make an indention in the side of the insects, and stick them in. This didn't work because the gum paste just crumbled. Then I bought some licorice and tried to cut small pieces to fit into indentations...this worked, but the legs looked too stiff. When I was near the end, I had a Eureka! moment and decided to make legs and put them on the underside of the insect's body by using a bit of water as an adhesive. I didn't like the way the Orb Weaver spider turned out, so I didn't use it on the cake. The legs were made of licorice and too flimsy. In hindsight, the gum paste attached to the underside of the body and dried into place at an arch would have worked out perfectly. (I think,)
This is a picture of the finished cake. I cut out about 1/2" deep from the middle of the cake to make the "box". Instead of covering the entire thing with fondant like I had contemplated, I decided to just ice it with chocolate icing. I cut out a piece of white fondant and placed it in the center. I thought about putting pins (ones that hadn't yet been used on insects...LOL) in the insects, but the insects were pretty hard and I didn't want to risk splitting any of them. I put a little water on the fondant and stuck them on. You can see down at the bottom of the box, under the ant, where the fondant looks shiny...this could be avoided by putting the water on the insect - as opposed to the fondant. I didn't notice this until it was too late. And it does show up worse in the picture than it did in reality, so it wasn't a huge deal.
The really cool thing about this day every year, is that Malachi and I share a birthday!! So, I am blessed with the gift that keeps on giving... <3