It's time to state the obvious: Things don't always go perfectly for me when I'm doing cakes. Sometimes, they go REALLY not-perfectly.
I have two friends that jointly celebrate their birthdays each year. The theme for these celebrations is Mario Kart pretty much by default, and this year I decided to contribute a sculpted cake. This cake was originally supposed to look like the blue Spiny Shell, with spikes and big adorable wings. I made the wings from pastillage ahead of time, gloating about how well-prepared I was. The day before the cake was set to be done, I attached the wings to my little fondant-covered blue shell and began airbrushing some detail. This is where things go downhill. My airbrush gun developed a mind of its own, and before I knew it, I had a big mess of black and brown all over my shell and--most infuriatingly--the pastillage wings.
My initial thought was to try to just make it very... shaded. When I was done it just looked melancholy, like the kind of shell Morrissey would throw. Not to mention airbrush gun malfunctions look more like splattered messes than anything else. The only thing I could try to do was remove the color with water, but I knew going in that was likely to fail. The black stuck in every tiny crack, and as I tried to clean them, the wings crumbled. Goodbye, Spiny Shell, we hardly knew ye.
I won't lie and say that I am happy when things go wrong this way. I'm always always pretty frustrated, but I also tend to know that pouting won't do me a whole lot of good. Since this was a gift, it was nothing to stress over anyway... the recipients would never know how it was meant to look unless I told them (which I did, because they're chill and it was funny in retrospect). And since I was running low on fondant and still wanted to feel proud of what I'd made, I decided to issue myself a challenge: remake that sucker without a single scrap of fondant.
The banana and stars went on as planned. I did decide to pipe the banana's features instead of painting them. With the new look of the shell, the banana would have looked too different in style with painted details. I also knocked out some cupcakes heaped high with passionfruit buttercream... you know, in case the cake was too small. It wasn't, but everyone had a cupcake or two anyway.
The cake was filled with passionfruit buttercream and fresh mango. The banana was made out of 3 stacked and carved jumbo cupcakes. The shell was made from a carved 6" sphere (2 demispheres with a supported cake board in the middle). I used bubble tea straws for support since this cake was so very tiny. The shell was decorated entirely in colored Italian meringue buttercream, and the bottom of the banana was coated with a thin layer of black buttercream before applying the 3 sections of the peel in fondant. This allowed the black to peek out and made it look a bit more like in the game. The top of the banana was airbrushed green, and all the features are were piped in Italian buttercream. The wooden board was decorated with flooded royal icing in a rainbow road pattern and airbrushed with luster dust. I hot glued a ribbon around the side, but it's only in half of the photos or so.
The birthday boy and girl liked it, and celebrated that fact by re-enacting American Gothic with it.