The AFRC (Advanced Forming Research Centre) is a Strathclyde University research facility in Glasgow. When they opened a new wing to the building in 2014 I was commissioned to build (sorry, that should be make) a cake of the building to mark the occasion.
On first glance the cake looks like a simple one. It is long, low and understated. How deceptive! This cake is a monster cake. 30″ long, it’s made of 7 or 8 fruit cakes. The cake became a fully blown project, and was many many hours in the planning and making. (Please click on the images below to view them in more detail).
I visited the AFRC facility to see what the building looked like. I took a gazillion pictures. I got the building plans. I visited the facility again. I took more pictures. I counted each light, each door, each wind catcher on the roof. I went inside the building and studied the skylights. I looked at the entrance turnstile, bicycle racks, fire alarm, benches, car barrier, speed hump, flag poles, disabled parking. I measured the angle of the roof. I noted what shape and colour the slabs were around the building, and noted where there was tarmac instead, or grass, and where kerbs were high or flat. I noted where the path had those little white stones embedded into it, and the black chuckie stones which lined the edge of the path next to the building.
The cake is a scale model. I made my husband climb onto the roof of the building to count the windows (yes I did…..).
Every minute detail is there, for example the doors. Nearly every door was different, and they are all correctly represented on the cake. Have a look at the pictures. Can you spot the tiny pinhead CCTV cameras? If I was making the flag poles today, I would reinforce them with flower wire. When I made this cake I had never heard of flower wire, so the flag poles are simply made of sugar. Yikes! How did they survive? Have a look at the grass. Every blade was individually made and stuck on to the cake board with sugar glue.
If I include the planning, site visits, experimentation, cake board (with all that grass!) and finally the creation of this cake, I am estimating in the region of 400 hours. And so you understand why my friends think I might have a tiny touch of OCD.
The cake took 2 people to lift it, on a specially made board, and was delivered to the AFRC for the opening ceremony of the building. I waited with baited breath. And I waited. And the cake did not get cut! They couldn’t bring themselves to do it. And so the cake remains. To this day, it is in a glass case, displayed in the foyer of the AFRC for all to see. It is still in pristine condition, years later. (Well the outside of the cake looks pristine anyway). The grass has faded a bit, but nothing a little blast with my airbrush won’t sort. Precision engineering and cake combined. The sky is the limit.