It was a tea party, and my sister gave me full reign over what to design the cake like. She told me however that Willow loved butterflies and flowers on cakes, and that I could do any color that was pastel or vintage, in order to fit in with all the tea sets. She also told me about Willow's "Willow Ware China" that she used to play with as a small girl. I imagine you've probably seen it before - it's quite striking and has traditional Asian designs made of royal blue on white porcelain. So I decided to try to incorporate everything she said, minus the pastel.
I have been dying to try white henna designs on a white cake, and so I decided that the sides of this one would be completely covered with free hand paisleys, butterflies and flowers, with dots of various sizes to fill up the spaces between. This ended up working beautifully, since I ended up having a four hour long battle with my fondant that just did not end pretty. It was my fault - I tried adding all the shortening at once instead of just as I needed it, and the result was a crumbly, cracking mess that had absolutely zero elasticity. I saved it by adding more melted marshmallows and powdered sugar, but it was still cracked all over and I had to roll it extra thick, which I really don't like to do. Lesson learned! But at least all the white designs covered up the cracks, so you really could not tell in the end.
As for the top, I wanted to paint on the legit "Willow Ware" design, so the design itself is not original. As a side note, I would not have done that if I had been making a cake for sale, because I strongly feel that it would have been a copyright violation, and I am so extremely against that, but since it was a gift for family, I knew it wouldn't matter in this case. The way I made it was by painting with food coloring watered down with water and then outlining it with buttercream. I am rather proud of how it turned out, since I was really worried I wouldn't be able to pull it off. And I think I found my signature stacking border - ripples of buttercream topped with edible pearls. I just love the impact that makes and the elegance it lends to the cake.
Well, my dear Willow, I love you so very, very much and it has been such a joy watching you grow into a beautiful young lady, both inside and out. I absolutely love spending time with you and think you are just the bees knees! Seriously though, I love you sweetie pie and I am so very proud of you! Happy birthday girlie!