Sunday, 5 January 2014

Plants Vs Zombies Vs Gingerbread

Another holiday season, another Gingerbread project for the Edmonton Festival of Trees. As always my interpretation of this years theme, Up on the Rooftop, was loose. Instead I based my project on one of my favorite games, Plants Vs Zombies. Yup, on top of the countless hours I have devoted to playing this highly addictive and amusing game, I have now dedicated countless hours to recreating it in an edible effigy.

After much consideration I decided to ask if I could do a double size project. To make the playing area (which was rectangular), as well as Crazy Dave's house, I was going to need a lot more room. My favorite organiser, Elaine said it was no problem, although  would not be eligible to win any of the ribbons. Fine by me, cause I want to promote the cause, and practise my skills. She even kindly gave me a double board to work with, instead of having to put two boards together. Have I mentioned her loveliness?
There was some finagling to get the giant board to fit in my car for the ride. And consequently some worry about transporting the finished project. But that was a worry for another day, I got the massive board home and proceeded with preparations. Before I could start decorating I needed to wrap the whole board in foil. And given the size of it, we decided to cover the bottom with a layer of tape to make moving it easier. 

Once the board is all prepped up, it get a coat of royal icing that covers the whole top of the MDF board. 

Once all of these steps are done, I have my blank canvas that I can start decorating. SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Step one is to take off my baker cap, and channel my inner architect. Plan out the shapes I will need to build the house, and how everything is going to fit together. Once I have a plan (which I almost never completely stick to), I switch gears back to baking. I make a couple big batches of gingerbread and start baking my building materials. I use templates I made from my "blueprints" to cut out all of the shapes I need to build my house.

As well as cutting out some random-ish rectangles to use for the fence. I made a big ol' batch of royal icing, the nails, and glue of gingerbread house building. The main walls of the house are coated with the royal icing, leaving space for doors and windows.

The icing is used to attach the walls to the board as well as to each other. I whipped up some fondant and marbled it with food colouring to mimic the look of wood. The fondant gets rolled out and wrapped around the smaller gingerbread pieces and glued it on with yet more royal icing. Badabing - FENCE!

Now the fence pieces need to set up, so I turn my attention back to the house. The roof is perched in place and stuck with icing. Of course it is never that easy. Because of the large size house and the small size of my oven, the three parts to the roof had to be baked in six pieces. When they were placed on the top, there was some adventure time trying to get all the pieces to line up and stay put. After much time and much frosting they finally stuck. 

As my fellows fans of PvZ will know, the playing field is 9 X 5. I  made fondant in 3" squares and alternated the colors to create the backyard battleground. 

 I got the bright idea to add texture to the lawn area. An idea which I came to regret. 9 X 5 = 45. each square took about a minute or two texturize.
 When it was finally all done, the effect was mildly effective. And way too time consuming. LOL.

 At this point I gave everything a little while to chill out and set in place. I started working on the numerous sculptures I had planned. My fella kindly made a whole bunch of wire armatures to support my sculpting. It was his first time making them, and my first time really using them. I gotta say, it made things much easier! Especially the thin limbs of the decaying comical zombies.
 Big ol' pile of half finished zombies!

Now back to the board.

 As you can see right over here
I used royal icing to assemble the fence pieces, and covered the roof in fondant tiles. My sculptures were almost finished and ready to place into eternal battle. To fight the zombies I made the classic peashooters, walnuts, potato mines, and sunflowers.

Once the windows and doors were in place and painted accordingly, and all the characters were finished, it was time to start assembly. Creating a scene of gruesome... I mean adorable zombie battle. It is all about the details too, such as mail boxes, shrubbery, trees, and all that jazz.
If I haven't already mentioned, the theme of this years festival was up on the rooftop, so obviously another important detail would be on the roof. If you play the game (and you should), you will know the roof is the scene of the final ZOMBOSS BATTLE!!!

Check out the ZomBoss and his amazing snow machine. 

All the pieces eventually find a home, and the project starts to take its final form. This is usually right before I have to deliver, in a flurry of stress, creativity, and giggles. The scene begins at the front of Crazy Dave's house, so tranquil and serene. until we travel to the back yard where the zombies are closing in on the safety mowers.

Winding around the house we find a mischievous and festive undead  graffiti artist. I not gonna lie, the teeny tiny spray paint can in his hand made me giggle an snort for about an hour.


 Project as complete as it is going to get. Down to the wire as usual. Wishing for just a few more hours as always. Delivery time is upon us. It is actually less traumatic to get the project safely to my vehicle than expected. The most stressful moment is when a CTV camera man calls just as we are about to pull out of the drive way to ask if he can film the delivery! Commence overtired, stressed out freak outs, lol. I really didn't freak too much, we focused on getting the piece delivered, and I rambled nervously through a short interview. They mercifully edited it down nicely, you can check it out on my FB page.

All in all it was another wonderful project. I am very glad to be finished, and am already looking forward to next year.

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