DIY Cake Stands: For Only a Few Dollars, You Can Make a Cake Stand That'll WOW The Hostess
There are easy craft projects and then there are EASY craft projects. This is the later.
I have always loved cake stands. They are, in fact, one of my many obsessions. There is something special about cake stands, perhaps it's because they can make the most humblest of foods look special and celebratory.
Years ago, I began making my own cake stands for my catering business. I didn't have the resources needed to buy the cake stands and serving pieces from the restaurant supply companies. Once I learned how easy they were to make and the variety of styles I could create, I began crafting them and I haven't stopped yet.
Years later, as a ceramic designer, I learned how much it really costs to make most cake stands and what it would cost me, as the consumer. I couldn't justify that expense when I could just as easily make my own.
Later, when I no longer catered and had a plethora of ceramic cake stands, I began to give then as hostess gifts. I would buy some cheese and breads and place on a stand. On occasion, I would wrap the entire gift in cellophane, other times, I would simply tie one with a ribbon. It took very little time to make a beautiful gift and my friends and family loved them.
The gift itself wasn't costly, but it looked so much more expensive than it was. More importantly, the hostess thought it was wonderful. I liked that when the evening was over, our friends could use the cake stand again and again.
A One-Piece Cake Stand - Why It Costs So Much.
While making your own cake stand may cost you a few dollars, buying a cake stand at retail can be much more expensive. The reasons are understandable once you know how cake stands or other pedestal items are made at the factory.
Depending, of course, on the type of clay being used, there are a few methods typically used today. The first method, requires the clay be poured into a mold. That mold includes both the plate and the base. When the clay is dry the hardened clay cake stand is removed as one piece. This is a costly method for the factory and therefore to you.
The second method may involve forming a plate and a base piece which are later held together using a liquid-like clay (sometimes called slip paint). The liquid clay will eventually dry and the two pieces will be permanently held together as one.
A third method, which is in essence the same method that you will be using, requires two pieces be glued together. The factory will create a clay plate with an indent on the bottom. The base will then be glued to the plate. The adhesive will be applied when the ceramics are finished being fired and have been painted.
Most of the ceramics that you shop for are made in China. When you purchase a cake stand made in China, it will, most likely, be less expensive than a cake stand made in another country. The reasons are many and can be rather complicated. If the cake stand you wish to buy is made in Italy, for example, you pay more.
Below is an image of one of my cake stands that I bought years ago. It is a single piece cake stand. In other words, in was crafted as one piece. It is a 12 inch stand with no embellishments (meaning there is no fancy design). It is also a plain white glaze. This cake stand cost me $50.00.
As you can see from image #1, It is a rather plain cake stand. The base has been carved slightly. From looking at image #2 and #3, you can see there is no seam between the plate and the base. This cake stand was created using a mold. Image #4 indicates that this stand was crafted in Italy. Ceramics made in Italy will be stamped as such. Ceramics made in China will also have some kind of stamp, including the tiny gold "Made in China" sticker.
One reason cake stands are adored by so many people is that they are made in different shapes and sizes. By making your own, you may, in fact, be able to make as many different shapes and sizes as you wish.
Why not host a make-your-own-pizza party? Make a few cake stands using large plates or platters and serve each pizza on a stand.
For your seafood-loving friends, make a stand with a large platter. Purchase seaweed from your local fishmonger and place the seaweed on the platter. Top with fresh shucked oysters and lemon wedges.
Lay a bed of mixed lettuces on the platter and top with shrimp. Add another small stand and serve cocktail sauce.
Next time you host Thanksgiving, Christmas or a birthday party, think about using individually sized cake stands. Rather than one birthday cake, serve each guest a cupcake on a stand.
Don't think that you can only use plates, either. Bowls are very useful. Choose different ceramic bodies and let your imagination go. Use a mug as the base for one of your cake stands. It's whimsical and is easy to carry.
How To Use Various Sizes Of Cake Stands
Large Plate - Stand
Small Plate - Stand
Bowl - Stand
first course appetizer
piece of fruit
shelled, mixed nuts
There are so many places that you can find plates and bowls for your cake stands. I have found some beautiful vintage pieces while antiquing. Most towns have at least one thrift shop. Here are a few other suggestions on where you may find just the right item to make your cake stands:
- Building 19
- Salvation Army
- Family Dollar
- Christmas Tree Shop
So, How Do I Make My Own Cake Stands?
Once you have a plate and a bowl (or whatever ceramic shapes you choose), be sure that the plate fits snuggly to the bowl.
Some plates (generally, this is true for larger ceramics, like platters) have a ceramic foot on the bottom which is used during the firing process. Be sure your bowl rests flatly on the bottom of the plate. Otherwise your glue will not create a firm hold. I have tried to chisel these off and I've had some success. Other times, I have managed to destroy the plate.
Now, you are ready to make your cake stand.
You can use different glues to make your stands. I prefer using a permanent glue and I like to use marine glue. If you only want to use your cake stand for a single event, try using poster putty.
I use marine glue because it dries quickly and is waterproof. I recommend that you not soak your cake stands in water to wash. Hot soapy water is just fine, I just don't soak them.
Before you attached the base, you could measure the plate to be sure the base is centered. I generally wing it. You have a few moments to adjust the ceramics before the glue begins to set. If there is excess glue on the plate, carefully wipe it away with a clean cloth or paper towel.
I like to let the new cake stand set overnight. The glue dries much quicker than that, but I prefer to be certain.
This is the brand that I like best. It is smelly when applying, but the smell does go away. The glue is also clear.
In addition to using different shapes and sizes of ceramics, consider gluing a ceramic flower on the edge of the stand for an added touch.
Pier 1 (another great source for plates and bowls) very often sells chopstick rests. They are small ceramic figurines. Glue one or two to the edge of the plate of to the base.
Check eBay for vintage ceramic flowers.
Before Gluing, Consider a Personal Note.
Ceramic pens can be found at craft stores and they are sold in various colors. With them, you are able to write a message on a plate and then bake it in an oven to make it permanent.
Think about drawing a picture onto a plate, penning "Happy Birthday" with musical notes. Don't think that just because you don't have drawing talent you can't do this. I have seen a cake stand that was embellished with what amounts to be scribbling and it was adorable.
- Muffins - or cupcakes always look so enticing perched atop a cake stand
- Cookies - why bring a platter of cookies, when stacks of them look so amazing
- Loaf of Bread - tie a ribbon around the loaf and place on the stand. Makes a lovely centerpiece, also.
- Cake - well, it is called a cake stand is it not?
- Pie - beautiful pies placed on a stand at the bakery always look so wonderful
- Cheeses - Cheeses, olives, tapenade...you could afford this gift and a nice bottle of wine
- Fruits - Pears, figs..I brought a dish of lemons once to an outdoor gathering...simple and well received
- Chocolates - There are so many different kinds of chocolates today. This is a nice dessert gift with port
- Fruit Salad - Make your stand using a shallow bowl. This is a great brunch gift and looks fabulous
- Mojito Ingredients - For a summer BBQ, I put limes, a bunch of mint, sugar cubes, rum minis from the liquor store and a muddler. The stand was made using a platter-sized plate
- Donuts - Pile your stand high with donuts for the next time you show up for a coffee date.
Etching Glass is Easy!
While scouring my area thrift shops, Goodwill and Salvation Army, I've unwrapped dozens of these small glass domes. Typically, these domes come atop a wooden base, however, it's the glass dome that captures my attention. I've picked up two or three of these (they cost a few dollars) and etched on them for a more personal gift.
Glass etching cream can be found at your local craft supply store and is easy to use. Cutting the template is what requires a bit of practice, but once you have the template perfected, it only takes a few minutes to etch your hostess' name or sendiment.
If you don't have a steady hand and cutting a template is out of the question, you can buy transfer sheets (also sold at craft supply shops). There is a bit of work required for this method, as well, however, there are endless possibilities. This method also requires that you place your ceramic or glass in the oven to bake briefly.
Here are a few additional ways to transfer your image or sentiment to your cake stand.
"Oh, Happy Day!"
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Make a cake stand from thrifted finds. Only your imagination can slow you down! Search your attic for treasure that may make a perfect cake stand. Buy several plastic animals and hot glue them in a standing pile. Be sure they hold your plate firmly.
Make cake stands from vintage china sets. Many china sets are sold at thrift shops because they are missing pieces. Often you can get the set rather inexpensively. Simple patterns turned into stands would make a holiday buffet look beautiful.
- More DIY Wooden Cake Stands
Make a cake stand using wooden parts from your local craft store. I've always loved the simplicity of these cake stands. With a little acrylic paint sold in hundreds of colors, you can paint these stands to suit what ever need or occasion.