Sagmeister Cake for Design History

25 Feb

Austin Reed and I did a presentation on Stefan Sagmeister for Graphic Design History. When Austin emailed Stefan to express his adoration for his work and philosophy and ask if there was anything new on his mind we should make sure to include in the presentation, the response he received was simply “Stefan really likes ointment. Best, Joe.” We quickly decided to take the nonsensical response and make it even more senseless. Thus, we began working on an ointment cake. It consists of two sheet cakes placed end to end and carved into the shape of a tube of ointment. Austin baked the cakes and dropped them off with me as a sudden emergency rendered him unable to take part in the carving and decorating process. No worries, though, I took care of the rest that afternoon.


I used a large serrated knife for the large portions that needed to be carved away and a small smooth blade for the detail carvings. I hand-colored the fondant with food coloring and laid it over the tip and end of the bottle, creating the brown end and the black cap. I used a bamboo skewer to make indentions to represent the creases in the bottom of the tube and the grip on the cap. The white center of the tube is actually just Pilsbury Funfetti Icing. For the lettering, I colored some fondant black and rolled it out flat. I then opened up Illustrator and typed out “SAGMEISTER ointment” in Helvetica Neue, bolded. For whatever reason, I felt particularly disenchanted with the idea of using a printer at the time. I sized my text exactly on screen the way I wanted it on the cake, and placed a sheet of tracing paper over my Macbook screen. I then proceeded to VERY carefully and VERY lightly trace with a mechanical pencil the letterforms, having to stop every few letters and move my paper and the document because my screen is only so big. I looked a little more than ridiculous doing this. I then laid that tracing paper down over my rolled out fondant and cut out the forms with a small sharp knife. Next was the super nerdy part: kerning my fondant letters on an iced cake. I pressed them in lightly with a bamboo skewer and the cake was done! It was a big hit the next day, it looked awesome and tasted even better!


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