“Tell me, what would your dream cake look like?” To many cake designers, this may just be an empty question. They’ll listen to what you have to say, but they won’t take that question to task. When Alex Narramore, Creative Director at THE MISCHIEF MAKER, asks this question, she takes it as an opportunity to not only learn what you have in mind, but to give you more than you ever dreamed possible.
An Eastern Kentucky native, Alex Narramore provides custom cake designs filled with painstaking detail, beautiful hand-sculpted sugar flowers, and delicious complex flavors. The Mischief Maker specializes in custom wedding cakes, specialty event/sculpted cakes, and sugar flowers. To The Mischief Maker, custom is more than just a word. Custom is a promise that your cake will be one of a kind. Narramore says, “I love working with clients. If we have a good brainstorming session going, clients and I often spend many hours in consultation. However, long consultations are by no means a requirement, and communication with the client can be as minimal or extensive as they wish for it to be. I try to pick up on elements that the bride or client likes, take that into consideration, present material on my end that they connect with and combine those elements together into a new unique design. I won’t duplicate a design made by others in the industry and never do the same design twice. I feel that this keeps the experience for my previous brides special. To me, it wouldn’t suit for them to see their wedding cake the next month for another bride. That would diminish some aspect of the custom design and experience.” These are artworks. Each flower a sculpture. Each cake design full of multiple flowers in scale to one another that make up a composition and a color palette made entirely from scratch.
Alex Narramore of The Mischief Maker is a botanically accurate sugar flower artist based in Lexington, KY. Alex was educated in art and is a self taught baker. Merging her love for gardening with sculpting and color, Alex grows the specimens in her garden that she needs to study and observe to accurately sculpt to a correct scale and paint the sugar flowers that will later adorn her cakes. The real flowers and blooms are cut from the garden, then copied in sugar piece by piece. No two blooms are the same. Each sugar petal, stamen, and flower part is made by hand and each finished bloom is hand painted. The cake designs are retired immediately upon baking and are never recreated. Very low volume, only one cake per month is ideally accepted, as the detail work for each cake can take many weeks of preparation. Alex works with her mother on the sugar flowers at her grandmother’s house in eastern Kentucky. Tucked away in the mountains, they do some of their best creative work with their sugar flowers. Whether at Mamaw’s or in her home garden downtown in Lexington, she can always be found somewhere between the garden and the studio, usually with her Irish Setter, Mocha, on her heels. Alex has been recognized world-wide within her field, including: periodical publications, news outlets, being named one of the top four international wedding cake designers of 2015 by the Cake Masters’ Awards, and being named, by prestigious judges: Sylvia Weinstock, Mike McCarey, Chef Nicholas Lodge, Colette Peters, Ron Ben- Israel, Kerry Vincent, Eddie Spence M.B.E., Chef Sherry Yard, and Lisa Mansour, the 2017 winner of the award for international wedding cake artist of the year by The Golden Tier Awards. The Golden Tier Awards is the first American-hosted, international awards show of its kind. This exclusive event brings together pastry chefs, cake and sugar-artists, dessert professionals, authors and writers, chocolatiers, instructors, and retailers from across the globe to celebrate the very best the industry has to offer. In 2018, The Mischief Maker was named one of the top 10 cake artists in the United States by Cake Masters magazine.
“My mother, Lisa Narramore, and I work on all of the sugar flowers together, going to great lengths to provide every painstaking detail. From delicately thin sugar petals and veining, all the way to custom color palettes and in the past even edible scents. Ideally, we take the real flowers apart and copy them piece by piece. Even the sugar stamens are handmade. No detail is left unturned,” says Narramore.
Having obtained a degree in Studio Arts from Northern Kentucky University, Narramore loves the subtle nuances of color, composition, and texture. She carries this love and art and design knowledge over to her stunning sugar flower arrangements and wonderful cake designs. She holds color (along with shape) in the highest regard. Beginning with a white piece of sugar dough, Narramore hand mixes colors for each cake, sugar flower or sugar figure. She carefully combines a vast multitude of hues, until the color perfectly matches your event and color references. She will not stop until a bevy of lively, energetic and vibrant colors are before you. There are no pre-mixed or pre-manufactured colors utilized in any work by The Mischief Maker. No detail is too minor of a concern. Sugar flowers can never be too time consuming. If more time means more detail, then time is happily allotted to the project and keeping the volume low makes this possible. Whether two hundred sugar orchid centers need hand painting, five-dozen sugar roses need dusting, or a multitude of delicate layers must be added to sugar cabbage roses, dahlias, and ranunculus, she is not finished until they are perfect.
Not only must her cake designs please the client in appearance, but a Mischief Maker cake must also please their taste buds. After all, that’s what’s important, right? Regarding flavors, Narramore explains, “I keep a wide variety of renowned flavor profiles that I use all of the time, as often there may already be a predesigned flavor that appeals to you. My white buttermilk cake is special and is my calling card. It is truly special and what I recommend. I also offer customization of flavors for my cakes and desserts. For example, perhaps the client loves passion fruit, maybe they love matcha green tea. No matter the client’s palate or preference, I do my best to combine various cake types, fillings, and buttercreams to make something completely custom to the client, built from the inside out. Whether you choose to go with the white buttermilk cake ( and you should) or a custom flavor, you can feel confident that the fawned over, celebrated flavors will be a hit with both you and your guests.” Narramore executes all baking, including: cakes, French macarons, and all desserts (usually made just for friends these days). Each composition utilizes the very best: delectable and smooth Swiss meringue buttercream, an array of complimentary syrups, fillings, and moist flavorful cakes. These are baked on an extremely short timeline, in order to maintain the freshest cake possible.
In the past, The Mischief Maker has been quite imaginative in designing other aspects of a wedding or event, such as cake and dessert tables, as well as styling desserts and presentations for the overall event. In order to provide a fun and interactive centerpiece to parties, Narramore would often utilize the cake to compliment her dessert tables. Narramore explains, “We intended to create an immersive installation, alongside the planners and clients, that complimented and set the stage for the cake and desserts within. The table and/or overall environment would be completely customized to compliment the cake with a custom made linen or a range of curated display pieces from our collection, a variety of serving pieces (we have full collections of antique silver, gold, crystal, and glassware),and delicious desserts, including French macarons, pastries, etc.” One of the biggest challenges someone looking at a Mischief Maker table must overcome is determining which flowers on the table are part of the floral arrangements and which are sugar flowers. Custom builds, like cake plinths, stands, and pedestals are more common these days more so than large scale tables and linen making. The ability to do these builds or make a linen remains, however. Sometimes only custom will do. Narramore has been known to draw in cake stands that simply do not exist, which leads them to being handmade for the client and order. On both the cake and any task at hand, she works closely with her clients to maintain their vision throughout the process. She is an intuitive person, who provides ideas and insight into the bride or client’s style and personality. After a devoted consultation, she achieves a true sense of the client’s overall style and wishes. Follow Alex on Pinterest here.
Lisa Narramore, Alex’s mother, works together with Alex on every sugar flower order. While she won’t be involved directly with the cake itself, Lisa’s delicate touch combined with a motivation towards perfection elevates her work with sugar flowers and other fine details. As Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” If they aren’t just right, Lisa will throw away ten trays of sugar flowers.
Lisa’s exquisite taste and standards are her own worst enemies! Not only do her innovative and clever insights help make the cakes what they are, they also keep Lisa and Alex brainstorming long into the night. Lisa’s sugar flowers are nothing short of breathtaking. Follow Lisa on Pinterest here.
Deron Eckert, Alex’s husband, has an interesting background, as well. A lawyer turned, in the past, a part-time sugar figure and cake sculptor. He has a keen eye for precision and a desire for order, as exemplified on some of our loftier patterned cakes. He shows true attention to detail and skill regarding replication/likeness of scenes and characters. Additionally, he is always very mindful of scale. Complementing one another, Deron and Alex work together on all sugar figure and sculpted cake orders and cake sketches. Consistently double checking the other’s work, in order to combine the best of both their skill sets. You can always count on Deron to be calm, cool, and collected. Deron, however, can mainly be found organizing everyone to ensure everything is packaged, boxed up, and delivered on time.
D.A. Narramore, Alex’s father, executes the planning, organization for any custom builds with our associated builder, seamster and seamstress. He also curates and maintains our extensive collection of serving/design pieces. This includes: full collections of antique gold and silver, crystal, and a variety of glassware. Some of which includes: apothecary jars in every shape and size imaginable, Heisey glass, milk glass, and pink Depression glass. We have also curated an array of sleek pieces. Alex’s father has artistic skills and can pitch in when needed on an order.
Natasha Raichel, of Natasha Raichel Photography, is a Kentucky based fashion/life-style photographer and artist. She is responsible for a number of the stunning images you see presented. In addition to her gorgeous images of people and weddings. Natasha photographs people and events all over Kentucky, as well as destination events out-of-state and on location. Alex has taken the images in the past few years, but Natasha always finalizes and signs off on the post-production edits.
The cakes exist on site temporarily, but they need documentation to live on forever. Many of the details become sugar landscapes, or sugar-scapes, as we call them. They would be just as comfortable as an art piece on your wall after the cake is gone forever. In the past, A cake was simply not complete without going through Natasha’s lens to create an eternal and endless life for our beautiful and highly detailed cakes and dessert environments. It is a dream anytime Alex gets to work side by side with her at weddings and events. While Alex now photographs the majority of all events and works with other photographer friends in the industry too, Natasha’s work with the pictures in all stages. The help, teaching, and advice are invaluable along with some of the most magical images in the portfolio. Many of the images you see are the result of her and Alex working together as friends. To see more of Natasha’s work, view her website here. Follow Natasha Raichel Photography on Instagram here and Facebook here.
Phyllis Barker, who threatened to be included here, as to not induce more work-load, simply has to be recognized for her long hours of commitment. A family friend, partner/associate of Window Threads, Phyllis executes all custom sewing. A highly skilled seamstress, Phyllis can work with some of the most difficult fabrics and techniques. She oversees and consults on all fabric design work, including: custom linens, backgrounds, and draperies. On large projects, Phyllis travels to the venue to ensure everything is set to perfection, for which we are forever grateful.
James “Tweet” Johnson is our associated project builder and master carpenter. He works to bring our large scale ideas and projects to life. Some examples include: custom display pieces, structures for live-boxwood walls, and even cake structures that support and hold gravity-defying sculpted cakes, like the Flying Ford Anglia cake. We sometimes work with other artisans and builders too, but Tweet is a life long go-to and family friend.
THE MISCHIEF MAKER is a coming together of a diverse group of individuals, giving the best of themselves for one sole purpose: to give you the best event possible.