We were asked to make one of those cool animated Elmo cakes for our friends daughter’s second birthday. The theme is Elmo so we were going to try to make a cake to match his TV show, Elmo’s World.
We decided to steer away from eating Elmo since it may have traumatized the two year olds. We decided to make the piano the cake and use a real stuffed Elmo to play the piano. His arms move up and down by use of an electric motor from below. I made measurements of a cake pan and the Elmo we were able to pick up at Wal-Mart. This really decided how large everything would be and to make sure we would have enough cake for everyone.
Here’s a video with the final outcome of our Elmo cakes in action:
Originally I was going to make an assembly attached to an electric motor to make the hands go up and down. But I was able to find a Tamiya 3 speed crank axle gearbox here for only 6.50 and free shipping. Man that saved a lot of work! And a gearbox to boot. I set the ratio to 58.2/1 which gave me all the speed I need plus a little extra torque too.
I also purchased an assortment of potentiometers/trimmers from Radio Shack so I could control the speed. I used coat hanger wire to make the rods for the arms. I added all of this under the cake base so it was hidden and added some box structure to dampen the sound of the gears in the motor.
To allow the arms to move up/down/back and forth some, I routed some slots in the cake base. I made sure to make the slots on the outside of the gear arms so that the hand rods could not bounce toward the gearbox and jam it to stop the motor.
We couldn’t find a nice goldfish to use as Dorothy so we decided to make one. I used Sculpey clay that can be hardened in a home oven. Never used it before but I really quite liked it. Lili finished it up by painting it for me. I drilled a hole in the bottom and made a small wooden base with a matching hole. I connected the tow with a piece of lexan so that our Dorothy would look like she was swimming.
We added some rocks from the local playground and glued some cellophane along the top to simulate a water effect. I printed a picture of a birthday cake as well because she usually has the topic of interest in her bowl.
We made Elmo’s wall with foam core. Not much to it really. Just used Crayons to add the color and printed a picture of Mr. Noodles (actually the now passed Mr. Noodles as we don’t like the new Noodles).
We cut a yellow piece of fabric for the window and glued it on. The rest of the furniture was made from 5/8" MDF painted white and colored with Crayon. We had to make 4 cakes to get the cake high enough to match the scale of the piano. We ran some tests earlier to see if we could airbrush the piano and it turns out you can! This was my first time using the airbrush but given the kid style nature of Elmo’s World design it was just about impossible to mess up scribbles on a cake.
Elmo is sitting up due to another hanger wire going up his back and down into the stool. I also bent the wire at the neck so he is looking down. We went out and bought the Best of Elmo CD for background music and just played it on a regular CD player.
Everything turned out PERFECT! Good luck with your own Elmo cakes!