A few months back, I asked the DTC community for inspiration on what I should experiment with next. Let me tell you, all of you had tons of fantastic ideas! Over 100 suggestions came in and boy was I inspired! Of those suggestions, the most requested was for textures – specifically, textures of rocks and stones.
There are many types of rocks and stones with various different textures. I fell down a rabbit hole of research looking at rock types, how they’re formed, and what they’re used for. Although the terms are colloquially used interchangeably, there’s a slight difference between rock and stone. Stone is smaller than rock. And rock is composed of stone and mineral matter. For example, the stone that makes up countertops in interior design was cut from larger rock.
Rocks are divided into three major classes: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Igneous rocks are created when magma cools and solidifies. Sedimentary rocks are usually formed when rock or mineral particles settle from precipitation. Igneous and sedimentary rock become metamorphic when they get changed by heat, pressure, or a chemical reaction. This change can create entirely new shapes, sizes, or even change the chemical composition of the original rock completely.
With so many varieties of rocks and stones and each one having a unique look and texture, I had a lot to choose from. I managed to narrow it down to three.
Here are three examples of how to incorporate rock and stone textures into your contemporary buttercream cake designs.
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Sandstone is a sedimentary rock most recognisable by its several layers. It’s formed when layers of sand become compacted together. As pressure increases on these layers, the sand is heated and compressed. Hot water carries in other minerals that crystallise around the sand and cement them together creating sandstone’s many layers.
Just as in natural sandstone, sandstone buttercream textures are extremely versatile, and no two patterns are ever the same. As the name suggests, this technique borrows inspiration from the beautiful layers and colours of sandstones specifically, as well as sedimentary rocks in general.
To create the colours in this sandstone buttercream cake, I used black, orange and green. These are the colours I had on hand to create brown however, you can also use red, yellow, blue and black to achieve a similar colour palette. Colour Mill has a range of beautiful shades that will work like a dream for this technique. On the right, is the finished sandstone buttercream cake with two tiers and a fried rice paper sail in a complementing maroon colour.
Here, instead of natural sandstone colours, the same technique is used for a monochromatic colour scheme. Using such contrasting colours like black and white really allows the layering effect of the sandstone buttercream to be seen. The colour scheme gives the cake a moody, almost formal feel but the bright pop of colour on the rice paper sail is a brilliant, vivid contrast that immediately draws in the eye.
For this sandstone buttercream cake, the natural colour palette of sandstone is completely forgotten. Instead, the sandstone technique is used with shades of blue, pink, and purple to give the cake under the sea or ocean vibes. The beautiful rice paper sail was dyed in matching colours before frying and lightly dusted with gold along the edges.
Here are some more cakes using our unique sandstone buttercream techniques.
As you’ve seen, just because this technique is inspired by rocks and stones doesn’t mean that you can only use it when a cake design calls for this exact theme eg. The groom is a geologist (lol). Likewise, it doesn’t mean that you have to stick to a realistic sandstone colour palette either. I always encourage my students to think outside of the box and to figure out how else they can use a technique for more than one style. What we’re doing here is merely borrowing inspirations from the element. Where you take that inspiration is entirely up to you.
Beach Stone Buttercream
The beach stone buttercream textures borrow inspiration from, you guessed it, beautiful stones at the beach. Beaches are one of the best places to find really interesting rocks and stones. The types of rocks that you find on a particular beach depends greatly on the geological history of the area. They can literally show the history of the landscape that they’re in!
I absolutely love the organic aesthetic of this technique. I also adored mixing earthy, natural colours for the buttercream. What I love about the beach stones technique is that it gives the illusion of multiple stones piled together. Each stone is a different colour and shows a slightly different rock texture. However, as with any other technique in the rocks and stones series, you are not limited by the name of the technique as to what you can and can’t apply it to. Think outside the box, take risks, and have FUN incorporating this technique into unusual designs.
When I created this cake, all I had was a mental image of beach stones piled together and the idea of crashing waves around it. It took a couple of tries to really get that mental image onto the cake. The final cake shown on the right has the beach stones bottom tier with a second tier in neutral tones like wet sand. A fried rice paper sail is almost like a fan of coral attached to the cake and a clear isomalt bowl sail adds the motion of crashing waves.
This cake shows another iteration of the beach stone buttercream technique. However, instead of going for a really natural colour palette, the same colour scheme is used but in brighter, more vibrant shades. The effect of stones is still the same but by changing the vividness of the colours, the vibe of the cake changes slightly. It’s a bit more playful and fun instead of strictly natural and organic.
Here’s another cake using our beach stone buttercream techniques, in a different colour palette.
Marble buttercream borrows inspiration from, of course, marble stones. Marble is formed when limestone undergoes metamorphism. Limestone is primarily composed of the mineral calcite which when heated and put under pressure, recrystallises to a different texture. The beauty about this stone though is that it comes in so many different styles, patterns, and colours, so your source of inspiration is really limitless.
Marble buttercream techniques are very popular in modern cake decorating right now. However, I didn’t want to do what’s been done before. After all, what’s the point of experimenting when you don’t try something new?
This single-tiered cake uses the marble buttercream technique in shades of black and white. The signature grains and lines of marble can be seen in the swirling pattern helping to evoke the feel and look of a raging storm or hurricane. On top of the cake is a signature DTC marbled chocolate bowl sail. A matching black and white marble cake stand completes the look.
Although pink is a naturally occurring colour in marble, it’s always a bit of fun to play with the brightness of colours when you’re experimenting with cake decorating. This strikingly pink marbled cake with a matching pink fried rice paper sail is fun and playful and is a great example of how adaptable the rock and stone buttercream techniques can be for any event.
Here’s another cake incorporating THREE marble buttercream techniques, as well as fried rice paper sails and wafer paper lace.
These are just three examples of how to incorporate rock and stone textures into your contemporary cake designs and is only the beginning of my experimentation with rock and stone techniques. There are more in this series, so be sure to follow us on Instagram to see them!
If you’re interested in learning any of the techniques shown above, we are currently working on our brand new Rocks & Stones Buttercream Textures course where we’ll show you exactly how to achieve these new looks and more as well as how to create fried rice paper decorations.
Join our waitlist below to sign up for course updates.