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Bird Rock Elementary student cakes on display

When it comes to art projects, this one takes the cake.

But that was, after all, the goal of Alyson Blum’s fifth-grade Bird Rock Elementary art class. Their depictions of extravagant and expensive cakes are now on display at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters for all to see. In a tribute to Bay Area artist Wayne Thiebaud, famous for creating pictures of delicious desserts, the class used oil pastels to create the cakes of their wildest imagination.

“They were thrilled to be doing cakes,” Blum said. “It’s very approachable — everybody is familiar with what cakes look like and how spectacular they can be.”

The pastel drawings take up two inner walls of the coffee shop. The flavors, shapes and sizes are not only diverse, but presented a unique task to Blum’s students.

“They had the choice of either drawing a one-level cake, a multitiered cake and, even more complicated, depicting a cake that had a slice taken out,” Blum said. “The challenge is that you’re dealing with the external shape, which you’re using the ellipse for, and then you’re dealing with something inside of the cake, and depending on where you take the slice out, those angles are going to differ.”

It was a method 1960s artist Thiebaud employed time and again. Blum introduced the assignment not only to teach students about the painter, but also to give them examples of drawing circular objects and ellipses in perspective.

“It went really, really well,” Blum said. “The bottom line is they all felt very successful with their work and with their cakes, and that’s one of the integral parts of them doing art at this grade level.”

When asked if students were rewarded with edible pastries upon completing the assignment, Blum said: “We didn’t have time for cake afterwards, but I know the kids had cake on their minds.”