Art is… a piece of cake (Feats of Fantasy with Tiffany Flanagan)

Tiffany Flanagan’s sumptuous groom cake—a spellbinding dragon guarding his precious treasure of an ancient grimoire—deserves space in an art gallery, not the bellies of wedding guests. But this original creation is totally edible. The amber fire-breather is even fashioned from Rice Krispies® Treats.

Thankfully, I was able to feast my eyes on it before it was gobbled up and gulped, thus stirring my creative passions and the desire to seek out MORE Tiffany Flanagan, and maybe the story behind her art.

To my joy, I discovered a treasure trove of fantastical art and antiquities, curated by the inimitable Dr VonDrachen (more on her later), and Tiffany has been gracious enough to share with us today. After all, art inspires art, and artists inspire others.

I hope Tiffany’s story (and her breath-taking artwork) inspires you as much as she inspired me.

Create Bold. Write Bold. Live and Be Bold. Cheryse


Cheryse: Welcome, Tiffany. Your work is amazing! How long have you been an artist?

Tiffany: First, thank you so much for your kind words I am so happy you enjoy my work. Next, I have always been artistic, from a very young age. I always had a love for creating. I only really started applying what I loved when I opened up my own cake company about 8-10 years ago.

Cheryse: What do you think about when you create?

T: This will sound crazy but I think of nothing. I allow thoughts to come and go and I don’t hold onto any of them. It’s being in the flow, allowing the soul to take over and not think. Thinking just creates doubt.

C: What advice do you have for young people?

T: Never give up…with practice you can be good at anything! Even it is just a little bit at a time, over time you will just get better and better.

C: Tell me about your early years.

T: I grew up in Rhode Island. I enjoyed living in my beachfront cottage with my mom, dad and little sister. Every day, I would enjoy exploring the rocky coastline for treasures. In my late teens, I spent time with my highschool sweetheart Mike (who was also an artist) and my best girlfriend (who is still to this day my bestie).  My boyfriend and I used to take classes on how to swing dance and we would be the crowd favourite at dances.

C: What inspired you as a child? Do you have a favourite novel from your childhood?

T: I think what inspired me was my Father…he used to do these really cool doodles on scrap paper! As for a favourite novel, well, I loved the RL Stine collection and, when I was older, I picked up historical romance novels. Ha!!

C: Did the art inspire the cake making, or the cake making inspire the art?

T: Cake making came first. I had my own company for years then decided it would be better on my family to work for someone, so I did. I worked for a well-known company for years then got into a major car crash going in to work one day. I broke my back in many places and while recovering I discovered I loved working in polymer clay.

C: That would have been incredibly painful. Did art play a role in helping with your recovery?

T: Yes, art was one of my saving graces because when I created I would enter into the “flow”. This allowed my mind to focus on something besides the pain. I would also do a lot of meditation, this would help too. When I talk to people going through back surgery I tell them: be patient, the pain will be there and then it will slowly get better and better. To this day, I still suffer from pain but I do small amounts of yoga to help from stiffing up. Exercising helps a lot, too!

C: Do you feel sad when you design an amazing cake that you know will be eaten?

T: Yes, it’s an awful feeling to know your work is only here for a short period of time. To be honest that is why I work in clay these days. I know that it will last and last.

C: You sell your amazing art on the fabulous Dr VonDrachen’s Cabinet of Curiosities website and Etsy. Where did the idea of Dr VonDrachen, your curiosity explorer and adventurer, come from?

T: The good doctor is just an outlet to allow me to create anything in any medium, including writing.

C: What is the significance of her skull face?

T: It’s a mystery as to what she might look like. This allows the reader’s imagination to have her look or be anyone they want.

C: You have a fabulous Dr VonDrachen voice. Have you written any books yourself?

T: Haha, no. I really don’t think I am strong at writing but maybe it’s something I should exercise.

C: Yes, absolutely! Are you a horror or curiosity fan, or do you lean towards other spec fic sub-genres?

T: That’s hard because I love them all, but I guess these days I love more of the curiosity, fantasy side. I really don’t like lots of blood and guts or slasher films. They don’t inspire me.

C: Ditto. What is your favourite art ever created?

T: Sculpting. I love looking at marble statues. To this day, it boggles my mind as to how it was accomplished!!! ((Aliens))

C: What projects are you working on right now and what’s your inspiration?

T: My latest project is doll making. They are commissions and are fairy tale inspired. Also, talking of inspiration, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my two favourite cheerleaders: my amazing supportive husband of 15 years, Jeffrey, and my awesome son, Nolan. They bring out the best in me.

C: Does that mean your studio is neat or messy?

T: Messy.

C: What star sign are you? Are you a planner or a spur-of-the-moment girl?

T: I’m a Virgo. I kinda do both. It makes me feel good when I am organized but half the time my ADD kicks in and there is no stopping me from creating something.

C: If you could spend a day with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be?

T: Jim Henson, Tim Burton and George Harrison.

C: If you could have dinner with any three storybook or film characters (any galaxy, Wookies included), who would they be?

T: Hmmm, this is a good one. I would say Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful), Jareth (Labyrinth) and Mary Poppins.

C: Finally, a few quick questions: Cat or dog lover?  T: Cat.

C: What do you eat for breakfast?  T: Egg and Spinach.

C: Favourite shade of nail polish or gel?  T: Pink.

C: Favourite novel or TV series?   T: Ancient Aliens.

C: Name three special things you keep on your desk or in your studio?  T: Stickers from friends, artwork from my son and pictures.

C: What possession will you never-ever give up?  T: Art.

Cheryse: What gift do you never-ever want to be given?

Tiffany: Hmmm… the gift of seeing dead people.

Tiffany, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring thoughts and awesome art with my students and readers. Discovering your work at the start of this year has personally inspired me and I’m looking forward to seeing what new creations you have in store for us all in the future. Happy Rhode Island-ing and I hope the weather gets warmer soon! Cher

Postscript: In case you’re wondering, Tiffany sourced her text for the groom cake from an ancient spell book found beneath the floorboards in a villa on the former estate of the Abbé Bérenger Saunière, whose conspiracy theories surrounding the Rennes-le-Chateâu were later the inspiration behind Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. You can view copies of the original pages here.

Art and fantasy lovers (and everyone else!) can view Tiffany’s art at her Dr VonDrachen website, her Facebook page or Etsy.


Creepy coffee comes my way

Today’s coffee inspiration is compliments of Dr VonDrachen, aka the eminent artist Tiffany Flanagan of Rhode Island.

As soon as I sup this drink, I plan on creating something that never existed, but I’m not sure how many legs it will have.

Do you have a coffee mug that inspires you to explore or create in today’s (or yesterday’s) world? If so, email a photo of said mug with a short blurb to me, cheryse(at)quietdawn(dot)org, and I will share it with my readers.

Check out more of Dr VonDrachen’s fascinating finds at Dr VonDrachen’s Curiosities or Etsy.

A Wrinkle in Time at Bundaberg

A Wrinkle in Time 1Bundabergians wrinkled in style when they gathered at BRAG (our local regional arts gallery) on Wednesday night to discover how multimedia developer & artist Neil Jenkins created an online-based installation that paid homage to Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 children’s sci fi classic, A Wrinkle in Time.A Wrinkle in Time

The gallery was transformed into a cosy lounge room and the fascinating Mr Jenkins told how he was inspired by early computers at a young age, which has ultimately led to a lifetime working with them, in both commercial and art spheres. Mr Jenkins’ installation is on display in BRAG’s The Vault and features text from the novel, captured against a dark and stormy background.

I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was a young 12-year-old and, although I had forgotten the characters, I’d never forgotten this book’s magic, including Mrs Whosit’s endearing voice and the many concepts (at the top of the list: Tesseract wormholes and the fascinating new dimension of time) it embedded in my mind.

Cheryse Durrant, Neil Jenkins and Kallee BuchananLEFT: Here I am with artist Neil Jenkins and my old friend Kallee Buchanan (right) on the night. I wore a witch’s hat to pay tribute to one of the book’s characters, Mrs Which (Yes, that’s how her name is spelt!).

A Wrinkle in Time was the first of the Literary Notions series, spearheaded by exhibitions officer Trudie Leigo, which brings together some of Australia’s premiere contemporary installation artists, inspired by literature. In conjunction with the series, Bundy residents are able to read the associated work of literature that inspired each artist’s installation.

Upcoming Literary Notions events, running on a Wednesday night from 5.30pm unliterary notionstil 7pm,  include:

  • March 5: The Day of the Triffids & Alison McDonald
  • May 14: Long  Long Way & Fintan Magee
  • June 25: When The Rain Stops Falling & Hossein Valamanesh
  • August 20: Confessions of  Zeno & William Kentridge
  • October 20: Brothers Grimm fairytale (TBC) & Simone Eisler

For more information or to get involved, visit the Bundaberg Regional Arts Gallery (BRAG) in Barolin Street or telephone 4130 4750.

You can find out more about Mr Jenkins’ artwork HERE.