Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, art and the occasional rant!

Split cakes, again…


I honestly don’t know why using multi-colour cakes of face paint wasn’t made popular years ago… I know there are face painters who were using them for eons, but nobody really thought about putting it “out there” for the rest to think about.

I’ve always had split cakes in my palettes but that was more for the purpose of maximizing my colour selection in the least amount of space than for using them to double load my sponge or brush.  I did double load but never thought much about it as a technique.  I made small split cakes from leftover bits of my Kryolan palette – and carried them in my kit for many years, just didn’t make much use of them as they were fiddly and I like to work with a very neat table top.

I have always “double-dipped” to create petals and leaves using Fardel liquid paints.  And have occasionally considered using the liquids to load for traditional one-stroke but always decided not to bother – I have to use fresh brushes for each person and the waste paint I would have, considering how expensive it is for me to get liquid Fardel, just wasn’t worth it.

Many years ago I discovered Donna Dewberry and her “One Stroke” technique ( – I even painted a mural in the bathroom of our house (we since sold that house) using the technique to create sunflowers (turned out very nice!)  So I can’t say I never heard of or tried the techniques.  I just never really considered applying them to face painting in a big way.

I’ve been using rainbow cakes for a number of years and love them for fast rainbows and colourful butterflies, but, never really got into using them to create other things like crowns and fishes!

Credit for getting the one stroke technique out there for face painters in recent times and making it so popular at the moment in huge part is due to Rebecca Tonkovich (  She made herself small split cakes for loading her brush and created amazingly beautiful work using them.  She’s also been teaching workshops around the country and you can see how the technique is being adopted by artists around the world.

And why not?  It is fast and beautiful!

I hauled out my Donna Dewberry books and re-familiarized myself with the flower techniques.  I also bought a set of brushes selected for one-stroke painting and have to say they are really great to work with (yes, you can just buy them individually – large flat, filbert, angle, etc.)

I’ve been playing around and have “re-designed” some of my popular designs to utilize the split cake palettes I have made myself  and therefore reduced the amount of time those designs take to create.  Not that it took me THAT long the old way, but every 30 seconds I can knock off one face, means I can paint an extra face every 5 to 8 minutes!!  That makes a huge difference in keeping the line moving (and to your income if you are doing Pay-Per-Face!)

In order to make myself actually use the cakes I had to find a palette that I could set out on the table – I hate having loose cakes to deal with.  There are so many colour combinations that I wanted to be able to use that I needed something that would be the right size for loading brushes yet be compact and big enough to hold multiple cakes.  I was in Michael’s (when Anne was here – she and her mum LOVED Michael’s!!) and was lingering in the brush aisle (where else? 😉 ) when I saw this “Paint Saver” palette by Loew-Cornell ( – it is the first item on page 3) – it was hanging on a peg that said $3.69… I thought, WOW, that would be awesome for split cakes and took it.  When I went through the till it came up at $10 (apparently it was on the wrong peg) … but I still bought it.  The palette was designed for painters to use to keep their paints moist from session to session, a tray about an inch deep with a very tight fitting lid.  The lid was sectioned off into 10 parts of less than a half inch deep and approximately an inch wide to be used as a water-colour palette – perfect for brush loading!!  The whole tray is about half the size of a Snazaroo Jumbo Palette.

If you decide you like using split cakes I would have to say creating your own palette like this is the way to go! 

My Split Cake Palette

My Split Cake Palette


3 thoughts on “Split cakes, again…

  1. that does help! thanks!

  2. I haven’t got one right now but it is a really low-tech process…

    I get a suitable container to put the new split cake in and then take a steak knife and cut out strips of cakes in the colours I want. Sometimes I use up the bits left in the bottom of used up cakes – those I dig out and smoosh into the shape I want… lay them on plastic wrap and do the smooshing inside the plastic. If the cake is really dry add a drop of water.

    Some brands are easier to cut than others… and new cakes are also moister and easier to cut. If a cake crumbles just take enough pieces to make the stripe of colour you want to make and do the smooshing thing as above.

    Then place them in the container in the order you want and push up tight against each other, and then press them all down hard. Lay plastic or a paper towel on top to do this.

    If the top is a bit rough I use a wet brush to smooth out the top. If the cakes are damp I let them air dry before covering and putting away.

    I am planning to eventually get some photos of the process… but hope this will help in the meantime.

  3. I have been wanting to make my own split cakes like this, but am wary. Could you post a step by step of how you are doing it??

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