To make the bucket, start out by choosing your cake pan size - we made this one from 14" rounds, stacked 4-5 layers high. Dirty ice it with blue buttercream (add food coloring gel a few drops at a time until you get the desired color). Stick it in the fridge to help the buttercream firm up.
Make the bucket slats by rolling out brown fondant (again, knead the food color gel in a few drops at a time) and cutting them into strips. To make the woodgrain look, you can either stop kneading the color into the fondant while there are still dark swirls in it, or you can paint brown food coloring straight onto the fondant using visible brushstrokes - both ways work, but I personally think leaving swirls in the fondant is much quicker and easier. Leave these strips laying flat to dry - this could take hours to days depending on how thick your fondant is, so you can do this ahead of time!
Once the slats are dry, press them against the sides of the dirty-iced cake. Make sure the room your working in isn't too hot (like from the heat of your oven...) or the buttercream can melt, and the fondant can sag. Not pretty, and a pain in the patootie to fix...
Make a batch of brown fondant that is a few shades darker than the bucket slats. Roll this out into long strips to wrap around the top and bottom of your bucket. You can add detail work like screws or rivets (or whatever hardware buckets have...) out of this same color fondant.
Using a grass tip, pipe green buttercream all around the bottom of your bucket. If you want, you can add some flowers (we added several little daisies) made from fondant or chocolate (which tastes way better! :) )
Now it's time to add the bubbles. The big bubbles are gumballs, and the little bubbles are Sixlets - we found them at a party supply store, or they can also be purchased online. We used blue and white bubbles, but you could use one color, or multiple shades of blue - whatever you think looks best! The rubber duck on the top of the cake is a real rubber duck - you could make an edible one, but we thought it was a cute little keepsake to use a real one. We also served cupcakes alongside this cake (unfortunately, I don't have pictures of those) frosted in the same shade of blue buttercream and topped with a mini rubber duck and a few tiny bubbles. They ended up looking really cute!
Finally, add a few more bubbles on the grass if you want to make it look like the bucket has overflowed/spilled. If you want, you can personalize a few baby items (like a baby blanket) using fondant or modeling chocolate.
This cake could easily be altered for occasions other than baby showers simply by creating different accents. Use your imagination and have fun with it!