Saturday, November 17, 2012
Despite needing to unpack all those boxes and get my home in some semblance of order, I needed to get going with setting up the business and preparing for my final show of the year, Cake International at Birmingham. So on the 29th of October I took the hygiene exam required by law for anyone working with food in any capacity in Finland. Happily I passed with flying colours!
Let me tell you, flying with a wedding cake, even if it is made from styrofoam is unmitigated hell! What on earth posessed me to decide to not only have a glass separator, but also a heavy glass cake stand?! So I had the cake packed in individual boxes with each waterlily individually wrapped in another box, my big camera, my laptop (seriously dumb!) in hand baggage. I managed to stuff my little handbag in my laptop bag, but even so, it all weighed a ton. Then I had a big suitcase as I had packed all sorts of goodies for my daughters. Still, going there was just about OK, although my poor arm with tennis elbow suffered quite a bit.
Having never been to Cake International before, I was in for a bit of a shock, as it were. Glancing around at my fellow competitors as I was setting up my cake I suddenly felt completely out of my depth. The standard was so very high! it seemed each masterpiece was better than the last. It was as if I had gone to see some decorated easter eggs, only to be surrounded by Faberge eggs, each and every one exquisite. I was shaking so hard with nerves that one of the stewards took pity on me and helped me carry my cake to it's designated table.
Despite my nerves I ended up getting completely caught up in the moment. So much to see! So much to learn! So many cakes celebs! So much to buy! I attended demonstrations by Alan Dunn, Debbie Brown and Tombi Peck. I got to shake hands with Eddie Spence, the undisputed king of royal icing, Christine Flinn, the queen of royal icing, Carlos Litschetti, a wonderfully talented sugar artist from south America. He will send me a signed copy of his new book! There were so many talented faces there and I tried to have a word with as many as I could. The consummate groupie!
Saturday was spent driving all the way up to Newcastle to see my daughters. Mad in a way as I spent nearly 8 hours behind the wheel in order to spend 5 - 6 hours with them. But of course it was worth it!! We had a lovely time together. Such a happy day!
On Sunday I was almost too nervous to check my cake to see how I had fared. Honestly, I didn't expect anything at all, but after all that hard work and effort, I still wished for something..... So I was ridiculously happy when I saw the certificate of Merit by my cake! I cornered the judge for some constructive feedback and she was awesome. She managed to point out all the places where I lost points while being incredibly kind and supportive at the same time. She gave me valuable tips for improvement and praised my design. So now I know what to do the next time......
Now I'm done with competitions for a while. Time to focus on my business. I'll save the news on my progress for the next post, but please check out my business page on facebook for more pics from Birmingham and news on the status of my business. Just click on The Art of Cakes tab on the upper right side of this blog.
Posted by Sonja at 23:03
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Needless to say it has been a hectic few months. My husband and I did the impossible and in only 6 weeks found and purchased our dream home in a sleepy, seaside town just outside the capital city of Finland. The next step was rather unorthodox; instead of moving the whole family to Finland, we found a new, smaller home for my hubby in Germany and I moved here to Finland on my own. The reasons for this are all very pragmatic. Simply stated, somebody has to pay the bills while I start my new venture, so my hubby decided it was wiser for him not to quit his day job quite yet. In time we will be reunited, but for now we are doing the long distance option.
On route to Finland I stopped off at Hamburg for the weekend to attend, and compete in the Hamburg Tortenshow. I didn't really know what to expect as I had heard this show is very much smaller than the shows at Birmingham and Telford in England. With all the hassle of moving I was left with only 3,5 days to prepare my competition piece. The schedule stated that I had to prepare a floral arrangement with a minimum of 4 different kinds of flowers and a minimum of three of each. This meant at least 12 flowers and foliage to boot!
Having set up my flowers at the competition site, I took a quick survey of the other flowers and figured I was around middle of the group in standard, so I'd be lucky to get silver. Imagine my surprise when I won not only gold, but best in class!!!!!
So it was in high spirits that I continued my journey to Finland by ship. Having rained steadily since I arrived last Wednesday I have effectively been brought back down to earth. My days have been spent unpacking boxes, cleaning my new home and trying to make sense of all the chaos.
Then it is time to start cutting through all the red tape to start the cake business. First step is to take....and pass the hygiene exam so that I can work legally with food. Next step is to complete my business plan so that I can apply for a start up grant. Then it's time to register the company and apply for a business loan. Last, but not necessarily final step is to find premises from where I can bake, as it is not possible to bake from home commercially in this country.
Lots of things to consider, much to do, but it's all very exciting! Watch this page for future developments!
Posted by Sonja at 17:06
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Saturday was spent enjoying the show, attending demo's by well known sugar artists and shopping. It was also spent awaiting the judges' decisions. Finally, at 3:45pm, after a demo, I came back into the show hall to see my exhibit had been marked SILVER!!!!!! Much, much better than I had expected, so I was over the moon!!!! Later on in the weekend, I had an opportunity to speak to the judges, and they all said the palm leaf detracted from the arrangements and I lost valuable points because of it. Well, you live and learn!
In the above picture you can get an idea of how he would have looked, despite having only one (damaged) wing and half the tail feathers. The other wing was damaged beyond all repair and couldn't be attached at all.
In this picture you can see just about the only parts of the cake that WEREN'T damaged. OK, I had forgottten the talons at home and had to remake them at the hotel. The hotel proprietor was such an angel, allowing me to work all day in the breakfast room and providing me with free cups of tea. Still, in the early hours of Saturday morning I had to admit that this project was not going to make it. I had spent probably close to 60 hours all told on this exhibit, including three versions of the body and two versions of the wings, and of course two sets of talons. I was very sad about it all, and it was gut-wrenching to throw the whole thing away on Sunday. There didn't seem to be any point in taking back something so damaged.
Winning silver did make up for a lot of the disappointment, and there will be future shows where I can try again!
Another highlight was finally meeting a cake lady I had befriended via Flickr and eventually Facebook. Cakes aside we have sooo much in common that when we finally sat down for lunch together, it felt as if I had always known her! Sarah Russell owns "Emily Had a Wish" and makes such incredibly imaginative and usually amusing cakes. All her cakes tell a story and I am a big fan of her work!
In closing, BSG International was a wonderful experience with both highs and lows for me, and I am already planning for the next competition!!! I made some valuable contacts, made new friends and learned so very much.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Then I bit the bullet and tried brush embroidery on the middle tier. I admit I have tried this once before, but the results were so dismal that I never photographed it. This time it came out better, but is clearly something I need to practice a lot more! I liked the way the blossoms came out, but next time I will leave out the vines. It made the whole thing look a bit clumsy in my mind.
Next on the list is something romantic for Valentine's Day. Orders are picking up, so hopefully I will have time to create something:)
Thanks for stopping by!
Posted by Sonja at 16:19