Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Color Washes Using Vodka Instead Of Everclear.

In the Craftsy class I just reviewed one of the responses about color washes on gold leaf was that you shouldn't do it with vodka. I didn't see why not, so I tried it. Then Eva commented on the post about people doing washes with vodka all the time, which made more sense to me. So here's the result of my little experiment.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and is a Craftsy affiliate.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Craftsy Class Review-- Layered Embellishments: 12 Stunning Techniques

This review contains affiliate links, but the opinions are 100% mine.

Layered Embellishments: 12 Stunning Techniques was taught by Faye Cahill, who does cakes that involve a lot of gold and silver. The class covers a lot of techniques that involve gold and silver leaf and metallic paints.

This is a timely topic, since metallics are trendy and decorators are putting metallic paints where they shouldn't be. If it's shiny, be really careful about making sure the paints that you're using are edible. For silver and gold leaf, make sure they're food grade. The gold leaf that you buy at the craft store in the metalwork section are NOT food grade, and that isn't what you should be putting on cakes.

I order my gold leaf from www.lagoldleaf.com. They have an edibles section, and that's what you should use on cakes. 

I'll say right off that there's some bad advice about using alcohols in the questions section of this class. She uses everclear as the base for her color washes because its high alcohol content evaporates and doesn't affect the gold very much. Everclear isn't legal everywhere because of the high alcohol content, but that doesn't mean that anything with a high percentage of alcohol is a good substitute. Isopropyl alcohol and methylated spirits that you get at the grocery store are NOT food safe, they're poison. So don't use those on a cake, for pete's sake. 

Just make sure that everything you use is edible and FDA approved and you'll be fine. The brand of gold dust that she uses is Rolkem, which is labelled as edible as a food coloring, but it's from South Africa, so I don't know if it's FDA approved. Just don't use regular gold spray paint to cover a cake. Really.

Now that I've said that, I will comment on the class itself...It was very educational. If you've never used gold leaf before this will show you how in excruciating detail. The only thing that I'd say is that she roughs the surface up to get a specific look to it, and when you apply gold leaf on a normal day that isn't what you want it to look like. But the idea of using color washes over it is really interesting, and it gives you a really pretty effect. 

She also goes over things like royal icing piping, painting the metallics on, stencilling and that edible lace junk that I think probably tastes like rubber. I'd pipe it on, but that's me.

There were a lot of tips to pick up in the class, and it will give you some ideas about stretching your skill set a little if you've never worked with gold leaf, and if you have it will make you not be as scared of it once it's on the cake.

My final review:

Skill level: Intermediate at least. A beginner is going to have some trouble.
Equipment you have to have: Edible metal leaf and paints, royal icing, paintbrushes, etc.
Sleep-inducing level: Stock up on your caffeine, this isn't the liveliest of classes. Watching someone paint color washes is pretty deadly.
What it assumes you already know: How to cover a cake with fondant.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Not much, it's actually not stuff that's super hard to do, it just looks fancy.
Annoying Host Habits: Nothing much but she goes really slow, which makes me antsy.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: You'll learn something whether or not you've used gold leaf before.

Go here for the class: Layered Embellishments

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and is a Craftsy affiliate.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Better Way To Make Edible Glitter

More edible glitter news...cornstarch makes it shinier.

Here's the video and a link to the recipe:

Recipe for edible glitter: Click here (this is an affiliate link)

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Monday, February 23, 2015

Craftsy Class Review: Simple Skills for Dramatic Designs

This review contains affiliate links, but the opinions are 100% mine.

Simple Skills For Dramatic Designs was taught by Alexandria Pellegrino of Cake Opera in Toronto. her designs are known for being opulent, over-the-top, and gilded. She has a very distinct style, and after watching this class I went to look her up.

Turns out that she was a trained artist before starting to decorate cakes. She did some of her training in Europe, which makes sense since her decorating style is very Versailles, if you know what I mean.

The class covered the basics of how she does her designs, and it really is simple to do them. She goes through using stencils, molds, stamping, and painting the gilded accents, which are all pretty basic. Her cakes aren't simple looking, though, and that relates to the two thing that are problematic with the class. Neither of which has anything to do with the content of the class itself.

First, she has a very distinct style that's pretty identifiable. That's because it's HER style. I predict a ton of copycat-style cakes coming from this class, since the questions that people were asking were pretty much "give me the exact name of the exact items that you use to make that exact design." That isn't art, it's art forgery. So take the tips she gives you and develop your own designs. Use a different mold...Use different colors...Put your own style into it, don't just copy hers.
Second, because she's an artist first, she works really fast and she has the ability to paint without having to have a paint by number approach. People who take this class who can't paint will have some trouble doing that part of it, because you can't give someone a step-by-step approach for freehand painting.

She adapts some of her methods for people who can't paint, like using a stencil. Someone posted a question about making a stencil, and her answer was that she freehands everything but made a stencil for the class to allow people who can't do that to make the design. So just remember that you need to take the content of the class, learn from  it, then go out and try to be creative instead of just copying what she does exactly.

Another thing that she says in the class is that she's using 24 Karat gold to paint on the gumpaste accents, but in the questions she clarifies that she THOUGHT it was 24K gold, but it isn't. So don't go looking for 24K gold to paint with unless you want to pay through the nose for it.

And the Craftsy student obsession with everything on the cake being totally edible is getting more ridiculous, since people are questioning using gumpaste as a decoration. Relax, you can peel that off if you don't like chewing, and it's made of the same stuff as fondant without glycerine etc. So it's edible but not delicious. Whatever.

This class was interesting mainly because her cakes are so identifiable, and very pretty, so there's the curiosity factor of "how does she make them."  The methods she uses are very straightforward and wouldn't be hard to a beginner to follow other than the hand-painting part.

My final review:

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate
Equipment you have to have: Gold dust for painting, molds for trim and exacto knives, stamps and stencils.
Sleep-inducing level: Not too bad.
What it assumes you already know: How to cover a cake with fondant.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: She did a few things that were kind of weird...For example, when you use a silicone putty to make a mold, slapping it won't make air bubbles release, that's a different kind of silicone. So no need to spank the molds.
Annoying Host Habits: Not much, but she says "actually" a lot. And now that I pointed that out you'll notice it, you're welcome.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: I liked the way that she shows how to adapt things like a simple mold into multiple shapes, and the methods that she uses are versatile enough to apply to a lot of different designs (that you come up with on your own.)

Go here for the class: Simple Skills for Dramatic Designs

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and is a Craftsy affiliate.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Little Wedding Cake

This wedding cake is a good example of how a cake doesn't have to be huge to be pretty. For this intimate reception the bride wanted something simple, so I did a traditional dot pattern on the tiers and kept the decoration to a minimum. The gumpaste gardenia was the focal point and the leaves were the only color on the cake.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA.