Friday, December 28, 2012

Craftsy Class Review- Fondant Frills

This Fondant Frills class was the one by Maggie Austin, whose ruffle cakes made that trend take off last year. I've done a bunch of ruffle cakes but I was curious about why the class description kept talking about her magical secret method or whatever it was to do the ruffles.

The thing about the way that she does this type of design is that it's really uneven and raggedy, which I'm not a huge fan of. I think that having a background in sewing has put the desire to sew even rows into my soul, so to have the frills and ruffles going everywhere in an uneven manner isn't really my bag, baby. So the ruffle cakes that I do are more evenly arranged, as opposed to her method, which results in a really thick layer of ragged rows.

Having said that, I was still interested in seeing how she does it, so let's move on to the video. It was pretty basic, not a lot of new information for me, to tell the truth.

There were sections on how to knead fondant. Very long sections. Also an entire lesson on how to make gumpaste with scintillating shots of a mixer beating the gumpaste. And a section on how to color the ruffles which involved how to put petal dust on a paintbrush. So although this all would have been good for total beginners and gumpaste noobs, it felt like there was a lot of filler if you're more experienced in those areas. The covering of the cakes themselves isn't complicated, so it looks like they had to add a lot of extras to make the class long enough.

I also have a gripe with some of her answers on the questions that people have asked. Specifically, whether you can do this on a buttercream cake. Of course you can, but she says the frills would just slide off. No, they wouldn't, because they kind of end up being stuck to each other and forming a solid blanket of fondant. A couple of people have said that they did the cake using buttercream but she still replies that you can't do it. Uh, yes, you can. So relax.

So here are my ratings:
Skill level necessary: beginner
Equipment You Have To Have: KA paste roller or something else that will roll fondant really thin.
Check the material list before you  buy this class, but without the roller it's going to be pretty difficult.
Sleep-Inducing Level:  Fairly low, but I skipped through a lot and the other parts kept me awake because I kept getting irritated that she was doing things in such an unnecessarily complicated way.
What it Assumes You Already Know: How to cover a cake with fondant. Her method uses a fondant-covered cake and won't work with buttercream. Well, it could, but it would be a lot more difficult.
Unnecessary Difficulty of Methods Demonstrated: Mid-level...At one point she made a special tool to separate the frills when she could have just used a popsicle stick, spoon, or a toothpick for pete's sake. Also some unnecessary weighing of fondant when eyeballing it would work fine.
Annoying Host Habits: She seemed nervous, but went really slow too. That would be good for some people but I wanted to pick up the pace a little. Other than that, not too annoying.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: Low, but I've also done a bunch of ruffly cakes already. If you've never done one this is one way to do them, but it isn't the way I'd recommend since it looks so messy. If you love the look, it's worth watching. If you've never made gumpaste there's that section that could be useful.
Final Verdict: Good on sale or for curiosity's sake. Better for beginners, but at the same time there are neater ways to do ruffles, so this might not be the best way to learn to do them. Depends on what look you're going for.

(FYI- watching Craftsy classes on a PC allows you to see the questions that have been asked by other students. Mobile devices don't always show those.)

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


Pam Doyle said...

I think you are way to harsh in your review LOL People that purchase this are looking to do "Maggie Austin" style ruffles - not generic style ruffles, personally I LOVE how Maggie has given old fashioned ruffles an UPDATE - I know there were a lot of decoraters who had the same AHA moment when they saw her producing ruffles with a vertical stroke instead of that tedious horizontal back and forth motion - THAT in itself was worth the money for me!!

Kara Buntin said...

Hey, what's up, Pam? I had a feeling you'd comment, haha! I don't like the messy look as much as something more ruffly and orderly. Her ruffles are more torn edges than ruffles, so the pulling of it made sense as to how they turned out that way, but I know a lot of people who aren't fans of the messy look. It might have sounded harsh but I'm going to be truthful about my opinin, haha! The people I know who bought this particular tutorial were more curious about seeing what the big deal was with the "secret" technique Craftsy was advertising than wanting to do the same thing. I do think this class was way too full of filler, because let's face it, there's not a lot to this particular technique. And if you think this review was harsh just wait for some of the other ones, because I thought I was pretty generous on this one! ;) Feel free to argue with me on future ones to give another perspective!

Pam Doyle said...

Hey Kara, not looking to have an argument sweets - just providing some 'balance' hehe

I guess we were going to be at opposing poles from the start because I LOVE Maggie's style of ruffles - so fine that they do resemble torn tissue.

The Craftsy class for me just represented fantastic VALUE - the VERY week that it was released, Maggie Austin was in Melbourne Australia teaching EXACTLY the same content as a 'hands on' class for over $1,000 - so $24 for me was a bargain!!

Kara Buntin said...

Let's fight! I can come to Australia and we can punch each other out over this super-important issue! We need to keep this all in one place because I just answered you on facebook again, haha!

To recap, I totally agree that the cost of the online courses is much better than paying for an in-person class. Also on board with the idea taht you can keep disagreeing as much as you want becasue it's good to have some differeing opinions to let people make up their own minds.

I knew that this review would lure you out to comment, because I seemed to remember that you liked that kind of look. I think you commented on the Craftsy site too?? Feel free to keep watching for more reviews...heh heh

Anna said...

I can't wait for you to review joshua John Russel.classes. Um, annoying host habit? How about shaking all the tools at the camera? You will see some of my comments, for sure! There are some sleep inducing mixing of buttercream for 3 hours on end, as well. (At least it felt like 3 hours, may have been even longer lol )

Please YouTube it when you guys punch each other in the nose over favorite style of ruffle, that will be rich!

Eva Farragher said...

I've bought a few of Craftsy's classes but not this one.

Seriously, Pam, you're saying she pulls the ruffle vertically instead of horizontally to get the ruffle effect of fine torn tissue? That's it?

Glad I wasn't paying $1000 for that in Melbourne, LOL! But like Kara's, I've done quite a few different kinds of ruffle cakes so I wasn't that keen to replicate this style when I could have worked it out.

Kara, I'd like to see more advanced classes too. Or a better rating system. There's only so many times you can watch a person knead fondant or colour gum paste :-)

I appreciate your honest reviews!!


Rachel said...

Hey gals thanks for the review of the Craftsy class. I've only taken one class and it was the free one-only to see what the class structure was like. (I may or may not have fallen asleep.) Anyway, I appreciate that you reviewed the class and shared a reasonable balanced perspective I find helpful in making a decision on whether to buy it or not. Keep up the good work on your blog. I always enjoy reading it.

Cat Garcia said...

100% money back guarantee.

Kara Buntin said...

Excellent point...on the other hand, I personally wouldn't ask for a refund unless the class was so abysmal that I felt it was totally useless. Since you can usually pick SOMETHING up, that's unlikely. So I'll stick to buying them on sale.

Jamie said...

I had a thought while reading this about the madhatter class I took in person a few months back. Had that class been on video instead of hands on, there would have been many area I would have skipped ahead on and probably been bored with. However, being hands on and in the presence of a teacher and other students, the chit chat and side conversations and stopping to admire another's work filled the time and it made it all enjoyable.

Perhaps the creators of these instructable videos feel it necessary to jam in just as much as an in person class would provide? I'm not sure how to explain myself correctly, but it's not necessary to try that. If I made a class on even the most complicated technique I can think of, it would still be very short. And it would not include kneading fondant or mixing GP. If you don't know how to do that yet, then you need to class specifically for that.

Kara Buntin said...

Yeah, Jamie, I think you're right. What they SHOULD do (but nobody's asking me) is to have some basic skills classes free on there, then they could say which ones of those you need to watch before the particular class. That way if you don't know that stuff you don't have to pay for it AGAIN, since most of the classes I've watched have at least a couple of sections that include that info. Then they could charge a little less for the shorter, yet meatier classes, and people might be willing to buy more at a lower price. If they had skipped half the stuff in the ruffle class and just charged $10 for the meatof the class they'd probably be able to get more people willing to pay the fee.

Ultimate Cake said...

I hated this class. I purchased this and a Nick Lodge class on the black Friday sale. First Craftsy classes ever! I watched the NL one first and he is so confident and VERY thorough. I was really pleased with his class.

Then this hot mess of a class. I still can't believe I sat there for forty minutes watching Olive Oyl colour sugarpaste. Seriously. She was very nervous and it showed - terrible instructor - hope she's much better IRL! She made everything so difficult and used so much wrong terminology, AND stuck wires directly in the cake instead of using a straw or flower pick. She kept calling the petals "him" and "this guy" and it drove me crazy. AND she "massaged" the paste instead of kneading it. Really? Massage the paste. Every time she said that I wanted to scream.

I could go on and on with my complaints about this class and the instructor, but I'll spare the reader.

Kara Buntin said...

Yes...Nic Lodge is an excellent instructor, I've watched a few of his classes and he gives you more info in ten minutes than most of the newer instructors give you in the whole class.