Monday, January 21, 2013

Craftsy Class Review- Handcrafted Sugar Flowers

Online Cake Decorating ClassNext in our Craftsy class review series...Handcrafted Sugar Flowers. Let me start by saying that I have plenty of gumpaste experience and I just bought this course out of curiosity, I didn't expect to learn anything. So I wasn't disappointed, since it's definitely for beginners.

(Let me offer this caveat, before I get started: Her hydrangeas are kind of stylized, if that makes sense. After seeing the order that she does the steps in I understand why, but I have a pet peeve about being able to see the inside parts of where the cutter splits out into the petals in the center. Real hydrangeas have four separate petals, they're not one solid piece, so when the flowers look like one piece cut out I just don't like them as much. When I make them I make an effort to get rid of that one-piece look, so that's just my preference.)

So, to begin...Jacqueline Butler taught this course, and as we all know, she makes peonies. Lots and lots of peonies. So I figured that there would be at least one peony in the flower bunch. But nooooooo. This course teaches you to make hydrangeas and pinch flowers. Oh, and buds and a couple of leaves.

So I was a little peeved because I wanted to at least see how someone else does peonies, but oh well, you can always learn something, right? Turns out that isn't always true. This class was good for someone who's never seen gumpaste before, or for someone who has tried it and failed miserably, but if you have any experience making hydrangeas and are able to make flowers faster than one every five minutes, this might not be for you. The techniques in the video were very basic, so if you know the basics you probably won't be learning a whole lot.

The good thing about this class was that the camera let you see what she was doing, and she took her time to do it. The bad thing was that she took her time... I actually fell asleep a few times and had to rewind. I know that she must work faster when she's doing flowers on her own, but this was deadly.

The methods that she uses to make her flowers are painfully slow. Any time you have to pick up an extra tool you decrease your efficiency, and there were lots of tools picked up. For example, for the pinch flowers you were told to make them in the basic way, then to use a ball tool also. The ball tool is totally unnecessary if you just PINCH them the right way. That's why they're called PINCH flowers.

The section where she makes the leaves just about killed me. The gumpaste classes on Craftsy all seem to use the groove boards for wiring the flowers, which is the traditional way to do it, but it's a slow way to do it, too. For a faster way that I use go here: Wiring Gumpaste The Quick Way.

Having said that, the class would be good for someone who was just learning gumpaste and wanted to get some very basic basics. This class really did stretch it out with entire sections on how to make the gumpaste, a section on how to color the gumpaste, and about a ten-minute (well, it felt that long) demo on how to wrap the gumpaste up in plastic to store it. That would be good if you were a complete beginner because it covered a lot of basic information.

So, my overall rating:
Skill level necessary: best for gumpaste noobs.
Equipment You Have To Have: Rolling pin, floral wire, veiners and cutters. 
Sleep-Inducing Level: This was the cure for my insomnia. The pace was slow, and for myself the material wasn't interesting enough to prevent me from nodding off. Someone with less gumpaste experience might not have the same reaction, but I'm using this for the next time I have trouble falling asleep at night.
What it Assumes You Already Know: Not much.
Unnecessary Difficulty of Methods Demonstrated: She used very basic techniques, so not much of that, but too many extra tools were used when they weren't needed.
Annoying Host Habits: Her voice does that thing where it goes up at the end of every sentence and makes everything sound like a question. It reminded me of a pesty girl who used to come around to our house meetings in college and ask us to sign a million petitions every week. "I have a petitION??? Will you sign IT??? It's a good petitION???" So it has nothing to do with the video, but I just kept thinking of that annoying girl.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: Zero for me, but for someone with no experience it would be very helpful to get the basics.

Final Verdict: Pass on this one if you know how to make and color hydrangeas, but if you're a gumpaste beginner it would be worth it.


(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.)

Click here for my Craftsy pattern shop, which has a bunch of freebies in it: A Cake To Remember On Craftsy


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.biz and www.etsy.com/acaketoremember


 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

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