Monday, April 22, 2013

Craftsy Class Review- Southern Sugar Flowers

This Craftsy class was taught by Maggie Austin, who also did the ruffle cake class. Since the dogwoods and magnolias are blooming this time of year I decided to go ahead and review this class now, but I'd suggest that you wait to buy it until it's on sale for a few reasons.

Now, I have to say that I give the instructors of these classes credit for having to answer some of the moronic questions that people post on there. But that's how they're earning their money, because a lot of these classes are really stretching it to try to fill the time.

This class was super slow...the segment that showed how to cut out and do the veining on the dogwood leaf was 8 1/2 minutes long to do ONE LEAF. That's One. One leaf. Then another 8 minutes to petal dust the little pinky-brown spots on the petals. And another 12 minutes saying how to put the branch onto a styrofoam dummy cake, although it wasn't identified as that. This is a major stretch of time, they're obviously trying to fill up space to say that the class is X number of minutes long. The Sugar Roses class and a few other ones did the same thing.

They also threw in a "bonus" section of how to make gumpaste from scratch. I personally think that if they give you the recipe in the materials section you shouldn't have to watch someone do that, but I know that some people like that. To me it just seemed like another way to stretch out the class by throwing in something that's been covered in ten other places on Craftsy.

This is a dogwood center. It is not what the ones in this class look like.
The dogwood and magnolia centers were made with the good old "pinch them with tweezers and cut them with scissors" methods, which are easy but give you a hot mess of a center. The easier way to go the dogwood center is either to use a mold for it, or press the gumpaste through a piece of tulle netting to get the individual sections separated.

For the magnolia center, cutting it works okay, but you can make them smaller than she does. Just look at a picture of a magnolia center and you'll see how weird they are.

(The thing about magnolias and dogwood centers is that they're really distinctively specific with lots of teeny tiny pieces. It's unlikely that you'll get them to look exactly like a real one. Taking liberties with them is something that's pretty common, so don't worry if they don't look exactly like hers do, because hers don't look exactly like a real one either. You just want to suggest the texture of the real thing.)

Dogwoods are typically one of the most fragile sugar flowers that I've ever made, and you tend to have a lot of breakage with them. She does mention this, but she also says to roll the gumpaste out to a 6 on the pasta roller. I personally would recommend that you only take it to a 4 or a 5 until you get the hang of dealing with these flowers. The cutter for a dogwood doesn't give you a lot of support right at the center, so the petals are prone to breaking. Having a slightly thicker gumpaste will help with that to a certain extent.

She really likes pulling the edges of the petals to thin them, not rolling them, too. Shades of her ruffle cake technique. Make sure that if you do that you're not ripping everything up, and try to roll a little more and tear a little less if you find that's what's happening.

The magnolia is a very, very basic flower. A center and some big petals, and you're pretty much done. Luckily, the petals are also thicker than the dogwood, so you don't have as much risk of breakage. If you've never done them before you'll be able to do a decent one, since there's not much to them.

So I guess that you can see I didn't think that this class was all that great. It was okay, but not worth full price for two flowers and a lot of repetition. I think that Craftsy ruined me with the Classic Sugar Flowers class, since that one was so good and had much more information than their other gumpaste classes have had. The others pale in comparison.

So my overall review:

Skill Level: Beginner.
Equipment You Have To Have: Cutters, veiners, floral wire and tape, etc. Lots of petal dusts, etc. check the class materials list before buying it.
Sleep-Inducing Level: Oh my God, so slow...
What It Assumes You Already Know: Basic gumpaste info, how to handle and store it, etc.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Not much, but I swear to God they need to ditch that groove board. The veiner is also fine to use with the dogwood cutter but I know what she meant when she said that it's too small. The edges of the petals will be thinned anyway, so that isn't such a big deal unless you really stretch it way out of shape.
Annoying Host Habits: Not much that I noticed but I was asleep a lot.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: A couple of things that were reinforced from the Nic Lodge classes. If you've never done these flowers before you'd do yourself a favor to look at photos of actual dogwoods and magnolias before making them.

This class is worth it for a gumpaste beginner if you get it at a sale price. If you have experience with gumpaste flowers and can look at a photo of a flower and figure out how to make it, skip this one. I was also going to be doing a tutorial on here about doing dogwood centers before this class was announced, so you could wait for that if all you want is the centers.

You should also check out Minette Rushing's excellent youtube tutorials on how to make a gumpaste magnolia. And they're free to watch, last time I checked!

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.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

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