Modern Mosaic Cakes was taught by Allison Kelleher, who owns AK Cake Design, and who has a background in mixed media art. It covers the basics of how to design cakes with patterns using modular units that are basically quilting patterns, which is one reason I thought it looked interesting.
I used to do a lot of quilting and the designs that she demonstrates are basically simple block designs with triangles and squares. If you've ever done any quilting you know how versatile this method of piecing can be. You can create multiple patterns, including the dreaded chevron or stripes, just using simple triangles or squares. Look at this lady's pinterest page for examples of half-square triangle patterns, and think about how those would look on a cake: http://www.pinterest.com/mdehoop/half-square-triangle-quilts/
She goes over a few different patterns, demonstrates how to make a basic rose, and also goes over a few different painting techniques that are used to add some dimension and texture to the designs. She definitely approaches her designs more like an artist than a cake decorator, which was interesting.
The one thing that drove me crazy was how slow it was to make the squares and triangles, because she was using square cutters instead of doing them in strips like I would do to make fabric squares for quilting (go to youtube and look up "how to use a rotary cutter" and you'll see what I mean.) Quilters have tons of tools that are used to cut squares of fabric, and the rulers and mats are all marked off with angles and lines to use to make squares of any size you'd need. Since I'm quite familiar with those I was pretty much writhing with horror to watch her cut out one little square at a time.
I couldn't believe that she didn't know about the quilting tools, since she had been a mixed media artist, so I emailed her to ask her about it. She responded and said that the prefers to use the cutters because when she uses the mats and quilters rulers she finds that she pulls the shapes out of whack slightly and that bothers her, so for her it's faster to use the cutters.
That made sense because you can definitely pull things out of square if you cut them too fast using a ruler, but if I had ninety million squares to cut out I'd still use the strip cutter method. You can always take a paring knife after the fact and square up and edges that need to be squared. And it would give you more versatility on size if you only have a certain set of cutters that are slightly too big or small for what you want to do. If you only needed a few squares of each color that's one thing, but for lots of them strips would be how I would do it.
My final review:
Skill Level: Beginners could do this.
Equipment you'll need: Cutters and fondant with some tylose. Petal dusts for paint, but you don't HAVE to have those if you just want to learn the modular techniques.
Sleep-Inducing level: Pretty high because it's kind of slow.
it assumes you already know: Not much, it's a pretty basic yet versatile technique once you catch on.
Unnecessary Level Of Difficulty For Techniques
Shown: Just the cutters, look into getting a quilting ruler and mat if you really like this technique. Use it with a pizza cutter, the rotary cutters are super sharp for cutting fabric and you don't need a blade that sharp for fondant.
Host Habits: She "ums" a lot, but so do most other Craftsy instructors.
Level Of Helpful Hints Learned: If you've never seen how quilting patterns work, you'll be shocked at how simple triangles can be put together to make so many different patterns.
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