Craftsy Class Review: Simple Skills for Dramatic Designs

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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.)

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 and

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