Monday, March 9, 2015

Craftsy Class Review--- Sugar Flowers: Out Of the Box!

Craftsy Cake Decorating Class
Sugar Flowers: Out Of The Box was taught by Nicholas Lodge, who has done a few other Craftsy classes about sugar flowers. This one was different in that he was dealing with pre-made sugar flowers that you can buy at craft stores and online. I'm not a fan of pre-made flowers, so I bought this class out of a slight curiosity about what he was going to do, and for the section on pricing they promised was at the end.

Let's get it out of the way right away...The section on pricing only had about 4 minutes of pricing information in it, and it basically said that he marks up flowers 3-5 times the wholesale cost to make his retail cost. Which is pretty normal. So if you want to buy the class just for that, don't bother.

The bad things about pre-made flowers are the fact that they look chunky and thicker than the ones that you can make yourself, basically because they have to be shipped and toted around so they have to be sturdy. If the petals were made as thin as the ones that you can lake yourself they'd break in transit. This also means that there are a limited number of varieties of flowers that you can buy pre-made, which is something that he mentions. He kept reminding people that these techniques are some that you can also use with flowers that you make yourself, so I think he felt slightly dirty working with those boxy things.

The good thing about pre-made flowers are that you don't have to make them.

The flowers that I sell in my shop are types that can be shipped without getting smashed, but I also pack the bejeezus out of them. They're thinner than the ones that he's working with, but I'm also aware that there are some that don't travel well, so I don't sell those. So buying things pre-made does have limitations. This class was meant to show some ways that you can tart up the plain flowers that you can buy to try to make them look fancier.

He went over taking some of them apart, coloring them with food coloring and metallics, making fantasy flowers with beaded centers and how to make sugar brooches to use as the centers. He also showed a few tools that would be helpful for some decorating tasks. He relies heavily on "fantasy flowers" (i.e. "these look like nothing in nature but we'll say they're fantasy to excuse my lack of ability in making real-looking ones") which works with the pre-made flowers clunkiness and cookie-cutter appearance.

This class did have a lot of information in it, and in true Nic Lodge fashion, he kept talking throughout, so he really moves it along. It's better than a lot of the classes where the instructor just stops talking and concentrates on what they're doing, leaving a deadly silence during which I fall asleep.

I'd say that this class is worth getting for the basics of combining some of the flowers with different elements, but honestly, some of the things that he does wouldn't be saving you a lot of time. He basically took entire flowers apart and then put them back together again, so that saves you the time to make the petals.

However, I did the petals for an entire peony in twenty minutes the other day (I timed myself) and that was 21 petals. So if I took the time to unwrap a 5-petal flower just to rewrap it I basically saved myself maybe 4 minutes. That would be 1 minute to unwrap it vs. 5 minutes to make them. Oh, and I would have had to order and unpack them, so I probably didn't save all that much time. And given that the flowers that you make yourself probably look better than the ones that you buy, the tradeoff is pretty equal.

I'd say that if you're going to order flowers and use them straight from the box with no alteration, that will obviously save you time. But if you're going to color them, deconstruct them, make centers for them, paint them and spend time doing all that, just make up some basis petals and do all those other things to them. They won't look as fat as the ones that you buy and you'll end up with a better result.

My final review:

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate.
Equipment you have to have: Pre-made flowers, food coloring, jewel molds, wire, floral tape.
Sleep-inducing level: Not bad at all.
What it assumes you already know: Not much.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Nothing difficult per se, but there was a liberal use of inedible elements on the flowers, including isopropyl alcohol and decorative-use only gold dust. Don't use these same materials on an actual cake, they're just meant to be put on things that nobody will eat.
Annoying Host Habits: Not much, but there were times when he seemed to be rushing, which isn't a huge deal but it made me nervous.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: A decent amount of ideas that you can use on both pre-made and flowers that you make yourself.


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

2 comments:

Eva Farragher said...

Nicholas Lodge spruiking pre-bought sugar flowers? Wash your mouth out Nick! I'm very disappointed to hear he is sinking to this level :-(

Kara Buntin said...

I felt the same way...But he basically takes them apart and re-wires them, so he might as well be making the petals himself. It really made no sense to me to have him do this class in particular.