Step Away From the Super Pearl and No One Gets Hurt


I still remember the first time I discovered super pearl. I was a pretty new decorator and was at a cake show in Kansas or Missouri. Carol Webb was showing off her new (at the time) line of lace and border molds. She dry brushed the super pearl onto the lace and we all gasped. It looked like satin! It brought out all the detail of the mold. It was simply amazing.

Luckily for me, it was a bit pricey in the beginning so decorators used the super pearl sparingly. The most gorgeous accents began to appear on cakes.

Like any good thing, people started to experiment and figured out that by mixing super pearl with vodka or lemon extract, they could make an edible pearl paint. Now people started highlighting brush embroidery and extension work. It was great.

Someone decided that if we watered it down more, we could airbrush super pearl onto cakes and flowers. My favorite of these cakes involved the entire surface of the cake being airbrushed to a strong pearl sheen and then the cake was covered with piped embellishments. It was lovely.

Luck’s and Americolor introduced airbrush sheens and people were ecstatic. Now they could airbrush to their heart’s content. Decorators started spraying every cake entry with super pearl as their finishing step. No longer did we accent certain aspects of the cake; we covered everything in a thin film of pearl spray. Sprayed like that, the cakes almost look dusty. That is not good!

I want you to think of a fashion show on the runway. The designers use the sparkle and sheen to highlight certain aspects of the outfit. How many times on Project Runway do the judges question designers’ taste when they overuse sparkle and bling? A tasteful cake will not be completely covered in super pearl. If you spray everything on your cake, what is the focus? What is the attention grabber?

I have had occasion to judge one cake recently at two different shows. At the first show, the painting on the top two tiers was simply amazing. The bottom tier was not up to the level of the top two and we suggested that the decorator embellish the bottom tier more. Unfortunately, she chose to spray the entire cake with super pearl. All that did was mute her beautiful painting. It no longer popped at all. I could hardly believe it was the same cake! An incredibly memorable cake became an ordinary, almost dull cake. It broke my heart.

One of our certification candidates did beautiful pieces, then finished up in the last few moments by spraying super pearl all over all her work. I asked her later why she did it. She said, “because it is pretty.”. I asked her what she wanted us to focus on with her piece and she paused and realized that she had made everything have the same tone. Nothing stood out now.

I visited with the Odessa decorators after I helped judge their first show. Step away from the super pearl was my main piece of advice that weekend. I am not sure they understood right away, but a group of them went to the OSSAS that year and finally saw what I was talking about! I got text after text of over-super pearled cakes! They got it.

So I beg of you, step away from the super pearl. Use it as it was originally intended…as a highlight. Use it to draw attention to the focal point of your cake. Use it wisely and your cakes will thank you. Your judges will thank you. Your customers will gasp with delight as they focus on what you want them to focus on. See…no one gets hurt.

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6 thoughts on “Step Away From the Super Pearl and No One Gets Hurt

  1. Love your words of wisdom. I remember that day very well, even though I wasn’t guilty of the crime as charged, I didn’t use any super pearl for that competition. And I remember the Pink pearl cake from OSSAS. I will always hear your voice in my head when I see those over pearlized cakes “STEP AWAY FROM THE PEARL!!!!” lol

  2. I made the same mistake at my first few cake shows, and thanks to some helpful judges comments have learned my lesson!

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