Archive | December 2012

Day 12 of the 12 Days of Giveaways: Confectioner’s Glaze and Wash

Happy Tuesday friends.  We are one week away from Christmas and it is still in the 60s here in Oklahoma.  I’m not getting to wear sweaters, let alone my cute hats and coats.  For some reason, winter never really hits Oklahoma until January or February – and I will be back to traveling by then!

I figure you have been as transfixed as I have been about the shooting in Connecticutt.  One of my heroes, Ann Curry, asked her followers on twitter to do either #20 acts of kindness or #26 acts of kindness, in honor of those taken in the horrific tragedy.  Since I just recommended the day of the shooting that we start using words of kindness randomly, I think this fits the message I want to send to my readers.  Whether you are religious, spiritual or none of the above, I still believe this fits the definition of being a good person.  I hope that each of you will take a moment, grab a piece of paper and start making notes of either 20 or 26 acts/words of kindness that you share.  I’m not asking you to tell anyone…just do it for yourself and those lucky enough to benefit from your act.  When you have a blue day and wonder why you are here on this Earth, pull out that list and remember that you are paying it forward….you are helping to change how we treat each other.  I’m going to do it and really, truly hope you will too.

Now for the giveaway.  I cannot remember the first time I was introduced to Confectioner’s Glaze, but I DO remember thinking that someone had bottled magic.  The Glaze is that awesome clear candy coating on the outside of every Advil, M&M, Jelly Belly and other similar product.  As someone who has had to take a ridiculous number of pills in my life, I know how much I hated the ones that started to dissolve the second they hit my tongue.  Maybe that is the first reason I fell in love with the Glaze.

I use the Glaze in many of my classes.  I sell the diluted version on my web site, www.RuthRickey.com.  There is an undiluted version that other cake suppliers carry.  For some reason, I’ve only worked with the diluted and so that is what I teach with.  Some people HATE the Glaze because it ruins your paintbrushes.  Here’s the key…water doesn’t remove it (remember…that is why they coat pills with it!).  You need the Glaze Wash to clean your brushes or any spills.  I carry the Wash, as well.

 

confectioners glaze wash confectioners glaze

I will do some tutorials in the future on how I use it, but here are some photos to show you why I love it.  Below is a leaf freshly dipped into the glaze, versus one that has been allowed to dry.  The glaze sets the color and blends them and makes it look more like a real leaf.

050

Here is one of my competition cakes.  After finishing the mosaic, I repeatedly glazed the tiles so that they looked like real ceramic tiles.  It takes a pretty mosaic to one that stops people in their tracks.

mosaic

In the picture below, the hypericum berries were dipped into the Glaze to get that “berry” shine.  I’ve used it for Olives, Mistletoe, Blueberries and even Almonds.  If it has a sheen to it, Glaze is your friend.

ruth iphone pics dec 2012 1168

Look for more information on Glaze in future posts, as well as tutorials.  I’m going to work on the subjects you guys have given me and the tutorial requests I’ve received.  You guys will be stuck reading my posts for years to come.  I am going to give a set of these to one of my lucky readers.  The comments have been amazing to each of my questions lately and I think you guys have enjoyed reading them as much as I have!

To enter today’s contest, comment on this post and tell me what you see as a trend for 2013.  Will there be an “in” color?  What will take the place of these hundreds of owl cakes?  What will brides want for their wedding cakes?  I know it’s just a guess, but let’s brainstorm together…what is the next trend?

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time)  12/24/12.  Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. Ruth Rickey will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.  US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

When the Lights Go Out

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Yesterday, the organizers of The Art of The Cake Show announced that, due to low registrations, they were canceling the show. They didn’t just cancel the 2013 show, they canceled it forever. Many of us who have supported this show were heartbroken. Not all shows are created equal. Each has something that sets it apart from the others for me. For Art of the Cake (AotC), it was their “Most Artistic” category.

While they judged the cakes on technical merits like every other show, they wanted to reward someone who designed a cake in a non-traditional way that really showed off the ART in sugar art. Becky Rink and Anna Weisand, organizers of the show, are both well known for being inspiringly creative, out of the box designers. They brought their passion to their show. They brought their love of sugar to the competition and encouraged everyone who entered. They honored traditions of old with their buttercream only live competition and they kept their show on the forefront by bringing in teachers that were not on the “sugar art teaching circuit”.

The people who have been to this show know what a loss this is for the sugar art community. In our current world of “let me tell you what you did wrong” mentality, people wrote them emails telling them how they messed up. Seriously? Who does that? These two fabulous women just had to lay to rest one of their dreams and people take this opportunity to judge them? So wrong and sad.

Yes, there are lots of shows, but there have been for a while. Yes, the economy is tight, but it has been for a while. Yes, cake tv has changed the landscape of sugar art, but that started years ago. The plain and simple truth is that everyone loves to go look at the cakes, but few are willing to bring their cakes. I have written several blogs about why we need to enter cake shows. I still believe it to be true. If no one brings a cake, there is nothing to look at.

People thought this was about low class enrollment (which might have also been true), but the simple fact is that there weren’t enough cake registrations to make the show break even. They offered goody bags and prizes and other incentives to get people to sign up by the date when they HAD to know whether the show was viable. On the last day of registration, there were still bags available, which means that less than 50 people had registered. There were more people planning to enter. For some reason, we cannot seem to register early for things. I wrote about this the other day in my Pot Calling Kettle blog. We cannot procrastinate. Shows, cake classes and events have hard deadlines for when they look to see if the event should take place. With money so tight, organizers cannot take a chance that the numbers will improve. Because sometimes they don’t and the event will take a loss.

Someone wrote me saying that it was too expensive to enter without wanting to win. Fine, want to win. I don’t care what gets you there. Just get there. Think about it this way…if you don’t practice a new technique on a show cake, then you are practicing on your customer. I, for one, think my customer deserves my best. I wanted them to have work that I KNEW I could do. A competition cake was my only chance to stretch and grow as a decorator. It made financial sense for me to build my portfolio by doing competition cakes. It made sense for me to become a better decorator. I consider myself to be a pretty well rounded decorator and I owe that ALL to cake shows and the mentors I met at them. I had to invest in MYSELF and my SKILLS.

I entered shows while working at a grocery store bakery and while running my own bakery. It was not easy. I will not lie to you about that. I would work long days at the bakery, then lock the door and start working on my show cake. The week before a cake show I was incredibly sleep deprived. The hardest time I had, I drove 90 minutes to the show on a Friday night and set up my cake. I drove 90 minutes home, then worked all day Saturday on my weddings. I had a bridal show on Sunday. The second it ended, I drove 90 minutes back to the show to pick up my cakes. I didn’t see any of the show. But I contributed to the show. And, more importantly, I learned new techniques that year. I would never recommend that type of schedule, but want you to understand that I do get it. I had to weigh business against cake shows every time I entered.

There are a number of cake shows on the horizon. Off the top of my head, there are shows in New Jersey, Austin, Colorado, San Diego, Virginia, Kansas City, Manchester, London, Germany….just between now and April. I hope that you will consider attending one. If you sign up for my newsletter, I list all the shows, dates and web links so that you can get more information. What one technique have you been dying to try? What flower have you always wanted to make. What do you wish you had a display of for your customers to see? This is your chance to grow. Just so you know that I will lead by example, I took my AotC refund and used it to register for That Takes The Cake Show in Austin in February. I cannot wait to try something new.

To conclude, please mourn with me the end of an era. The AotC show was a great event. Becky Rink and Anna Weisand were great show organizers. I hope that someday their show will be resurrected, but in the meantime, I want to thank them for great times and great memories.

Day 11 of the 12 Days of Giveaways: Silver Metallic Dusting Powder

Hi!  My regular readers have already figured out that this is a day late.  Ooops.  I’ve been working on organizing my sugar room and actually seeing friends in town and I just didn’t get it posted yesterday.  But this is the holidays and you will forgive me, right?

One of my favorite Christmas memories is of watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on tv and the snowman/Burl Ives sings “Silver and Gold”.  I really love that song and always loved how the snowman actually looked like Burl.  To this day, it makes me smile.  In recognition of that memory, I am going to give away my Silver Metallic Dusting Powder.  This powder is made in Italy and is considered “inedible” there.  In America, we would use the words “non toxic”.  I use this on pieces that will be removed from the cake before it is served.  It is hands down the most gorgeous silver I’ve ever worked with.  I’ve been teaching with this for a while and my students all fall in love with it.  It is great dry dusted on, but becomes truly amazing if mixed with alcohol or lemon extract to create a silver “paint”.  I can list many decorators who are huge, huge fans of this powder.

I sell the dust on my web site at www.RuthRickey.com.  I normally sell out everytime I take it to a Day of Sharing or other cake event.  Here is the container:

silver accent dust

So, does it really make a great Silver?  Here are some items I’ve created with the dust.

bling bows fantasy flowers

 

 

I am going to give one of these to one of my lucky readers.

To enter today’s contest, comment on this post and tell me what one cake tool you cannot live without!

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time)  12/23/12.  Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. Ruth Rickey will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.  US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

Day 10 of the 12 Days of Giveaways: Gold Metallic Dusting Powder

Hi friends.  This is an incredibly hard day to post a giveaway.  I don’t want to skip it, but my heart is deeply saddened by the tragedy in Connecticut this morning.  I firmly believe that we are spending too much time looking within and not enough looking without.  We have to be better neighbors and practice Random Acts of Kindness (did you read my Christmas Crazies post today?).  We have to find a way to let go of the trivial and to focus on all the great things we have.  So, for the 10th day of giveaways, it is going to be about Gold.

The Golden Rule tells us to do unto others as we would like for them to do unto us.  In recognition of the Golden rule, I am going to give away my Gold Metallic Dusting Powder.  This powder is made in Italy and is considered “inedible” there.  In America, we would use the words “non toxic”.  I use this on pieces that will be removed from the cake before it is served.  It is hands down the most gorgeous gold I’ve ever worked with.  I’ve been teaching with this for a while and my students all fall in love with it.  It is great dry dusted on, but becomes truly amazing if mixed with alcohol or lemon extract to create a gold “paint”.  I can list many decorators who are huge, huge fans of this powder.

I sell the dust on my web site at www.RuthRickey.com.  I normally sell out everytime I take it to a Day of Sharing or other cake event.  Here is the container:

gold accent dust

So, does it really make a great gold?  Here are some items I’ve created with the gold.

bling bows fantasy flowers

I am going to give one of these to one of my lucky readers.

To enter today’s contest, comment on this post and tell me what was the most Golden (best) piece of advice you’ve received as a decorator?

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time)  12/21/12.  Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. Ruth Rickey will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.  US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

Christmas Crazies

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Every year, right after Thanksgiving, we would have a meeting at our bakery to prepare everyone for the Christmas crazies. All holiday season, we warn our children to be on their best behavior. “Santa is watching you.” “The elf on the shelf will report back to Santa.” And kids do their best to stifle their tantrums and to be sweet to their siblings. Isn’t it sad that parents don’t take their own advice?

We all seem to place so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect for the holidays. We worry that we will be judged to be deficient if our Christmas presentation, party or celebration doesn’t live up to that of others. We worry about the money we are spending. We fret that we don’t know what to buy for our in-laws, parents or siblings. We procrastinate out of indecision, then get even more stressed when time runs short. We have so much going on in our daily lives that we don’t have room for all of this holiday stuff.

I used to warn my employees that customers were going to unintentionally be mean and abusive to them. I honestly don’t think the customers set out to dump on my employees, but I watched it happen year after year. For some reason, people view those in the service industry to be beneath them or almost invisible. They cannot let their families see their stress, so they dump on my fine folks.

We finally figured out that we could eliminate a lot of the crazies by random words of kindness. We’ve all heard of Random Acts of Kindness, and this is similar. I told my folks to look for a way to give a genuine compliment to any customer spending a lot of money or who looked stressed. I told them to look with fresh eyes at each customer and to try to find something nice to say to them. When I would ring up a harried customer with a bunch of cookies that were going to cost her a pretty penny, I would say “your guests are so lucky to have someone do this for them”. I would compliment their holiday sweater, tell them their hair looked great, I loved their boots, whatever. The key was that it was a true, genuine statement, that I recognized them, and then they would recognize me in return.

Think about it. The last time someone told you they loved your top, you smiled and carried that statement with you for the rest of the day. Compliments have incredible powers. I firmly believe that if we all took a little bit more time to really LOOK at our customers and appreciate them, that the favor would be returned. I know that for the twelve years I had my bakery, it truly worked.

How do you guys combat the Christmas Crazies?

Day 9 of the 12 Days of Giveaways: Dusting Collection 2

Happy Thursday!   Welcome to the 9th day of 12 Days of Giveaways!!  I have loved the responses to the last couple of giveaways!  I promise that I read every single response and am compiling information for future blogs!  I have concentrated on informational posts instead of including tutorials so far.  There are a ton of blogs that walk you through tutorials on all kinds of cake decorating subjects, but several of you mentioned that you wished I would do tutorials here.  That will be the subject that you will have to discuss to enter my next giveaway.

This is a BIGGIE…at least to me!  I had been teaching dusting for a while and as we got to more advanced elements, it seemed like we needed more colors to achieve the realism I wanted.  As before, I worked with The Sugar Art (www.thesugarart.com) to create this Kit. I bought a Pantone kit and went through my Beginning Dusting Kit to figure out what their Pantone number was.  Then, I looked at the same Pantone set to figure out what colors I needed that weren’t in my beginning set.  I sent the Pantone chart to The Sugar Art and the amazing Elzbieta Frys worked her magic to CUSTOM MIX these colors for me.  And when it was done, I had 28 brand new…not on the market colors that I even got to name!  This is my Dusting Collection 2 or my Supplemental Dusting Kit, whichever name I’ve called it around you.   I sell it on my web site (www.RuthRickey.com) for $85.  Lately, these dusts have been retailing for about $4 per jar, making this a $112 value.  This collection has, hands down, the most rocking pinks and purples I’ve seen anywhere!!

Here are the pretty colors in the set:

dusting collection 2 dusting collection 2 top

You cannot tell in the photo, but it has fuscia, hot pink, aqua, tiffany blue, and oh so much more.  I grab this set first for flowers now!

I am going to give one of these sets to one of my lucky readers.  Today, I want to know whether you want me to keep doing informational blogs or if you would like to see instructional tutorials, also.  If you want tutorials, what would you like to see first?

To enter today’s contest, comment on this post and tell me whether I should add tutorials or not.  If so, what do you want to see first? 

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time)  12/20/12.  Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. Ruth Rickey will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.  US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

Day 8 of the 12 Days of Giveaways: Luster Collection

Happy Wednesday!   Welcome to the 8th day of 12 Days of Giveaways!!  Boy did I open the floodgates with my last giveaway!  It was exciting to know that so many of you are actually out there reading my blogs and are willing to assist me in writing future articles.  This has felt like a calling for me and I am blessed to share any knowledge I have with all of you.

I thought today would be a great day to give away my Luster Collection.  As before, I worked with The Sugar Art (www.thesugarart.com) to create this Kit.  I got all of their Sterling Pearl Luster colors and picked out the ones that I thought everyone HAD to have in their personal collection.  Even better, I made sure that these 10 colors are the perfect luster finish to compliment my Dusting Collection 1.  I layer the luster dusts just like I do my petal dusts and achieve remarkable results.  I sell it on my web site (www.RuthRickey.com) for $33.  Lately, these dusts have been retailing for about $4-5 per jar, making this a $40-50 value.  I have also dry dusted paintings with these lusters and created edible liquid paints with them.  I love a versatile product!!

Here are the pretty colors in the set:

luster collection

You cannot tell in the photo, but there are two shades of rich pinks, two greens, two purples, a blue, a yellow, an orange and a super pearl.  Seriously, everything you need to accent your flowers and paintings!

I am going to give one of these sets to one of my lucky readers.  In the last giveaway, I asked for subjects to tackle.  I discovered that many of the ones people asked me to write…I had already written!!  I know it is hard to go back and search through the subjects, but hope that someday you will take the time.  Don’t worry, I will put fresh words to the subjects and will get to as many as I can as quickly as I can!

To enter today’s contest, comment on this post and tell me what cake class you “lust” to take (teacher, class and anything else you want to share)!  You have to submit your dream class, or you won’t be entered!

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time)  12/19/12.  Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. Ruth Rickey will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.  US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.