The Earlene Factor


When I went to my first cake show, I was a wide eyed decorator looking to learn as much as I could. I watched those around me and figured out who the influential, inspirational decorators were. They were the people I wanted to be more like. For me, that was Maxine Boyington, JoEllen Simon, Cheri Elder, Cheryl Hawkins and, most importantly for me, Earlene Moore. Earlene created cakes with lace and butterflies that were far beyond my knowledge. She was always smiling and happy and sharing her love of cake.

Earlene went further than most decorators, however. Before there was Facebook, Pinterest and You Tube tutorials, we had Earlene. She created a web site called http://www.earlenescakes.com. On her site, she offered advice for entering cake shows. She posted tutorials on common problems decorators faced. She shared recipes. This was so ahead of its time that, in my opinion, it contributed to her being named to the ICES Hall of Fame several years ago.

Every cake show and cake club seems to have someone like Earlene. I call it the Earlene Factor. As I was growing up in cake decorating circles, there were always groups of ladies (and some men) who were about 10-20 years older than me that were my guiding lights in the cake world. Some became mentors. Most became friends over the years. Because they were who they were, they continually inspired me to push myself to be more, to go further.

A year or so ago, I was at a cake show, talking to young, wide eyed decorators. All of a sudden I realized that I had become a type of Earlene. You never realize that you’ve moved from the young decorators group to the “slightly” older, influential group. I still think of myself as one of the young ones, but the mirror and my birth certificate beg to differ. I remember how much it meant to me to get the chance to learn from Earlene. Some of you have written to tell me how much it has meant to you for you to learn from the decorators of my generation. Many of us are trying to emulate a life that reflects the Earlene Factor.

I read a FB post last week from a decorator that had written someone she respected. She posted that the response she received was so arrogant and condescending that she was truly rocked by it. This broke my heart. That means that someone didn’t take the opportunity presented to them to inspire a talented young decorator. How sad. Part of the Earlene Factor is making sure that you check you ego at the door. Earlene is one of the most humble women I have ever met. She doesn’t walk around listing her accolades. She doesn’t talk down to you. She motivates. She inspires. She informs. I am so incredibly blessed to call her a friend.

If I am becoming an Earlene, then I am achieving one of my life goals.

Who has inspired and motivated you? Who has the Earlene Factor in your neck of the woods?

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23 thoughts on “The Earlene Factor

  1. Believe it or not, you are an inspiration to me. Always willing to share and answer questions. If I have a question about cake decorating, you are the first one that comes in mind. Thank you for being an “Earlene Factor” to me and many others..

  2. Thank you for your article…..I agree with the Earlene Factor. I would consider Earlene a legend of her own in the cake world. With the Earlene’s in the world it makes the younger talented cake designers strive to be better and sharing the knowledge to make us better. Kuddo’s Ruth for recognizing her talent…and love your articles……but you are one very talented caker yourself!!!

  3. What a great article! Ruth, I think the ladies that have already commented say it best! Thank you for you incredibly insightful, witty, honest, and educational posts. I hope to read many man…many more!

  4. I remember my first cake show in State College Pa. I met Kim Morrison. She was wonderful. She talked me to for a while , gave me her info and said to give her a call If I needed help. Kim gave me the best piece of advice and that was to enter as many cake shows as I could no matter how much I felt like I wasn’t good enough because you will always learn from each cake. So I began going to any cake show I could. I learned about the wonderful work of online cake boards. That’s where I met my cake hero Janet Brown. That woman oozes talent. I stalked her until she became my friend. The advice and lessons she has taught me are completely priceless. Another cake hero is Benky Rink. She has always taken the time to chat with me and is always willing to help decorators of all levels. And there is that Ruth Rickey lady ;). You have a way about you that helps others learn when you judge the shows. Your judging comments help the decorator learn why they’re not have places and how they can improve without making them feel like a failure. I remember you once saying you only lose when you don’t bring a cake because you are cheating yourself of the experience. Thank you to all of you ladies and those I didn’t mention for helping me become the decorator I am today 🙂

    • You are so right about Kim, Becky and Janet! Each of them has taught me things and made me love cake shows. It is such a gift to find those who help you to WANT to keep going in this industry.

  5. Great article Ruth!
    I love Earlene, and I am so blessed to count her as an inspiration, and friend! We all start with a thirst for knowledge when we are first introduced to this amazing sugar world, I, like you found a group of artists who were supportive each step of the way, and loved sharing their talents, and knowledge with all who wanted it. Then they encouraged me to go to a convention, where there were even more of the same sharing, and caring type of people I could fill a page with names of amazing artists who have helped me be the artist I am today). I was and continue to be forever grateful to these artists, for showing me it is not just about awards, and accolades (though those are nice), but whose life you touch, and encourage, to help build their sweet dreams, and share everything I know with anyone who wants it! I hope I live up to the example that was set for me, and continue in their footsteps!

  6. Ruth I am flabbergasted. Just speechless. I have watched you grow, share, teach and become one of the innovative sugar artists in our time. I love seeing the younger talent in this sugar world – oh my the things you younger artists are doing in sugar now. It does my heart good to see this sugar world explode with talent. I am truly blessed to call you my friend.

  7. Earlene is my Earlene Factor. I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and know her. She helped me learn how to pipe on the sides of cake, something I am terrible at and embarassed to admit. She didn’t make me feel embarassed and just walked me through. I watched her create her magic on a cake from beginning to end, and Wow! it took my breath away. She inspires me to keep trying. So glad to call her friend.

  8. There are so many people who have inspired me not only in cake decorating and sugar arts, but in being a gracious and sharing person. I am currently in culianary school and one of the points that was made in my textbook was that you can never learn enough–it is an ever changing medium. We can all learn from each other-young from old and, yes, old from young. It has been a pure pleasure to witness the sharing and caring that goes on in this sweet community of ours.
    I just wish the rest of the world could catch on! Thank you to all the Ruths and Earlenes out there!

  9. I am over here crying tears of joy. How did I happen to fall into this world of sweetness and love where experience and wisdom is truly appreciated? In this instantaneous world, so many flash in the pan “stars” are revered, I can appreciate the talent it takes to make amazing things once but to do this same feat over and over again is humbling and awe inspiring to me. Some day I hope to do my mentors proud. For now I am still soaking up as much cake know-how as I can and doing the routine – practice, scrape, practice, scrape. Thank you Earlene Moore, Kathleen Lange, Ruth Rickey, Nicholas Lodge, MJ Dowling, Dawn Parrott, Peggy Tucker and many, many more. Thank you for the cake and life lessons you have imparted to this short redhead from Texas. ((hugs))

  10. That was so nice to read! I love Earlene too! She is awesome!! My top favorite person in my cake world was Mrs. Gayle McMillian. I know most of my ICES family knew her. She was my only Wilton teacher. She was my teacher for all of the Wilton classes & more! We became instant friends! She introduced me to ICES. I was so blessed to have her as a friend. She taught me so much & she always motivated me! She was such a joy to know~ I miss Mrs Gayle! ❤

  11. I have a “Betty Factor”. Since Earlene and I are about the same age, it has been my honor and pleasure to call her a dear friend, as well as an inspiration, and my go to gal. But before there was Earlene, there was and is ,Betty Van Nostrand. She has always been my goal setter, the one to give it to me straight, and not allow me to make excuses… She expected the best, taught the best, encouraged the best, and praised no matter what. It was this legacy that I have always wanted to pass on to my employees and students… Don’t accept less. Great article about Earlene, I second everything you said.

  12. I have a couple of “Earlene’s” that I am blessed to know and call friends – except thier names are Dianne and Diane! Dianne Rockwell (MA) and Diane Paglia (RI)! Between both of these ladies they have about 70 years experience and I have been so lucky to learn from these giving women!

  13. Wow!! Talk about tears. Flowing as I remember how my mom mentored Earlene . Mother was often called “the cake lady of Hale County ” back in the sixties! I admire Earlene so much for the legacy she has created and is still creating. Just know Mother is beaming down from heaven with super happiness for all of you!

  14. I believe we all have a lot to thank Earlene Moore for, personally. If it weren’t for her willingness to share, everything, most of us would have nothing. Had it not been for her website with her lovely pictures of cakes, my FIL might not be as supportive as he has been – he sees the possible revenue in cake. Earlene’s name has become a cake world word. “What chart do you use to estimate cakes? Wilton or Earlene? It’s almost as if there is nothing we do in our cake world that doesn’t involve something from Earlene. I believe that our talent is God-given. Because of that, I believe we have a responsibility to share how we do what we do when we can, where we can. Earlene is the perfect example of this. Her legacy lives well outside the state of Texas. She is a very bright jem in the cake world, one that should never be taken for granted. I don’t know her well, but I do know her face, and I love to see it at shows, including her very sweet smile and her willingness to listen and share her knowledge.

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