I had an email yesterday from a local customer who wanted a 2 tiered cake for his daughter's 1st birthday for April 4th.Through several emails we had come to the decision he wanted handmade 3D figures on the cake in the characters of "In the Night Garden" which is a popular kids show on Treehouse TV here in Canada....At fist I thought..Okay..I think I can do this...Then after I got off the computer I started to model the one easier character...and it was terrible I mean it looked like a 2 yr old had made it..I was so upset I started to cry So I emailed him back this morning and graciously declined the cake as I felt I could not charge him the amount for the cake and not be happy with it 100% It was a $200.00 cake).So now I am really upset with myself and I feel a bit like a failure....I wish I could mold figures but I don't have the patience and easily get frustrated.I just didn't want to disappoint him!!He didn't even blink at the price either.
Some days I feel so inadequate at this!
Chin up! It will be okay, have a little faith in yourself. Your cakes are great! Is there a way where you could maybe find a small figure of what he wants and use that instead of a fondant figure? You will get better with practice.. Believe me I know...I'm only a cake hobbiest, but I learn soemthing new everyday. I'm sure other cc peeps can give better advise than me.
You should always do what you are best at and what you're going to be proud of and be proud of yourself for not a promising something you couldn't deliver at what you consider your best.
On that note just a couple of thoughts:
One, make the figures anyway for your own personal practice and take your time. I think someone said they usually spend an hour per figure so if you were getting frustrated in 20 minutes maybe you were rushing.
Second, if figures are not your thing, how are you at color flow or royal icing plaques? If you are good at these things , make a couple of sample cakes so when people want figures you can stear them to another alternative that you feel comfortable with.
And lastly, remember you always have a way out. Just tell them that it is illegal to reproduce copyright images for cakes but you would be happy to include any figures he provided..charge extra if he wants you to find and order the figures.
As my mom always said..never feel bad for being honest.
Buck up, skippy! At least you tried, and what's more is that you were honest with the client about what you can and can't do. That is more than admirable!
I tip my hat to anyone who is committed to giving 100% every time. And you know, this is an opportunity to hone your skills and get better at something that once seemed monumentally difficult. Once you conquer this skill you will be so proud of yourself!
Don't let it get you down. Maybe someone else will call with a different
cake design and you will whip it up and not think anything of it. then when its gone you'll think wow I just did a great cake.Don't worry we all have our days.. thats why we have cake disasters catagory. I have my share in there.
Its okay! I'm sure he would rather have you be honest with him than have him pay for a cake that was not what he wanted.
Just this weekend I had to make a last minute change to a dog cake...planned to make him sitting up but the structure wasn't going to work...so I changed it to lying down and knocked some money off the total (because I had charged extra for internal structure). I really lucked out because the lady said she thought lying down would be cuter anyway, and she even gave me a tip along with the remainder of her balance when she picked it up. (Bulldog cake in my photos). I know it won't always turn out that good, and I try to avoid it...but hey, it happens!
You should not feel bad at all. This has happened to me too and I went ahead and made the cake. I was so embarassed at the figure that I had to put on that cake. It just wasn't good enough for me.
Everyone is into the fondant cake figures now but not all cake decorators can make them. I think you need a little bit of a gift to make them look good. I don't and have decided to refuse cakes that require people figures...I can do animals a little better.
Let's face it, some of us, me included, will never have the figure-making talent of Aine. But you know, Aine confessed in a forum I believe, that she doesn't work well with buttercream. Everyone's gifts lie in different areas and you can't always give people what they want on a cake order.
Stick with what you know and love or decorating will become too stressful and not fun.
Don't feel so bad. You were honest with the client, and this is a good thing.
Worse would it be if you had a unsatisfied client. You did your best.
Just keep practicing, and you will improve for sure.
Don't beat yourself up, pat yourself on the back for recognizing your limitation and being honest with the client about not being able to provide what they wanted. We all have strengths and weaknesses so focus on your strengths and if figure modelling is something you want to pursue do so at your leisure with no pressure to "deliver".
You make beautiful cakes!
You can decide, that hand molded figures aren't for you. No shame in it.
But I have an tip for you: Should you attempt another figure, this could help you:
Kids show characters - look for the toys made for this characters - first, you see it 3D, not on TV. Second, the toys are somewhat simpler than the character on show. This helps you.
Modelling (and painting too) - don't look at whole. Look at shapes - head, body etc. Look at proportions.
An example for your cake:
I would take tombliboos. Take piece of fondant, part it in 4 roughly same sized parts. One part is the head - make a ball, flatten it for the face. With small ball tool indent the eyes a little, add smallest ball for the nose, mark the mouth. Add small, different sized balls for the hair.
From the rest, make a shape of cone / bell for the body. Make the wider part of cone little smaller for the legs, cut it in the middle to make the legs. Add hands.
Play with it a little to make the final character.
You did have a week at least to get it perfect. You have children - get their play dooh and practice, or better yet - practice with them! (I hope they still play with play dooh).
But as I said first - no shame in decision NOT to make figures. Your cakes are beautiful as they are.
I agree, I think it was very admirable of you to tell him that you could not do it. Practice, practice, and practice some more. You'll get better at it. I'm going to share this story with my 17 year old daughter (LORD give me strength). My husband and I are always talking to her about how important integrity is.
I think you made the right decision. It was important to you that it be right. And if you felt that you couldn't do it in way that made you feel happy with the end creation, then you had to tell him so. I give you a huge thumbs up for having the integrity to do so. Your cakes are fabulous and you have the proof of it by your happy customers. So take a step back and be proud of what you did. I kow that it will make you sleep alot better knowing that you made the right decision! You go, girl!!!!
Heck, I do it all the time. If someone calls about a cake I can't do, I tell them I can't do it ... and I give them the name of someone who will do a good job for them.
(jillmakescakes, did you get that call this afternoon that I sent to you?)
What a shame.
My son was really into the Night Garden, you maybe could have kept the theme but done a tiers as bits of the Pinky Ponk instead wich from looking at ll your fab pictures would have been something you would easily have managed, or could you have done the figures as you have done your cookies in the past as the details on them are great.
I love modelling and find that I am getting slowly better as time goes by (aided by having had the opportunity of watching debbie brown make a cake and seeing how she does figures). All I can say is that I deconstruct everything into simple pieces and thread and glue onto dried spagetti bits to hold. Also I will get people to tell me what they want but keep to their theme but I decide ultimately what it will look like (leaves me lots of room to play if things are not going to plan!). But then I am only charging pin money at the moment so get away with more!
Hope you are feeling better!