Hi all. I have been hanging around cake central for a while, posting the odd question and getting inspirtation from all of you. I'm hoping that someone will have some words of wisdom for me now...I'm so frustrated! I have not done a lot of cakes (see my pics for the main ones) but I would like to someday make a business out of this. I am always turning people down who want cakes because I just don't have a lot of time (I work full time in social work) and I don't feel very confident in my ability. I am trying to do as many as I can so that I get the practice, but it just takes me so long! And this brings me to my frustration of the day. It took me ALL DAY today to make two gum paste people, a canoe, paddles and a tiny camera! Ugh! No wonder I don't have time to do this; it takes me so darn long! I get going on making figures and suddenly the entire day is gone and there is so little to show for it. I am so frustrated and discouraged...will it ever get better? How often do you have to be making figures/cakes/flowers before you get quicker with it?!
I guess I havn't been doing this very long and I havn't taken any courses, so there are probably 'tips' that I just don't know that would make it go faster. But I don't know...maybe I'm just too slow at this to ever make a go of it. It's a good thing I'm not trying to make a living at this, I'd be in the poor house for sure!
Sorry to rant, I'm just discouraged and wondering if I will ever get faster at this. I had hoped to get two rather involved cakes done this weekend but I'll be lucky to finish the one I had started and frozen earlier in the week!
Thanks for listening and for being the wonderful inspiration that you all are. I'm going to go clean my kitchen....
don't give up your work is fantastic. I wish I could make figures as nice as yours. The speed will come. You can tell you really enjoy what you do.
First of all let me say; you're cakes are amazing. They are beyond just great custom cakes, those figures you have are a talent all in their own. I can see why it takes you awhile to do them. I myself have been putting off getting into such detailed work as that until I've got a decent speed with the rest of it, because it's only natural that those AMAZING figures are going to take lots of time.
Definitely don't feel discouraged. You're work is amazing and I hope you're charging what its worth.
Oh girl! Please don't get so discouraged. You do absolutely beautiful work!! I'm sure you will get faster , although I could try to make figures like yours and couldn't do them in two days. You are very gifted. Hang in there!
Your work is gorgeous! You have a talent, don't stop.
OMG your cakes are beautiful! They are full of detail and are totally awesome. I can see that each of your cakes would definitely take a long time, but that seems your style and you are doing great with it! Half the battle of being a great decorator is finding your style. I'm fairly new also and I know the time factor is frustrating for myself as well. But as always, practice will help and you should take pride in the fact that so many people are asking you to make cakes!
Don't get discouraged, you will get faster! Just remember, in this economy, it may be best to take your time and let things improve. You have a great opportunity to take it slow.
Definitely take a class! I've only taken one, but it boosted my confidence 150%.
Good luck and happy decorating! Now, I've got to go back to your photos and add that cute elephant and giraffe to my favorites.
Sheesh and I thought I was hard on myself and took too long for the little things. No wonder it takes you forever to make something. You are meticulous about even the smallest strands of hair and how they curve, the smoothness of each limb and symmetry! Work like that can't be rushed! Your soccer girl's face is so beautiful. You made her so pretty. Things like you make do take time. Don't give up just vent your frustration but understand to craft anything in your style takes time and anyone looking can see the attention to detail! I too dream of a someday. Who knows but maybe we should just enjoy the journey and climb along the way. Poor house I don't think so. Things are progressing in the cake industry and people are getting accustomed to seeing works of art and they are getting educated on the cost little by little. My thinking is that eventually people are going to get to a point when they will say sure we will pay because we want it but we want it better and cleaner. So keep one turning out your fantastic cakes! I am going to have to keep a look out for your next one to be sure because I can't wait to see what you do! I hate the clean up too.. I make such a mess even with the little things. Bit's and shards of sugar everywhere! LOL You should enter in some competitions! You are really talented and I can see you enjoy and care about what you do!
Thank you for your kind words. Perhaps I'm just tired...it just seems like so much work for so little progress. I'm sure I'm my own worst critic (at least that's what I'm told) but I just wish I could do a decent job faster! Thank you all for your encouragment, you are all my inspiration!
I've learned we all have off days, where we feel we aren'tt good at what we do, or unsatisfied with how it looks. I'm not as fast as I would like to be, but I know in time I will be faster and better just by doing. Hang in there you have wonderful work!
You are all too kind....thank you. It means so much to have encouragment from fellow cakers. My partner is always in my corner, but only those who are 'there' can truely understand the frustration and lack of confidence I feel in this thing! Well, I'm getting a little teary thinking about your kind words, so it's off to bed for me! Thank you....
Whhhhhhhew.......I'd be beating down your door for a cake with those characters too. Well, here's your chance. Price high, cause you're worth it. I don't know the foggiest thing about pricing characters with that amount of work involved. I just know it's a price that would probably be outta my budget! Lol.....awesome work!
your characters are amazing. I wish I had the talent to make characters like that. I've attempted and they all ended up in the trash can
Please don't feel discouraged, you have some real talent.
You've made very beatuiful cakes and your fondant work is breath taking. You obviously have the talent and mad skills. I had trouble sculpting little turtles and will never think of attempting people. Maybe you could sell some of your work to a local shop? Keep up the good work. You'll find the time will begin to shortn.
Wow. You all are such an amazing shot in the arm with encouragment! Thank you. Well, after a good night's sleep I no longer feel like throwing in the towl and guess I will attempt to finish this cake today.
Thank you for your kinds words and for thinking that I actually sell my cakes! The thing is, I'm not really selling them yet (except 'Jamielee's cake', i.e. the soccer girl cake) which I did as a favor and charged a mimimum amount. But I've been trying to do as many cakes as I can so that I get more practice. Someday I'd like to be able to sell them. But I think I need to get better at my techniques and faster. Which brings me to a qestion...
How long does it take until you feel confident enough to sell your cakes? I'm thinking that if one was to make cakes as a business, you have to know all the techniques and be confident enough in your ability that whatever the customer wants you are able to do right? I mean, if someone orders a cake with something that I don't know how to do, I'm sure I'd do just what I do now...go online and figure out how to do it. But then the time factor comes in: finding out how to do something, doing it slowly because you're figuring it out, all thre trial and error. And then you've taken even longer to make something, so how do you make any money? So I've been trying to do a bunch of different things, but the more I research the more overwhelmed it feels! There is so much to learn, how will I ever master it all?!
How did those of you who are selling your cakes get started? Was there a lot that you still didn't know or did you have a good mastery of everthing before you started? Did you ever feel like you'd never learn it all or get fast enough at what you're doing?
lol, i was just about to post something similar. ive been in business since November but i work 9-5 monday to friday as a legal secretary so time is an issue for me. last night i filled, crumb coated, iced and decorated a two tier cake and it still is taking me 4 hours to do. i had the cakes baked and frozen and my bc and figures already made and it still took me 4 hours. i see posts particularly in the friday night cake club where people are doing like 4 wedding cakes in one night and im thinking what am i doing wrong!!
just dont be discouraged, your work is great you definitly have the talent so if you have the patience you will make a go of it (ps your baby giraffe is straight into my favs).
Ps in relation to your last post. you know your cakes are good enough the sell when:-
1. you know they taste really good and you have failsafe receipes that you can rely on and that behave themselves and taste great.
2. you are confident that you can get a reasonably smooth cover of fondant.
3. you are able to make gumpaste figures, etc (which you totally can). i
4. you have priced what your costs are against what you could charge in your area and are confident that you could make a profit whether large (to live off)| or small (like me to give enough personal satisfaction to make it worthwhile and also to have a nice nest egg to put away for a holiday or home improvements, etc). also, they cost A LOT more than sometime you initially think - add in all costs no matter how small as when your trying to make a profit and are quite low priced to start off with every penny counts.
My advice to you as someone who has a mortgage and a well enough paid full time job that we live comfortably is to take it slow. I sold my first cake at christmas to a girl at work and then my second to a guy at the tattoo shop i go to (its the pink daisy giftbox style cake in my pics) and since then ive been getting between 3-6 cake orders per week and am starting to get wedding cake orders. You find that it is all word of mouth - some of my customers have got like 6 cakes of me! also a website it a great idea, it looks professional and is easy to tell people to go to rather than emailing them your portfolio. i get a lot more busines now since having it. but in order to do this you need a lot more pictures.
my advice would be to invest in a few cake dummies. if you check my pics almost everything up to the pink daisy gift box are dummies. you need to spend a few weeks making up figures, and designing cakes etc to give people ideas - most people are visual and want to see your ideas in order to get inspiration so get a few christening, ladies birthday, kids cartoon character, and soccer/football dummies done in order that you get practice and also so you can give people confidence in your ability. this worked for me....before i got my website i was able to email people who enquired like 25 pictures of different types of dummies i had made and every single person i emailed those pics to ordered from me. now i only use dummy pictures for my wedding cake section of my website as i havent done one yet, but everything else on my site are real cakes. this will also give you confidence with the fact that your worried about getting an order for something you cant do.
in my experience, every order has been a challenge! ive done everything from a novelty 40th train cake to a globe style cake to a 70's disco ball theme cake and every one of those has had something i havent made before and had to research but you find as you go on you take less time to work things out. i used to spend literally HOURS and DAYS researching colour schemes, ideas, etc for every single cake but as i got more orders and had less time to spend on this i now depend a lot more on my own ideas and dont sketch out endless pages of ideas any more. for something like a gumpaste figure im not sure about how to make i do a quick search and see a picture of how someone else has done it and then just copy it piece by piece. its so much easier as you can actually see how someone has done it in the same medium as you are using.
also, lastly, dont take on anything big you really dont know how to do. For example while im confident in making say, a car in gumpaste, i literally wouldnt even consider making a carved car cake as i just dont feel confident to try carved shapes yet. also i wouldnt take on a topsey turvey cake yet as im not confident at all in making one for a paying customer. my intention is to make myself a mini topsey turvey (8,6,4) for my birthday and then start making them for customers after that. also i only use fondant - wouldnt do a buttercream cake as again, i am not confident in this medium or royal icing. also i wouldnt take on a cake using pillars - they scare the hell out of me.
while this makes me seem a chicken, it does mean less chance of a disaster and it means that i can really concentrate on improving my fondant cakes rather than being mediocre at fondant, buttercream, royal icing, etc because i have my finger in so many pies. also i can grow gradually, im starting to advertise using chocolate fondant now - my friend is letting me experiment with it for the first time on a suitcase cake that she is ordering from me so while it is a paid cake, it is less pressure as its for my best friend who i sit beside every day in work and bore to tears about cakes (lol) but i would never try this for cake that was for an ordinary customer.
Sorry this is so long but i remember being in exaclty the same boat as you at christmas and now i cant believe how my business has grown amd i really hope in a few years to be able to be able to go part time at work.
OMG Cathy, your message was just what I was needing! Thank you so much. You answered so many of my questions with such practical answers. And, I just looked at your pictuesa and they are beautiful! You are increadibly talented. I wish I could just 'pop in' and see them in person...but since you're in Ireland and I'm in Canada that would be difficult to say the least!
Can I ask you a few questions and draw on your expertise? For your dummy cakes do you use dummies with pre-rounded edges or do you round them yourself? What do you do with all the decorated dummy cakes? Do you keep them somewhere? Is there a way to strip the styro and use them again?
Thanks so much for the advice to concentrate on a few things rather than trying to do it all. That is what I want to do but I was feeling like I should 'know it all' before I try to sell any cakes. Now I see that what I was feeling was right and I can concentrate on my strong points and perfect them rather than trying to have my finger in every pie. I like working with fondant best, but here in Canada it just isn't as popular as over there. It may be because people have only had terrible fondant, so I'm trying out several different kinds to try to find the best tasting. What do you use? Do you make your own or purchase?
Again, thank you for all the wonderful advice. I feel so much more encouraged now! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!
hi jackie i noticed that you're in ontario-i am too-where are you? your cakes are flawless and the figures you've done (that i've seen) are miticulous so it's no wonder that they take time. i'm sure after you've done them more often, you'll be able to do them faster. the first times always take the longest as you're learning and figuring things out-"next time i'll do this instead of this and that will save me time". also i think that each customer that calls me i ask them what theme they're looking for, age, hobbies/interests or invitations/napkins to draw off that as inspiration (here too loads of inspiration) so if they come to me and want a 6 tier topsyturvy cake i'd explain that that is far beyond my capabilities (for now) and i wouldnt' do something i'm not comfortable doing, try to steer them into something i'm more confident about and that they can be happy with too-otherwise there is somewhere else they can go. i haven't had any issues with that. hope that helps!!
Hi Jackie, im glad i was of help to you, i know it seems overwhelming and when i was starting off i really did think i needed to be proficient in every medium but find one you like (fondant preferably as its so much easier to work with) and then the other things can come in time.
My advice would be to buy Lindy Smith's Celebrate with a Cake book or Nicholas Lodge Internation School of Sugarcraft for their fondant receipes as i find them the best to work with. They are a gelatine based fondant which is lovely and firm and completly non sticky. its basicallu dissolved gelatine in water, glucose, glycerine and confectioners sugar which can then also be easily made into gumpaste by adding CMC or gum tragacanth. two birds with one stone!!
Also in relation to dummies, the edges are sharp but the fondant makes them look rounded. basically you buy a set of round dummies and/or square ones and cover and decorate, take your photo and then peel of the fondant and start again so you only ever need one set of dummies, you just re-use them every time. also a lot of my dummies were done wit the same cover of icing - i.e. cover with one white and one pink and then adapt all the other decorations like spots, bows, figures, and then peel the spots, etc off and start with new colours on the same fondant cover- that way you get the most out of each dummy without always have to recover evey single time. you get a lot of different photos with a white cover of fondant too as it is so easily adapted. all the wedding cake pics in my profile are done with one cover of fondant and once it got really dirty i peeled it off and recovered them.
THanks again Cathy, your advice is much appreciated! I'm supprised to learn that you can use dummies with the sharp edges; I had read before that people have trouble with the edges tearing their fondant. I will give it a try for sure! I'm going to go out tomorrow and pick some up; doing up a bunch of dummy cakes makes so much sense as I'm running out of people to give cakes to who won't take advantage and expect a 'great deal' on all future cakes! Thank you.
Michelles Art, I'm in Niagara Falls. I see you are in Collingwood. Do you work out of your home or do you have a shop? I am still looking into the regulations in my area so am curious about others. Thanks for the encouragment. Everyone here is so wonderful, I'm so glad I found CC!
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY! I dont understand how-in-the-world ANYONE can actually make money using this so very time-consuming medium to make it really worth your effort. Im glad you brought up this point. Lets consider YOU, and what your dream job or hobby would be.
(I had hoped to post my opinions on this and share a possible solution with you before you woke up today, but that wasnt possible because Ill warn you... its practically a book. For those reading along looking for an answer, you might want to wait til the movie comes out! Im not attempting to break the record of longest post or anything like that, but if youve got the time to read about one tiny aspect of this business and what Ive discovered about this one point during my 37 years experience, perhaps youll find something in this thats beneficial to you as well.)
Time-consuming pristine fondant vs. productive good old-fashioned buttercream
(I have no idea what you charge, can charge in your area, or what you feel you are worth per hour, but Ill plug in some numbers for you to play around with, because whatever you charge, you are definitely worth it! Take into consideration that I dont have the exact information about the cake you are working onit could be your fondant sculpting skills and efforts on an 8 birthday cake or a tiered wedding cake. Lets assume its not the latter , and go with the 8 for example sake.)
1. Your actual cost of ALL ingredients, supplies; board, ribbon, etc., utilities: $11. (w/possibly X4 up-charge?) = $44.
2. Your prep time: mix & bake time, mix icing, mix fondant; knead, tint, & roll out time: 2.5 hrs. @ $20ph = $50.
3. Your sculpted figures you made: 8 hrs. @ $20 = $160.
4. Your time to ice, fondant, and decorate (1-3 hrs. depending on your speed) average time: 2 hrs. @ $20ph = $40.
Youre up to 12.5 hrs. labor @ $20ph = $250. + $44. for line #1 costs: $294. Total.
If based on 8 cake serving 10, thats $29.40 per serving.
If based on tiered cake serving 156, thats $1.88 per serving (not including more labor and more cost).
YOU MUST CHARGE FOR YOUR TIME, but you also dont want to underprice yourself for situations like this.
Youre limited to doing one per weekend, unless you dont sleep or have a family life. If you did it as a full-time businessonly 40 hrs. a week, you could almost make 3 1/4 of these cakes a week for a total of $955.50
(-or- round it down to 3 cakes = $882),
that is only IF you could find those rare three people that would pay you for what you are worth! I wouldnt do it, unless I absolutely felt like I needed to do something creative for fun, then I would for friends and family (for free), and maybe on the rare occasion someone was willing to pay my price.
I think there may be a solution. The way I see it, if youd like to do custom fondant work, here are a couple of options:
1. Start your own specialty bakery offering this type of custom work, but you MUST charge appropriately for your time! In a business-sense... if its not profitable, you shouldnt do it! (I know, wed all love to make cakes for FREE, just so wed have that photo to save in our albums or portfolios, but save those opportunities for fun and dont work for free in your business. If you do happen to work for free at your real job or enjoy volunteeringthats nice, but how many people tell their boss its okay to just keep my paycheck this week?... youve earned it, keep it!
2. Work for someone else at a specialty bakery who either offers this type of custom work, or wants to start offering it, but they must have a minimum order fee of $600 - $1000 to make it profitable not only for them, but for you as well. You could subcontract your skills and services to them... tell them how much you want to do each cake, each piece, or how much money you have to make on average for your time on each item youve made. Depending on your agreement with them, they might offer to pay for all of the ingredients and be willing to do all of the dirty work like the mixing, baking, and clean up in order to allow you to spend your productive time doing what youre best at which is the creative skill or fun with fondant Play-Doh! What shop wouldnt be thrilled to have your talents to help attract the type of business they may be searching for but may not be capable of providing? I know Id welcome you in a heartbeat, if I were looking to expand in that direction since this trend with fondant has gained so much popularity in recent years where it was once only rarely seen at shows or competitions. (Probably here to stay... no longer just a fad!)
Here is an example... your price $294. total
if they pay for line #1 costs: -$44.
you are paid or get to keep: $250. for each cake
(if working 40 hrs.) $250. each X3 = $750. (remember, you are limited to creating only three of these masterpieces!)
They sell for double or triple + 1/3: $1800. - $3000. (remember, their minimum is $600. - $1000.)
they gladly pay you: $750.
they get to keep: $1050. - $2250.
There is another option to consider... Is buttercream your friend? (are you pretty good with it too?)
3. Forget the time-consuming fondant and be more productive with good old-fashioned buttercream IF you truly want a profitable business instead of a semi-profitable hobby. Try these numbers on for size...
(Im only going to use Wedding Cakes in this comparison. You can improve your speed with buttercream wedding cakes if you practice, have the proper custom tools, and the know-how to use them to your advantage. Okay, sounds like a commercial, so on to my point!)
Three-tier wedding cake (approx. 150 servings) X (plug in whatever you charge) $3.50/$5. per serving = $525. - $750.
How many can you make in an 8-hour day? Realistically - X8 = $4200. - $6000.
(I whipped out 8 every Friday night within 5-8 hours back in 1978 when they probably cost less than $1. per serving and before I knew about custom tools.) Keep in mind, that doesnt include baking or delivering--Fridays are for peg and ice, and decorating, and I was the decorator
Nine months later, I moved on to another facility where I learned the most. (All the while, I had been running my own small business as a hobby since 1972, professionally since 1976.) Eventually, I was able to do 16 wedding cakes every Friday by subcontracting my skills and services to a wedding specialty shopthey were thrilled! They were in the habit of turning down wedding orders over 8 per weekend, but now they didnt have to. I tried convincing them to accept more than 16, but they were afraid to because they had to deliver them all.
It may sound unbelievable, but it is possible... X16 = $8400. - 12,000.
(probably not to the degree in a home-based kitchen, and not without several delivery people.)
So the question is... would you rather run a specialty fondant business making three cakes a week for $750. - $3000 (with 40 hrs. invested = $18.75/$75.00 per hour.)?
or a buttercream wedding cake only business making 16 cakes 1 day a week with the potential to make up to $12,000 (with 8 hrs. invested = $1500. per hour)? (if you didnt bake your own cakes, but purchased wholesale) Or
(with 9 hrs. invested = $1333.33 per hour)? (if you did bake your own cakes with the right oven). Youd need 96 layers in three different sizes (our smallest oven could easily hold 120 of these approx. sizes: 14, 10, & 6 or 240 6 = in & out in 30 minutes, so the other 30 minutes would be spent mixing batter and greasing + filling pans).
Id say I cant afford to do fondant cakes too! Dont get me wrongMoney isnt everything. You have to do what makes you happy and you absolutely cant think that money is the name of the game if it drives you crazy and affects your health, well-being, and sanity... it isnt worth it. Perhaps you are the kind of person with enough ambition to try to tackle all three of the options Ive listed simultaneously. (Option 1 at home on the side, option 2 full time with four 10 hour days M-TH, and option 3 on Fridays! It is possible, and that way youd get to experience the best of both worlds while deciding what works best for you.)
Im always up for a small challenge or a testing experiment to validate my own findings and experiences. One of these experiments I did was a comparison with jumbo decorated cupcakes. Here were the results simplified...
5 different very fancy, custom fondant designs: 11.25 hrs. @ $10. - $20. per hour = $112.50 - $225.00
(divided by 5, would have to charge average of $22.50 - $45. ea. to be profitable!)
5 different BC designs, decorated exactly the same as fondant ones, but piped instead of hand sculpted: (cant find)
(would have to charge for actual time instead of average) You get the idea (BC=faster/cheaper), something like this:
1. $8. - $16. $14. - $28.
2. $10. - $20. $12. - $24.
3. $12. - $24. $17. - $34.
4. $9. - $18. $29. - $58.
5. $11. - $22. $39. - $78.
Wow! Just imagine how many bc wedding cakes in 11.25 hours could have been completed instead!!!!
In my opinion, and to (finally) answer your question; How much practice before you get quicker?
With fondant, Id say probably never, and heres why...
It takes ___ amount of time to roll out a snake or rope shape with dough
(sure you could do it faster with an extruder or a tool designed to make it faster), but just imagine how many of those same size lines you could pipe with a bag of buttercream during the same amount of time. (If someone could convince me that its possible to learn to do it faster with practice or experience, Id like to see that experiment or challenge! I think certain things just require a LOT of patience and MANY hours to complete.)
Sorry, for the text wall... Ive used up all of my words for the day (or week!)Unlimited
Do not get discouraged. I worked full time, was a student, and mother to an 11 year old and 2 year old in addition to being engaged. You have to have great organization and time management skills. I have since graduated but I plan in advance for my cakes so that it is not so over whelming. Your work is fantastic, so please hang on in there.
Unlimited, thanks for the lesson! That said - I watched Mike McCrary form some animals out of chocolate at a speed that made my jaw drop. So you do get faster. Just not as fast as the buttercream.
But in those 16 cakes or whatever it was - there's also the time involved in giving them a tasting and dealing with the bride. Don't leave that out. On the other hand one of the problems with a novelty cake business is you get too many inquiries from people who cannot afford your cake but for some reason will take tons of your time because they're either too short sided or too embarrassed to admit it's out of their price range. I think many of them just can't get it through their heads that what they want is going to be that much and talking to me about it even longer isn't going to change anything.
I would love to be like Charm City Cakes and just tell them if you aren't willing to cough up $2,000, forget it. That would definitely shorten some of these phone calls and save the time of working up so many quotes!
Then there are the people who want an inferior product... I quoted $550 for a $900 cake because I wanted it in my portfolio. They emailed me back and said kthx bye because the place down the street was going to do the "same cake" for $200. I think they thought they were actually being clever and chiding me and another place for our crazy prices. It was not very nice of me, but the phrase "same cake" set me off and I assured them they weren't going to be getting the same cake. And I wanted to say I've seen the work of the other company and your cake is going to be a big sloppy buttercream mess -lol. But that's probably all they wanted, because I'm sure they looked at her website. I think they never even understood what I was proposing.
Oops...was that all out loud? Sorry for the vent.
[quote="howsweet"]I watched Mike McCrary form some animals out of chocolate at a speed that made my jaw drop. So you do get faster. Just not as fast as the buttercream.[quote]
[quote="howsweet"]But in those 16 cakes or whatever it was - there's also the time involved in giving them a tasting and dealing with the bride. Don't leave that out.[quote]
No, not in my case. That's where I talk about subcontracting yourself out to a specialty wedding shop... they take the orders, deal with all customers, deliver all cakes... pretty much everything. You just work as the decorator on Fridays filling the order for "their" Saturday wedding brides! Sweet deal.
Unlimited, thanks for the reply! You certainly bring up some things to think about. The thing is, I really like working with fondant and am much faster at that than buttercream! Buttercream takes me forever to get it as smooth as I'd like, whereas fondant just goes on and it's smooth and finished in a jiff. The part that is taking me so long are the moulded figures, which really can't be created out of buttercream. I guess if I was to sell my cakes, I would just have to charge a lot for any custom figures. But clearly I'll have to keep practicing the buttercream...it just makes sense! Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed post; it gives me some things to think about!
Ditto the comments and advice that's on this thread.
From your initial post, I was wondering if you had some artificial standard you thought you had to meet? I mean, when we watch 8 hour cake challenges on tv, or see duff's crew do a huge monstronsity of a cake in one episode, do we think all of that work is done in minutes? Then when it takes us all day to achieve and finish just a few figures, do we think "geesh, I must be bad at this because I'm so slow?"
No .... you're very meticulous and it shows.
You're selling bells and whistles. A client is not going to get those bells and whistles for the same price as crepe paper and scotch tape.
My husband is a woodworker. I've seen him spend HOURS on perfecting one part of one part of one part of a piece of furniture. Does it mean he's slow or bad at it? No, quite the opposite. It means he's really good at what he does.
The more you do, the faster you'll get. It's small stuff - don't sweat it.
I'm slow at decorating, too. I don't sell cakes, and I don't bake every day or every week, so, of course, in order to achieve my perception of perfection, I have to do things more slowly than other people do.
Indydebi you're probably right; I am expecting too much of myself and get frustrated. I have not been decorating long and have just been learning by trial and error. The cakes in my photos here on CC are the only ones I've done (except for latest which isn't up yet) and each one was a new technique I had to learn by just doing it. So maybe I'm expecting too much of myself...hmm...you're probably right. In the light of a new day, it's easier to see.