How Do I Get Rid Of Bad Habbits And Sloppiness?

Decorating By Julie_S Updated 24 Apr 2010 , 3:56am by Julie_S

Julie_S Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 3:05pm
post #1 of 13

Hi,
I'm really upset here. I took 3 Wilton classes a few years ago and then got a job as a decorator in a grocery store and worked for 1.5 years. That was about 6 years ago. I started practicing again at home and looking at pictures I took of the cakes I did when I worked as a decorator. I applied for a job in an upscale bakery but have yet to show the manager my work. After looking at my pictures, I think I do not have what it takes to be a decorator in an upscale bakery if they are looking for accuracy and very detailed neatness PLUS speed. I'm not sure how fast they decorate there. But I did see their cakes and they are much neater and tighter than the stuff I did at my job in the grocery store. I think I'll go for the interview but just tell the manager that my skills are not up to par for the job.

Or, maybe I'm wrong about this and it is a matter of having to work more slowly???? Let me explain. When I worked in the grocery store bakery, we never, ever, ever would do things like wipe off the tip after making each petal for a rose, as it says to do in the Wilton course I book. In the bakery we would NEVER use things like a cake dividing wheel or a garland marker. We did everything free hand - no measuring or taking the time to mark the cake for even distribution of garland or whatever. As a result of not taking the time to do these things for so long, my decorations look sloppy to me. And when I practice at home, and have the bag in my hand, something comes over me and just do not want to take the time to think it through before I start piping.
So I guess my question is, when I see perfectly precise piping on pictures, is that a result of the person taking lots of time and measuring it out?
(There was one decorator where I worked who actually could pipe with amazing precision with speed. I don't see myself ever being able to do that.)

I have included a picture of a very precise cake done by somebody else. I hope this person does not mind that I posted a picture of his or her cake and rather takes it as a compliment as it is a beautiful cake! The scalloped trim around the cake is impeccable. I cannot get this kind of accuracy free hand. Is it possible to do this kind of precise work free hand with speed? Or do you really need to slow it down and mark the cake or whatever? I practiced on board last night until 1am and drove myself crazy.
Thanks for reading,
Julie
LL
LL

12 replies
dalis4joe Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 3:13pm
post #2 of 13

Hi....

Yes it's possible.... your mission now is to re-train yourself... but to decorate... the right way
You need to start slowly..doing it the right way.. and then work on speed (which actually comes with time and practice) but don't jeopardize the quality for quantity...

It's better to have 2 perfectly decorated cakes than 10 sloppy ones...

Start back at one....
Good Luck

jenbug1 Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 3:25pm
post #3 of 13

As far as the interview goes.. NEVER tell a possible employer that you are not "good enough" or "up to par" let them decide that for themselves!! If you are a hard worker... tell them that.. if you are someone who likes a challenge.. tell them that. but never tell them you are not good enough! icon_smile.gif good luck!!

Sagebrush Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 3:51pm
post #4 of 13

What jenbug said. If you tell them you're not good enough, you guarantee you won't get the job. If the employer doesn't think you're good enough, you still might not, but at least you've got a chance. There is no point in giving up before you start. The boss might see potential and be willing to train you in their style. Go, and do your best with a good attitude.

indydebi Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 4:27pm
post #5 of 13

I've been doing cakes for 30 years. I've NEVER used a garland marker and I've never measured out where things need to go. So don't think you "have" to use these tools or take the time to use these tools to make cakes. yes, they are a great help, as all tools are, but not a 'have to use' thing.

How do you just eyeball something? I view a round cake as a clock and divide it that way. FLowers at 3,6,9 and 12 or maybe at 2,4,6,8,10,12 ... depending on the flower and the size of the cake. Super easy to eyeball it when you view it as a clock! thumbs_up.gif

Many bakeries are happy to have someone who isn't all-the-way trained in cake decorating because they see that as less they have to "unlearn" you as you learn THEIR methods and styles.

Emphasize what you CAN do. Having a decorating background means you know the basics and they dont' have to start from scratch to train you, which is a cost savings to them.

hsmomma Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 5:03pm
post #6 of 13

Ditto what everyone said. As an employer, if a potential employee ever told me they might not be up to par...the interview would be over. I may continue on with the interview...but you would never be hired. I probably wouldn't have heard a word you said after that.
But, somebody interviewing that says that they learn quickly or are a hard worker...I would see their potential.
The other thing...have some confidence. If you don't have any...fake some. If you don't have confidence in yourself you simply can't ask an employer who doesn't know you...to have any in you if you don't.

Now...go apply for the job and know that there is ALWAYS a learning curve to a new position. Give yourself the chance and give them the chance to make their decision...Good luck!

Julie_S Posted 23 Apr 2010 , 3:56pm
post #7 of 13

Hi, I put my responses in bold below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I've been doing cakes for 30 years. I've NEVER used a garland marker and I've never measured out where things need to go. So don't think you "have" to use these tools or take the time to use these tools to make cakes. yes, they are a great help, as all tools are, but not a 'have to use' thing.

**********************************

I realize that one does not HAVE to use any tool. My thoughts were more along the line of, "Do I NEED to use these things to get my cakes to look as accurate in placement as the pictures I see online like the one I posted."

************************************

How do you just eyeball something? I view a round cake as a clock and divide it that way. FLowers at 3,6,9 and 12 or maybe at 2,4,6,8,10,12 ... depending on the flower and the size of the cake. Super easy to eyeball it when you view it as a clock! thumbs_up.gif


*************************
The clock idea is a good method. Thanks!
What I still don't understand is things like the scallop outline on top of a cake. I used to do these by hand and no measuring at the bakery all of the time. But they were not evenly spaced like the one in the picture, and therefore did not look as good. I'm wondering if most people would need to use either stencil or other kind of marker to get the scallop outline so precise. Last night I practiced this on a board and could not get the roundness to be exactly the same on all scallops. I did it over and over again freehand to no avail. It looked ok but not like the picture.

************************************


Many bakeries are happy to have someone who isn't all-the-way trained in cake decorating because they see that as less they have to "unlearn" you as you learn THEIR methods and styles.


*****************
True - some are like this. They don't want to have to re-train. I can see the point of this. I think this particular manager is looking to get a lot for the buck - she's looking for skills beyond what her current staff has - I think.
****************************

Emphasize what you CAN do. Having a decorating background means you know the basics and they dont' have to start from scratch to train you, which is a cost savings to them.




**********************
I hope and wish that is the case in my situation right now!
Thanks!

Julie_S Posted 23 Apr 2010 , 4:03pm
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagebrush

What jenbug said. If you tell them you're not good enough, you guarantee you won't get the job. If the employer doesn't think you're good enough, you still might not, but at least you've got a chance. There is no point in giving up before you start. The boss might see potential and be willing to train you in their style. Go, and do your best with a good attitude.





I agree that it would be to your benefit to not start off the interview by telling them that you're not good enough. I think what I might do is talk to this manager first and see exactly what she is looking for. If it is clear in no uncertain terms that I'm not up to that skill level, then I will tell her that I'm not but that I love decorating and would love to work there and that I'm dying to learn more. What's the point in telling her I can do 3-d cakes, for example, if I cannot? If an order comes in for one, I would not be able to produce. The learning curve would be too steep for me personally. In this particular case, I get the feeling that this manager's idea of a cake decorator is someone who is extremely fluent in all aspects of decorating - piping skills, placement, creativity, architecture ans sculpting, and free-hand drawing - not just cartoon type drawing which is what I've done.
But I do see your point in not selling yourself short.

JohnnyCakes1966 Posted 23 Apr 2010 , 4:23pm
post #9 of 13

The picture you posted looks freehand to me. If you look closely, all of the loops are not the same size (for example, the 2nd loop on the bottom is much smaller than the others). Some people can "eye" things better than others, while some people need to use more tools to get the same results. My advice...

MAKE yourself slow down and pay attention to what you're doing. Did you ever take piano lessons? NO ONE sits down and plays Beethoven, Mozart, etc, at correct speed the first time through. You take it slowly at first, work work work the parts that give you problems, and increase your speed as you learn....of course, that's assuming you have the base talent to start with. Believe it or not, your fingers have "memory" and will instinctively start to remember where the keys are so you don't have to think so much about it.

The same is true for me with cake decorating. If you can't eye things very well, train yourself by using tools. Once you get the "feel" of it, you'll be able to set the tools aside and work freehand (and faster). Others might have a different opinion, but that's my advice.

And by ALL means, do NOT tell the interviewer that you don't think you can do the job!!! You might as well not even go on the interview because you simply will NOT get the job! Go in confidently with the talents and skills you possess, and let THEM decide if you have what it takes to work for them.

TexasSugar Posted 23 Apr 2010 , 4:31pm
post #10 of 13

When you say scallops are you talking about the shell (on bottom) and reverse shell (on top) borders?

Here is some directions for the reverse shell...

http://www.wilton.com/technique/Reverse-Shell

The even-ness on these is going to come from using an even amount of presure on the bag and keeping that consistant for each one. That comes with time and practice, and while some can do it fast I think sometimes it helps to slow down and pay more attention to how you are doing things.

I'd also suggest looking into the Wilton classes as they can help you with borders and such and you will have someone standing there that can show you what you may be doing wrong.

Kitagrl Posted 23 Apr 2010 , 4:47pm
post #11 of 13

It just takes practice.

I actually do worse when I measure and mark than when I eyeball. haha. To do the scallops on top of the cake in your picture I'd probably just mark the corners with a toothpick or something and then eyeball each side as I went.

The key is really practice...when you are comfortable with your bag of icing, then it will come alot more natural to you to do artwork on cake. A certain amount of it is artistic ability...if you cannot draw an even square on a piece of paper with a pen, it might be hard to do it on a cake without marking it ahead of time.

Train your eyes to notice distances on cake....also to mentally divide the cake into sections...always notice at all times how far your tip is from the edge, etc. It gets easier!

Borders become very easy with practice...

Yeah. Practice. Keep it up! You can do it. (PS I don't wipe my tips off after each petal either! Only as needed.)

Julie_S Posted 24 Apr 2010 , 3:53am
post #12 of 13

[quote="TexasSugar"]When you say scallops are you talking about the shell (on bottom) and reverse shell (on top) borders?

TexasSugar,

No, I don't mean the shells. When I say "scallops", I'm talking about the curvey things that go around the cake but only on the top. Not the 4 loopy things on each point, but rather the "C" shapes that go around the top of the cake. On the long sides there are 6 of them and on the short sides there are 3 of them. As I said, I used to do these a lot where I worked, but they didn't come out this precisely placed. I don't know. Every one of my cakes sold, so I can't figure out if I'm just being too critical of my own stuff or what. Maybe this cake in the picture is not perfect either but it looks that way when you look at it because it's so wonderful as a whole.

Julie

Julie_S Posted 24 Apr 2010 , 3:56am
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasSugar

When you say scallops are you talking about the shell (on bottom) and reverse shell (on top) borders?




TexasSugar,

No, I don't mean the shells. When I say "scallops", I'm talking about the curvey things that go around the cake but only on the top. Not the 4 loopy things on each point, but rather the "C" shapes that go around the top of the cake. On the long sides there are 6 of them and on the short sides there are 3 of them. As I said, I used to do these a lot where I worked, but they didn't come out this precisely placed. I don't know. Every one of my cakes sold, so I can't figure out if I'm just being too critical of my own stuff or what. Maybe this cake in the picture is not perfect either but it looks that way when you look at it because it's so wonderful as a whole.

Julie

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