How Did You Start Out Decorating?

Decorating By cakefat Updated 16 Sep 2012 , 10:22pm by jgifford

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cakefat Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 2:37pm
post #1 of 20

I see some incredible talent on this site and just awesome, gorgeous cakes. They're truly inspiring.

I can't imagine that someone of you ever were just 'beginning'!

I'm just wondering how some of you started out into cake decorating? Did you take classes, like the Wilton or PME Knightsbridge/Squires Kitchen (or other types of classes) to spark your talent? And then just practice like crazy afterward?

I'm very interesting in hearing how you got started and the path that has lead you to where you are today.

Thank you in advance!!!

19 replies
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AnnieCahill Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 2:47pm
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I started about 15 years ago. It was a hobby then and it's a hobby now. I used to work at a retail store where they sold the Wilton yearbook and I picked up one and that's what got me interested. I took two classes. Back then Wilton only had three classes. I didn't take the last one because I went away to college. I had no idea that cake decorating would explode into what it is now.

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macdacruz Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 3:11pm
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I have started when my son turned one in 1977. I saw the cake that my cousin ordered to celebrate her daughter's and my son's birthday as their birthdays are a week apart. When I saw the cake, I said: "I will make cakes like this". I attended three classes with a lady and then I taught myself with books and DVD's. It started as a hobby and today I live out of my little business that I run from home. This is my passion. What a pity I could not start working as a business long ago, but unfortunately I was scared to leave the security of a monthly salary with the "unknown" self employment as the responsibilities in those days were great. If I only knew then that I could do it... I would had started twenty some years ago. I have been doing it for 36 years already but only about 20 as a business and enjoy every minute of it.

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Nur3 Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 3:24pm
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Hi there I think the 1st thing you have to have is a passion for it, I started about 5 yrs ago and it all started as a hobby until a friend registered me as a bussiness in Australia.. I am still not very confident but I surprise myself every time.. Just go with ur gut and take a class if you like or like I did I just bought a few books and google and YouTube is a wonderful thing!! Happy baking all the best

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hbquikcomjamesl Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 3:48pm
post #5 of 20

My mother always did birthday cakes, using the candy letters that come stuck to a sheet of paper, and/or using a stencil and various types of sprinkles.

And both she and my grandmother used the cold-process buttercream recipe that's been on the back of the C&H powdered sugar box since before most of us were born, always mixing by hand. Occasionally, my mom would use a boxed frosting mix (before canned frostings drove them off the grocery shelf), and then, later, canned frostings, but the simple, infinitely malleable recipe on the back of the powdered sugar box was something we always came back to, and I liked the taste and texture better than that of any of the fancy whipped buttercreams and such that the bakeries used.

From the time I understood what a piping bag was, I figured I could get better and cheaper results by piping my own decorations instead of using candy letters. I think on one occasion, I also used a piping syringe (that came in a set with a cookie press we bought, and used non-standard tips), but quickly understood that they were far more awkward than a piping bag, and left a bigger mess to clean up.

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Rach80 Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 8:05pm
post #6 of 20

With my grandma. She did wedding cakes, buttercream only. But when my sister got marries she wanted fondant and I tried it. Loved it. And can't get enough of it.

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SRumzis Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 8:27pm
post #7 of 20

I decided to make the cake for my own baby shower, and got hooked! University of YouTube all the way. Edna de la Cruz is awesome, as is Linda McClure, and all the main CC peeps are an invaluable resource, of course!

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Annabakescakes Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 9:33pm
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I started in 1988, when I was 8 years old, with a yellow copy of the 1977, 1978, 1979(the year I was born!) and 1980 Wilton Year Books. And some equally old Wilton tips, pastes, reusable bags, flower nails and couplers. They were my new step dad's sister's, who had died of breast cancer before we met him. They were my mom's then, but she never had the patience, but I loved to tinker with it. I still have the set, for sentimental reasons!

Even then, I saw they were "dated" but learned how to do all of those "techniques" and I sold my first birthday cake when I was 12 and my first wedding when I was 14. It never occurred to me it was illegal, until I was 27! I was working with fondant then, and much better, but after I determined I really wanted to do it as a business, I got heaps better, and I licensed my commercial kitchen last year. We hope to have a retail storefront soon!

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Apti Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 11:35pm
post #9 of 20

All the way from Singapore to San Diego, California via the marvel that is the internet. Welcome to the forum, cakefat.

If you click on the "www" link in the little boxes at the bottom of my post, you can see my cake journey. My career was in specialized medical equipment for chronic pain and severely disabled children and adults. I never had a hobby in my life except for reading everything I could get my hands on. At the age of 56, I had long since given up any artistic endeavors.

In February 2010, I found a Michaels coupon for 60% off any regular priced item. (Since I'd never set foot in a craft store in my life, I didn't know that they had 40-50% coupons every day.) I went with my niece to see what I could buy with a 60% off coupon and ended up buying the Wilton 50 piece tool caddy. Then my niece saw a Wilton cake decorating flyer and I signed up for the first Wilton class.

Here are my first through sixth cakes made during the 4 Wilton courses. (The final "Mermaid" cake took about 30 hours to complete. It was the proudest "artistic" moment of my life!)
First cake:
Second cake:
Third cake:
First fondant cake:
Second fondant, first stacked cake:
Final, "graduation" cake at the end of my 4th course:

And this is my biggest project to date--a 100th Birthday cake display for my darling "gramma" ( (sister's mother-in-law). This was made a year ago in September 2011. It was my honor to make this as a gift for this wonderful woman.
Cake is a hobby that excites my passion, interest, and challenges me with every new project or technique and recipe. It brings joy to everyone who receives one of my hobby cakes. The most unexpected benefit? The wonderful new friends I've made at home and online.

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Elcee Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 2:24am
post #10 of 20

I wanted to make my daughter's wedding cake. Nothing like starting big, huh? Starting in November, 2007, I took all the Wilton classes offered at the time and made that cake, including gumpaste stargazer lilies, in June, 2008. And if I do say so myself, it wasn't too shabby for having 6 months experience. Of course, I really had no idea what could have gone wrong, which is probably a good thing icon_smile.gif.

I've become completely hooked! It was illegal until last year to sell cakes from a home kitchen in Colorado so I focused on competitons. Now that we can sell from home, I am in the process of taking my hobby to the next level and selling a few cakes a year.

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cakecraving Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 4:23am
post #11 of 20

I am a newby. Not near as experienced as some of these lovely decorators. I took three Wilton classes at Joannes craft store. Fell in love I have been doing this for 1 year and 3 months. I only do this as a hobby but hopefully one day it will become more.

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Crazy-Gray Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 8:01am
post #12 of 20

What a lovely nostalgic thread icon_smile.gif I started just less than 3 years ago now, made a cake for a friend in work, Haribos face, but I couldnt get the hair black enough (using liquid colour) so I googled how to make black icing and then I had to test it something else didnt work right so just as a hobby I kept researching and playing till people started offering to buy them! Now Im stuck!! Lol but I love it icon_smile.gif 90% of my learning came from here and the rest youtube and lots of practice!

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MimiFix Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 11:31am
post #13 of 20

I am totally impressed with each of you - your determination, motivation, and beautiful results! What makes each person here special, is the commitment to fulfill an inner passion, no fancy degree necessary.

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cakefat Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 12:27pm
post #14 of 20

Thank you all for your replies, fantastic stories, advice and suggestions. I've checked out the links and photos and again I'm more than impressed- and encouraged. So a big thank you for that.

Thank you for the Edna de la Cruz videos...she's great and I've been watching her all day. I'll start on the others tomorrow. lol.

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vgcea Posted 12 Sep 2012 , 4:01am
post #15 of 20

My dad gave me my first cookbook when I was about 13. I grew up in Africa so we didn't always have an oven. The alternative was a very interesting oven: Huge pot, filled with sand, heated till it was SUPER hot; the pan was then placed on the sand and covered tightly. I don't know who came up with it but that contraption worked because the sand got super hot and kind of diffused the heat so there was not one hot spot like if I were to use a pan on the stove directly. Ofcourse I always ended up with burnt bottoms but I didn't know better. My dad noticed I was serious about baking so I got the chance to use the real oven when I was a little older. Back home ALL my mixing was done by hand. I remember days when my arms would hurt from creaming all that sugar and butter.

The first time I sold cakes was when I was about 18. My friend and I had decided to start a short-lived Valentine's day business. Just to make some cakes for that day. A couple of days before, she stood me up, after we had secured so many orders. I decided to go ahead and make the cakes. One word: Disaster! icon_lol.gif

I baked off and on for years, stopped during college (no oven in the dorms) and started again after college using box mixes. I always knew I wanted to do more with cakes but wasn't sure how to get started.

October 2011, I was at Michael's shopping for beads (used to make jewelry) and found the flyers for the Wilton Courses. Took the first class and was hooked. I also decided then to stop using mixes and go back to scratch baking like I did back home. November 2011, Moms saw my Wilton Fondant Course final cake and other cakes I had made and encouraged me to make my dream of becoming a cake lady a reality. Around that time I also signed up for some business courses. December 2011, Moms became my first investor, January 2012 my company was born and we're growing icon_biggrin.gif

Sheesh! That was LONG icon_lol.gif

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Mikel79 Posted 12 Sep 2012 , 10:43am
post #16 of 20

I was a stay at home for the first 1 1/2 of my son's life. While he was down for a nap I came upon one of the many cake shows. I was sucked in.

5 years later here I am. Here is a picture of my most recent:

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h2o_db Posted 16 Sep 2012 , 8:58am
post #17 of 20

I've always loved to cook. On my 16th birthday my mom offered me a book translated in french of Debbie Brown and loved the cakes she made in that book. Never had the chance to make any of them but it was always in the corner of my head that I would make some one day... I finally had the chance when my goddaughter turned 2 (she is now 5) since my sister in law had just given birth to an other child she didn't have time to bake a cake so I offered to do it. I did a turtle cake. Since then I've made some of the cakes for my godchildren and nieces. I'm doing this as a hobby but some people at birthday parties are more and more interested by these cakes and start asking questions. These type of cakes aren't very popular here in Belgium so it's quite hard to find classes so thank God for internet and all it's resources and I have to be very imaginative to find other ways to do stuff because we don't have as many materials or food items as you have (Think I'm going to take a trip to the US with an empty suitcase one day icon_wink.gif )
My motto is "Why make it simple when you can make it complicated", just love the challenge and want to take it a step further every time...

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Goreti Posted 16 Sep 2012 , 9:19am
post #18 of 20

My dad loved sweets so I used to make the desserts. I've been baking since my teens but never did much decorating excepts for using fruits, shaved chocolate etc. Last year for Mother's Day my daughter enrolled me in the Wilton cake decorating class and I was hooked. I make cakes for my family & friends only and give them as gifts. I don't think I could do this for a living but really enjoy decorating a cake every once in awhile.

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debidehm Posted 16 Sep 2012 , 5:45pm
post #19 of 20

My Mom used to do cakes back in the day. All butter cream. I would sit there amazed watching her. She sure could kick out those roses! When I was in my 30's, a co-worker was asking around about wedding cakes, and I told her my Mom did them. My Mom was willing to make it, but told me she wanted me to help her with it. I had no clue what I was doing, but could follow direction from watching her make all the cakes prior to this. It was fun doing it with her, and a great bonding experience. The cake turned out great, and I was so proud of it!

Fast forward about 10 years, and another wedding cake presented itself with another co-worker. I hadn't done a cake since that first wedding cake, but felt I would give it another go...this time solo. The design was simple, and I consulted with my Mom about how to go about it, and went at it! I did have her help me deliver it and to "spot" me while I stacked it at the case something went wrong. Again, it turned out great! After that, I did about 3 more wedding cakes and a couple birthday cakes in a 7 year time span. I worked full time, and just did it as a hobby.

A little over 2 years ago, another co-work was looking for a wedding cake. I offered to make it, and almost regretted it! She wanted FONDANT! I had never worked with fondant (had avoided it like the plague) and had no idea how to work with it. I was old school butter cream all the way! By this time my Mom had suffered a major stroke and is now paralyzed, so I wouldn't be able to experiment with fondant with her (she had never worked with it either). So, I looked up fondant recipes, looked at every tutorial I could find on how to work with it, cover a cake with it, and how to make the flowers the bride requested. It would also be the first square cake I ever made! I had a few hiccups with it, but in the end I think it turned out good for being a fondant virgin! The cake is the Cali-lily cake in my photos. I'm now hooked on Fondant!

I love working with the stuff! All the pics in my gallery are cakes that I've done within the last 1 1/2 years. I'm making more cakes now, and am really enjoying it. I've learned pretty much what I know from researching tutorials on the computer and asking questions here. I still have so much to learn, but having fun doing it! The only regrets I have is that I can't share this with my Mom. She really enjoys seeing what I'm doing, but I just wish she could do it with me. She used to be so talented, and this is a medium I think she would have loved using!

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jgifford Posted 16 Sep 2012 , 10:22pm
post #20 of 20

I started baking about the time I was big enough to reach the knobs on the stove. My grandmother got me into baking cakes when I was going to her house every day after school in the 5th grade. The first really important cake I made was my oldest dd's first birthday cake.

I got into decorating about 15 years ago. I saw some beautiful cakes and thought "I can do that". And I was hooked. I didn't realize there were classes or youtube videos or books. I figured out on my own how to do the things I wanted. Then about 6 years ago, my dd wanted me to make her wedding cake. I had a year's notice and became obsessed. I spent hours and hours researching cakes on the internet. Her cake was my first fondant, first tiered, first wedding . . . . well, you name it, it was my first. Had I known what I was getting into, I would have run screaming into the night. icon_rolleyes.gif

Needless, to say, it has gone from an obsession to an addiction. I finally started my cake business in January. Then in April, my dh and I accepted transfers with our company to a different location. My cake business had to be put on hold and it's been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Even so, I've made a couple of cakes. I made cake pops for a company cookout and was amazed at how many people had never heard of them. Yep - - already making plans. icon_biggrin.gif

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