Hi! I was thinking about taking the wilton cake decorating classes at Michael's and was wondering if anyone had taken them and what they thought.
I started out a little over a year ago with making Cake bites and Cake pops. I then started making Cake Bite Cakes. I have never had any formal cake decorating training or taken any classes before. My cake bite cakes are becoming pretty popular. I think I would like to start learning the basics of cake decorating, because I think that will just help me become a better cake pop and cake bite maker. I also would like to learn the basics of working with fondant, because I cover my styrofoam circles with fondant when I am creating my cake bite cakes, and I have a lot of trouble working with it!
If anyone has taken the class and recommends it or can recommend another beginners class that I can take, I would appreciate the advice, thanks!
Many recommend the Wilton courses. There are over 9000 threads about them. Put "wilton courses" in the search box at the top of the page and hit Enter. You will see from the menu at left of the results the threads, posts, images, etc. I'm sure there's something in there that will help you.
I have taken all the Wilton classes. At the time I had been doing very basic decorating for about 10 years and was just starting to learn fondant, royal icing, etc. Some of the classes I did not learn much, others I did. Since I had young kids at the time, the best thing about the class was having several uninterrupted hours to practice my hobby! The classes are not expensive especially if you pick up your supplies gradually using the Michael's weekly coupons. Sometimes the classes are even advertised at a reduced price. That is how I took all mine. Another benefit is having a live person to answer your questions and evaluate your work.
In the meantime, there is a wealth of info on this site that various generous decorators have taken the time to share. Youtube has lots of demos too, if you have the time to wade through them (some are a waste of time).
I also enjoyed meeting local bakers/decorators at the class! The friendships that were established by those who continued the classes with me were worth it also.
One more thought. I did have a friend who didn't enjoy her class - but it was because of the instructor. If you get an instructor you don't like, then ask who is instructing the next time you sign up so that you can avoid that person (or go to a different Michael's, which is what my friend did).
I think there is someone on this site who teaches for Wilton. I am not sure if they teach you fondant in the beginner's class. Hopefully, someone here who knows that answer will be able to tell us if they do. I watch a lot of you tube videos and have learned most of cake decorating from them.
In Lesson 2, you work with fondant and gumpaste to make flowers and stuff, but you don't actually cover a cake in fondant until Lesson 3.
However, if you would like to get some really good, hands-on tips, then I think the lessons are a good value, IF you have a good instructor. I took Lesson 1 at our local Michaels, but the instructor didn't seem to really follow the lesson plan. As a total newbie, I learned a lot, but I ended up retaking Lesson 1, and taking the next 2, at a local cake decorating shop.
The lessons gave me a good grounding in cake decorating, but the internet (including this site) has been my best instructor.
I loved my Wilton classes, but then again I had a great instructor. That is very key... I tried taking a different Wilton course over at AC Moore and the instructor sounded like Jennifer Tilly on steroids... it was horrible. So, I cam back to Michaels and my orginal instructor and she taught me a lot. I can still go to her with questions. So, make sure you like and can communicate with your instructor.
I've taken a couple, and did enjoy them! I think it was a good introduction to the world of cake decorating (especially since I had no experience whatsosever). They require you to take the first course in order to take any of the others (Decorating Basics, I think?), but after that you can skip around, so you could do as I did and just skip right to the fondant class (which is class 3, I believe). My instructor was very helpful and had all kinds of tips to share, which was nice. She was also very encouraging, and helped people one on one a lot.
I think my only (minor) complaint is that there's a lot of Wilton self-promotion the whole time (which is to be expected)--but it can get a little tedious seeing "ads" for Wilton products in your class booklet! ;)
You could check and see if there are other cake shops that offer classes in your area, too. I found out later that a local shop offers classes in my neck of the woods, too. Good luck!
I took course one at Michaels and courses two and three at Joann.
Michaels booked as many people as they could into the class, it was way too full for the space, and the instructor was useless, she was just basically reading out the book to us. When she didn't show up for the final week or let any of us know, I knew I wasn't going to take any more courses with her.
At Joann I was one of two students, the instructor was so lovely and helpful, and had a lot of real world experience to share.
On the Wilton courses themselves - it gets expensive and honestly a lot of the techniques are outdated in my opinion. It's really more about selling you a lot of Wilton tools you'll never use, you'll learn more taking Craftsy courses online.
Basically you have nothing to lose but time. Taking the Wilton courses is the least expensive way to be introduced to the basics of cake decorating with a hands-on class structure.
The courses are standardized, but the teachers can range from 30+ years with fabulous experience and tips to someone who just completed all 4 courses. The courses are inexpensive because they are designed for the beginning cake decorator, NOT the expert. Wilton does make the courses into a long commercial for their products, but you can decide what you wish to purchase as you go. I still utilize many of the basic tools and pans purchased during my courses in 2010 and 2011.
If you live in an area that has a specialty cake supply store, call the store and ask what they charge for classes. You may prefer to pay more for a shorter class with a more experienced teacher, but I don't really see any downside to taking the Wilton classes.
I have taken Levels 1 - 3 cake decorating at Michaels. I loved them! I took them brand new to all things cake decorating and learned so much.
Basically the same things that people have already said...you save a lot of money using the coupons and signing up during promotions. I paid between $10-$25 for each class. And your instructor is what is going to make the class enjoyable. Mine was extremely nice and when she would show off the Wilton products she would be very straight forward with us and say if it's actually good or not. If she thought the product was a waste of money she would still show it like she was supposed to and then tell us what to get instead and explain why she didn't like it.
I highly recommend the classes!
Thanks everyone for all your very helpful advice and comments! I think I am going to try out a class or two! Hey, what can it hurt? I have three young kids, so like one of you stated, at least I can get away for a few hours a week, kid free to have some fun learning some new things!