Craftsy Visits the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show!

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Cake Decorating | Comments


“We’re going on up, to Oklahoma,
To the best sugar show, that’s no mistake,
Yes, we’re going on up, to Oklahoma,
Where we’ll finally get a piece of the cake.”

 

Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show:  winner Empress of the East by Vivan Pham

Floating down the stairs to revamped Broadway show tunes—courtesy of Martin Howard, aka Chocolatina—I enjoyed my first taste of the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show. Run by the formidable Kerry Vincent, OSSAS, and its companion show, the Grand National Wedding Cake Competition, boast an impressive caliber of competitor: from enterprising teens like Angela Lewis, whose shimmering, sculpted entry “Zebra in a Field” won second prize, to uber-professionals like Vivian Pham, whose elaborate, hand-painted and piped “Empress of the East” won the grand prize of over $20,000 in cash.

 

Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show: Teddy Bear Gift Box by Nancy Ferguson

While admiring a cheeky piñata cake, bedecked with all colors of rice paper fringe, I struck up a conversation with decorator Nancy Ferguson, who was competing in the semi-professional division with a tiered non-wedding cake. After less than two years in the cake world, Nancy’s entry, “Teddy Bear Gift Box,” was adorable, let alone technically impeccable, and deservedly took home a pretty blue ribbon. At my request, we went over to check out her handiwork: the fur is made from short strips of chocolate brown fondant, each hand cut—a labor of love if ever there was one. Nancy says she borrowed the technique from another decorator, with her express permission of course, a testament to the generosity of the cake community. For the lacy borders, she used paper punch cutters purchased at a local fabric store, a brilliant idea for repurposing craft supplies.

Nancy’s cake decorating career took off when she made a beautiful baby shower cake for her daughter-in-law. She had recently started her cake education with a couple of Wilton classes, and they only gave her a taste for more. Unable to find access to modern decorating skills, Nancy turned to the internet and found a thriving community eager to share its knowledge, an active network of decorators, newbies and professional alike. That online community includes places like Craftsy! Nancy has been with us since the beginning, having enrolled in Jacqueline Butler’s Handcrafted Sugar Flowers when it was hot off the presses. She’s since added Joshua John Russell’s Modern Piping to her library, and is excited to take more classes, as soon as she gets back to Springfield, MO.

David's Cake by Nancy Ferguson
In the cake community, asking a decorator about her favorite cake is a little like asking a mother to name her favorite child, but after only a moment’s pause, Nancy tells me the story of her nephew David: he served five terms overseas in the Air Force, and on the eve of his last homecoming, after an absence of over a year, she had the honor of making him a “Welcome Home!” cake fit for a hero. Nancy has kept it as her profile picture ever since.

An hour before the awards ceremony begins, the bleachers in front of the demo kitchens are packed. I’m sitting next to Kay Braswell, the proud owner of a brand new rolling pin from Caketrick. The other decorators around us ooh and ahh over this, the “Mercedes Benz of rolling pins,” an 8 lb, 18 inch wooden beauty with beveled edges, ball bearing handles,and a price tag of $139.99. Kay got her start in the cake business while making pies, actually. The restaurant where she worked needed a cake decorator so Kay stepped right up, taking classes, then eventually teaching them, finally opening her own bakery. Circumstances intervened, and Kay stopped making cake for ten years; when she came back, everything was different: forget buttercream roses, which Kay can make faster than anybody around. Modern decorating means fondant, gum paste, and modeling chocolate. So far, she’s been teaching herself, watching TLC’s “Amazing Cakes and Next Great Baker,” but I’m hoping, after a couple hours of applauding in such close quarters, Kay’s become another Craftsy convert.

A fitting end to the largest cake decorating competition in the United States, I took a ride on the nation’s largest traveling roller coaster—business trips don’t get any better than this!

Comments

  1. Bren Young says:

    Hi,
    I sat on the row in front of you at the awards ceremony, I really enjoyed talking to you about Crafsy’s customer support team. Loved the article and the cake that won. Kerry Vincent was just great at the
    awards ceremony! :) Bren

    1. Grace Baumgartner says:

      Hey Bren,

      Thanks for writing in! I just let our customer support team know how much you appreciated their help. And I agree, Kerry did a lovely job recognizing all the blood, sweat and buttercream that went into her show! Great to meet you, and hopefully, our cake paths will cross again soon :)

      Grace

  2. Diannah Carmichael says:

    Hi Bren:

    This is my first time reading your blog and have to say what a pleasure it is to read an article that is truly filled with passion and joy, So many times you read about how this could have or should have been done but your article is such a ray of sunshine. Thanks for sharing.
    Just makes me want to pull out my rolling pin and get playing.

    Diannah

    1. Grace Baumgartner says:

      What a thoughtful note—a ray of sunshine itself!! The people I met at the show were so talented and passionate, it would have been impossible not to be inspired. I hope you break out your rolling pin this weekend. (Maybe I will too!) Let us know what you make :)

      Thanks Diannah!

  3. Hi Grace!

    My name is Laura E. Varela-Wong and I am the owner of Krazy Kool Cakes and Krazy Kool Cake Designs in El Paso, Texas. I love the Craftsy website and platform. I am a proud member! I was wanting to send you a message via FB but did not find a “message” option. May I ask you how I might go about emailing you in reference to a possible Craftsy course? I am a sugar sculptor and create cute and adorable cake toppers (besides custom cakes) and have been asked by several followers to teach a Crafty course on how to sculpt my toppers but I do not know how to go about contacting someone from Craftsy about the idea. I would truly appreciate any contact info you can provide. Thank you!

    Sincerely,

    Laura E. Varela-Wong
    http://www.krazykoolcakedesigns@gmail.com

    1. Hi Laura,

      I’m so glad to hear you’re a fan of our website and active member of this cake community! If you’d like to submit a proposal for teaching a possible Craftsy class, send me a detailed outline for the class, noting techniques and learning objectives in each lesson . I also need a cake sketch and brief bio with information about any previous teaching experience. You can forward all the materials straight to my inbox at grace@craftsy.com. Let me know if you have any questions!

      Thanks so much,
      Grace