Now, the whole point of Mr Baker’s blog – my core mission if you will – is to share what each and every one of you mega-talented peeps in the world of cake is up to all year around. We often talk about how lonely the life of a cake maker is, with thousands of us toiling away alone in our kitchens, cake rooms and workshops and all looking forward to the various events that give us a chance to meet up and mingle, but hopefully Mr Baker’s Blog and in particular my weekly Something Sweet column do a little to tide us over in between these annual highlights.
As part of this, I try to stay as up-to-date and informed as I can possibly can about what everyone is up to so I can share it with you all – and that is how I stumbled across the fact that one of my favourite sugar artists and modelling-chocolate-master, Laura Dodimead is diversifying her artistic profile somewhat – and not merely by dallying with other types of sugar either. No, Laura has taken her artistry in an entirely new direction by starting a tattoo apprenticeship.
Now, before you panic, the marvel behind Life in Sugar isn’t turning her back on her sugar art at all – instead she plans to balance the two, by continuing to write, teach and create with all things edible, while also honing her skills in the tattoo studio – as Life in Ink.
Now, those who you who know me personally will know that I am a huge fan of body art and no stranger to the tattooist’s chair myself and, with two of favourite worlds colliding, I obviously had to find out more…
When I got in touch with Laura, she invited me along to her other base of operations, The House of Pain Tattoo Studio (a somewhat disconcerting name, I’m sure you’ll agree) in Bordon, Hampshire where she is completing her apprenticeship under award-winning tattoo artist, Paul Pain (which explains the name!). A delightfully kitsch and traditional space, full of fabulous historic artwork and other quirky bits and pieces, The House of Pain is a really welcoming place and I immediately felt at ease. The lovely Barby on reception offered me a hot beverage within seconds of arriving and I could have spent hours exploring the studio shopfront. However, very quickly, I was taken down to see Laura in the main studio, where it was time for a chat.
“No, I’m definitely not turning my back on sugar,” Laura explained. “I’m just exploring something that I have wanted to do for many years.” Originally intending to pursue tattoo artistry back in her teens and early twenties, as is sometimes the case, life got in the way. Once she had had her children, Laura didn’t feel like she had the confidence to put herself out there anymore. “I think that the recognition I have received and the awards I have won whilst working in sugar have given me the boost I needed to be able to try something new – to try something different.”
Before she found The House of Pain, Laura had visited a number of tattoo studios and shared her portfolio of artwork with them. There were ultimately two options that she was considering, but Laura felt The House of Pain was the best fit for her. “I think my style is best suited here because both the shop and the team here are full of character and our personalities mesh well too. I basically came back in and begged them to give me a chance!”
Obviously, I couldn’t visit Laura without indulging in my own permanent memento of the day and, rather than something cake-themed, which we decided wouldn’t suit my hyper-masculine image (don’t laugh!), we decided to stick with the theme of the majority of my body art – superheroes. As I had been particularly impressed by a beautiful watercolour piece Laura had completed on her friend Simona, she suggested that she could take inspiration from a fabulous Superman painting by French watercolour artist Clémentine Campardou, known professionally as Blule.
Now, speaking as someone who has been tattooed by a number of professionals over the years, I have to say that I was particularly impressed by Laura’s lightness of touch. If I didn’t know better, I would have assumed that she had been doing this for quite some time. I think that Mrs Dodimead may be a bit of a natural at this…
Of course, the finished picture is very fresh and a bit bloody – it also features the inkless blood-outlines that allowed Laura to place her shading accurately – so once healed, it will look totally different, but I love it already and I can’t thank Laura enough! There is something so special about being able to carry a piece of my friends’ artwork around with me always and that is why I love all my tattoos – they were all created by talented friends.
Fortunately, it seems that Laura enjoyed the experience too: “You sat like a pro and were a dream to tattoo. It’s always more fun tattooing your friends because you can have a chat and a laugh – you feel much more relaxed.”
I wish Laura every success in her new venture and I will certainly be watching closely to see what she dreams up next – both in sugar and in ink.
Laura is looking for more willing volunteers to allow her to practice her tattoo artistry. If you would be interested in letting Laura create something for you, please contact her directly via her Instagram page, Life in Ink or even via her usual cake channels: Facebook, Twitter or email.