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Guest Post: The Irish Sugarcraft Show by Rhianydd Webb

The weekend before last saw the Irish Sugarcraft Show head to the Citywest Hotel, in Saggart, Dublin, promising a fantastic weekend of live demonstrations, a host of wonderful trade stands, fun for the children and, of course, the fabulous cake competitions – with the legendarily high standard of work that the country is well-known for.

While I was gutted to not be able to attend in person (and believe me, I came close to impulsively booking a last-minute flight SO many times), I did manage to secure my own special undercover agent to report back on the show on my behalf. The wonderfully-talented lady in question really needs no introduction, so without much further ado, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Rhianydd Webb of Dragons & Daffodils Cakes to Mr Baker’s Blog with her very first guest post…

We were very excited to be attending The Irish Sugarcraft Show at the Citywest Hotel in Saggart, Dublin last weekend. It was actually our first trip to Ireland and the promised Irish hospitality truly delivered. From easy public transport out to the hotel, with its stunning hotel rooms, to a genuinely friendly Irish welcome wherever you went. We had a great time.

The show, organised by Marian McCormack (Chairperson of the Dublin Sugarcraft Guild) and her team, had a great selection of traders from around Ireland – and beyond, with Karen Davies Sugarcraft popping along to share her fantastic products too. Literally everywhere you turned, there were incredible cake artists – honestly too many to name. Ireland really does have a wealth of talent and they are all huge supporters of the show.

No show can run without a lot of support and Marian and her team are incredibly thankful for the help and assistance of the show’s sponsors: Cakers World, Stuff 4 Cakes, Sweet Revolutions by Domy, Vera Miklas, Kitchen Aid, Homebaking.ie, Strictly Sugarcraft, Karen Davies, Select Sugarpaste Ireland, Sweet Creations (Miriam Pearson), Saracino, Decobake, Ribbon Shack and The Celtic Cakers.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the official launch of the Celtic Cakers Tutorial Book. Celebrated Ireland-based sugar artist, Corinna Maguire had a grand idea (see what I did there?) to celebrate all things Irish and all things sugar and over the last year has been compiling tutorials from Irelands finest sugarcrafters to create a truly wonderful book. It is enhanced further with some stunning photography of spectacular landscapes Ireland is well-known for, submitted by each of the cake artists involved and this is all brought together to showcase the all-encompassing sense of community that we found during our stay on the Emerald Isle (and yes, I did have a great time running around collecting signatures from all of the cake artists in the book). I know you have already seen a special post about this fabulous book, but I couldn’t not include a picture of all the talents involved when I saw them at the show.

Thanks to Emma Stewart of Truly Scrumptious Cakes by Design for the photograph!

As always, there was a huge display of competition cakes and there were subjects to interest everyone, including rare breeds, a beach theme and even witches and wizards. The competitors really let their imaginations run riot.

BSG Judge, Steven Kirkby in action

There was such a wonderful range of sugarcraft skills on display too – too many to feature in one short post – but I managed to talk to as many as possible during my visit. Representing the young artists’ categories, I spoke to Gabrielle, 9, who was awarded Gold for her Tom and Jerry cake, while her sister Jessica, 11, was also awarded Gold for her Angry Birds design. I’ll be honest, I know professional cake decorators who strive for this level of neatness.

I was completely mesmerised by the stunning mermaid created by Kelly McWilliam, who was awarded Gold and Best in Class for her unique take on the subject. I went with her to the lovely BSG judge, Julie Askew, for her feedback, which was not only fabulous, but it was wonderful listening to Julie’s tips for achieving the best result possible. My favourite tip? If you shine a torch around your piece, it will help you find flaws that you can neaten (Find an interview with Kelly over on my Dragons and Daffodils Facebook page).

I also adored this hand painted cake by Sylwia Sobiegraj.  When I caught up with Sylwia at the show, she told me how delighted she was with her Gold award. All of the details on her piece were hand-painted with Saracino cocoa butter and edible dusts, with the middle tier being inspired by the painter, Vie Dunn-Harr, “I love her colourful and vibrant art”.

Anjali Tambde achieved an incredible THREE gold awards and TWO Best in Class gongs for her flawless and inventive work. Truly inspirational.

I must offer my sincerest congratulations to all of the competitors, and also to the fabulous team of British Sugarcraft Judges who had the tough task of judging them all. I certainly didn’t envy them!

There was a fabulous and varied list of demonstrations over the course of the weekend – both on the main stage and on the Dublin Sugarcraft Guild Stand – ensuring that there was something for everyone. I managed to catch a few of the demonstrations, including: Tanya Ross, who gave us fabulous tips to use when airbrushing; Corinna Maguire, who had us in stitches, while still teaching us all about gelatine (You can also find her top tips for working with gelatine in her book); and Lynda Gilbey; who pulled two helpers from the audience to create a beautiful floral teddy bear – showing that not only is she a fabulous artist, but a wonderful teacher too. The final demonstration I was lucky enough to catch was by Gavin Puttick of Putty Cakes, who beat his own record by decorating a realistic handbag cake in… 45 minutes! Wow!

But the demonstrations didn’t stop there! Lots of stands had demonstrations running throughout the weekend and I could quite happily have sat down and watched the whole time.

One of the biggest draws of this year’s show was orchestrated by the fabulous Paul Redmond of Purple Feather Cake Design: The Big One – Ireland’s Largest Cake. A huge cake sculpted in the shape of Ireland itself, it was decorated with beautifully recreated Irish landmarks and characters created by cake decorators from around Ireland and internationally too. The cake was decorated on the Friday, with the final pieces being added throughout the show. It was a huge honour to be invited to be involved in the project and to meet some of the other sugarcrafters that took part. To find out more, you can see my chat with Paul about the project over on my Facebook page, while Paul himself shared a segment from Saturday’s TV3 morning show, were he brought along some of the pieces that would be on display. Huge thanks to the sponsors, Select Ireland, Sunnycakes by David and Larry’s DIY for supporting the collaboration.

And just before I go, I hadn’t realised that the Irish show moves around, with Dublin hosting the even years and Cork the odd, which means that 2019 will see the turn of the Cork Sugarcaft Association to host – make sure you plan your trip accordingly, because you won’t want to miss it!

Thank you so much to Mr Bakers Blog for letting me ramble on – I mean guest post! It has been so much fun.

Rhianydd x

Thank YOU Rhianydd for a wonderfully detailed account of what sounds like a truly inspiring weekend. While I’m still a bit glum that I missed it for myself, you have done a beautiful job of bringing it to life for us all with your words.

Rhianydd Webb is the Wales-based talent behind Dragons & Daffodils Cakes by Rhianydd Webb and she regularly teaches classes, both near her home in Pontypridd and nationally as well. You can find out where she will be teaching next by visiting her website and don’t forget to subscribe to her blog and YouTube channel while you are there.

I’ll actually be heading up to Pontypridd myself later this week to take part in Rhianydd’s Wafer Paper Peony and Blossom Class. As a complete novice to wafer paper flowers, I am a little bit apprehensive if I’m honest, but, as a fantastic teacher, I know that Rhianydd will look after me. I can’t wait to share it all with you soon!

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