If you’re anything like me, then I bet your mind immediately goes blank – a complete mental block – and you can’t think of anything at all. As a result, I thought I would put together the ultimate cake decorator’s Christmas wish and that way, the next time someone asks you the dreaded question, you can get my latest video up and just shove it under their noses.
You can check out the video here (don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!):
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a class with Rhianydd before and, as I explained at the time, having been active within the cake world for over 20 years, Rhianydd is a veritable font of knowledge when it comes to cake decoration and design.
Usually based in Pontypridd, in South Wales, Rhianydd has booked in a whole selection of her 2019 classes at CakeArt Creations the Studio, as, in addition to being a lovely, purpose-built teaching space, it’s central location – just outside Birmingham – means that it is easily accessible to cakers from all over the country. In fact, on the day of the class, I travelled up from Mr Baker’s Blog HQ, just outside Portsmouth, and was able arrive for the 9:30am start, without having to leave ridiculously early at all. I was also delighted to discover that parking at CakeArt Creations the Studio was free too – always a plus when you are taking part in a class that lasts the entire day!
The class that I was invited to attend was one of Rhianydd’s new classes for 2019: The Gravity-Defying Turtle Class. As many of you will already know, I love creating gravity-defying structured and sculpted cakes, so this one was going to be right up my street!
Arriving right on time for the start of the class, there was just time to set up my camera equipment ready to film the experience for my YouTube Channel, and to grab a welcoming cup of coffee, before we were ready to begin.
As always, Rhianydd was impeccably prepared for the class and we had been provided with everything that we would need to create our gravity-defying turtles. However, with her own sugarcraft supplies store mere moments away from the Studio and a whole wall of tools, cutters and more available for purchase within the Studio itself, I’m sure Lynda would have been able to cater for anything that we felt we were missing, should the need have arisen (obviously I had to check out the store for myself – and pick up a not-so-little souvenir to bring home with me).
Rhi had prepared all of the internal structures for us in advance, but was careful to ensure that we all understood the process of building them, so we would be able to do it again ourselves and she also showed us how to make the structure food safe – a vitally important step when creating your own gravity-defying creations.
Unfortunately, being the woefully inexperienced YouTuber that I currently am, I managed to leave my spare memory cards at home, so I wasn’t able to catch all of the footage that I wanted to, but I still think I managed to capture enough to give you a little taste of what one can expect from a class at CakeArt Creations the Studio – and of the fun you can have while learning with Rhianydd Webb of Dragons & Daffodils Cakes. You can check out my video here:
Regular readers may well recall that last time I learnt from Rhi, I faced a fair amount of mockery for how neatly I like to work, when I am creating (although I would like to point out that this is only when I am out and about – my workbench at home never looks like this!).
Naturally, that was referenced again at the weekend AND my neat-freakness remained in force for my turtle as well, as you will have seen in the video. At least I didn’t end up with a ‘plaster of shame’ this time.
When lunchtime arrived, many of us had brought food from home, but Lynda was also able to direct some of my classmates to a variety of local shops, as well as provide the menu for a local café that not only provided a wide selection of very reasonably priced hot and cold food, but also delivered it directly to the Studio! Very convenient and something I shall remember for next time!
Joining me on the class were a whole host of cake artists and enthusiasts at various points in their caking journey, from the near-beginners right through to the seasoned pros with many years of experience under their belts, and yet, as always, Rhi was able to teach the class in a fun and engaging way, ensuring that everyone felt supported, but no one felt that they were being taught to suck eggs. This is something that she always does so so well and that, along with her top tips for various elements of sugarcraft and the subtle nods to the experts and artists that came before us, ensure that the entire day is thoroughly interesting, engaging and, most importantly, fun!
Based in Pontypridd, Rhianydd teaches a huge variety of regular classes, locally to her at the Pantygraigwen Community Centre and both nationally and now internationally at a variety of locations, including CakeArt Creations the Studio, of course. Her repertoire is inexhaustible and her current schedule includes classes on wafer paper flowers, figure modelling, sharp edges, gravity-defying sculpted cakes and even more besides.
Next up at CakeArt Creations the Studio, Rhianydd will be returning with her gravity-defying Fairy Cottage class on Sunday 12th May, while on Sunday 9th June, she will be back again to deliver her aforementioned Wafer Paper Peony Class.
All in all, as you saw from the video above, I had a fantastic time at CakeArt Creations the Studio with Lynda Gilbey and Rhianydd Webb. I left having been challenged, entertained and having learnt an awful lot. As I have said before, I highly recommend learning from Rhi because, in all honesty, the experience is fantastic. Regardless of their existing experience level, every single person leaves feeling empowered and able to produce an awe-inspiring creation – I couldn’t think of a better testament to the quality of the teaching and learning experience.
I must say a huge thank you to Lynda Gilbey of CakeArt Creations the Studio for inviting me along to take part in Rhi’s fabulous Gravity Defying Turtle Class and for being a wonderfully welcoming host. She had us all at ease from the start and kept us all well-stocked with beverages and snacks throughout the day. I hope that I’ll be able to come back and visit again soon!
If you would be interested in taking a class at CakeArt Creations the Studio, in Atherstone, whether with Rhianydd Webb, Lynda herself, or any of the other incredible tutors who will be teaching there in the coming months, you can visit the CakeArt Creations the Studio website right here to find out more and to book your place.
A special thank you must also go to Rhianydd Webb of Dragons & Daffodils Cakes for allowing me to sneak into her class and run amok with my camera for the day. I hope you’ve recovered from the experience Rhi and I’m already looking forward to our next playdate (more on that later!).
I hope you all enjoyed finding out a bit more about CakeArt Creations the Studio and taking a little sneak peek at what you can expect from a class there. If you have taken a class with Lynda or one of her guest tutors and would like to tell us all about it, feel free to post in the comments below, or why not get in touch through one of my regular channels?
In the meantime, thanks so much for reading/watching and I’ll see you next time.
Until then… happy caking!
Disclaimer: My space on the Gravity Defying Turtle Class with Dragons & Daffodils Cakes by Rhianydd Webb was provided for free by CakeArt Creations the Studio. However, my review and the opinions therein remain 100% my own. Mr Baker’s Blog will never knowingly provide a positive review for a product or service that I don’t wholeheartedly believe in.
At the weekend, I had the very real pleasure of being invited to attend a class with my good friend and Mr Baker’s Blog favourite, Rhianydd Webb of Dragons & Daffodils Cakes by Rhianydd Webb. Active within the cake world for over 20 years, Rhianydd is a veritable font of knowledge when it comes to cake decoration and design and, as you can imagine, I leapt at the chance to be able to learn from her.
Based in Pontypridd, in South Wales, Rhianydd has managed to find a wonderful local venue in which she hosts many of her taught classes and it was to the Pantygraigwen Community Centre that I headed bright and early on Saturday morning (after a rather early start).
Growing more and more in popularity recently, wafer paper flowers were the order of the day – in particular, a wafer paper peony, with blossoms and twisted willow twigs.
I arrived nearly an hour early (what can I say, I’m super keen!), which gave me plenty of time to catch up with Rhianydd before my classmates arrived, and I was struck by what a well-oiled machine Rhianydd’s set up was. As someone who clearly teaches a lot, she really has got things down to a fine art. I also thought it was a nice touch that she had a selection of the tools we would be using within the class available to purchase at the end. That isn’t always the case when taking a class away from a storefront, so it was nice to have that option open to us.
Once the rest of lovely ladies had arrived (yes, as usual I was the token male), it was time to get started and, having spoken to Rhianydd about the history of sugarcraft a lot over the last few months, it came as no surprise that, in addition to loads of extra tips along the way, like how to make your own wafer glue using spare wafer paper (although you can also buy it from Saracino if you would prefer – that’s what we were using in the class) and a really clear explanation of the difference between carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and gum tragacanth, one of the things that really sets Rhianydd’s classes apart is her incredible knowledge of the history of sugarcraft. All her teaching points were accompanied by shout outs and references to the incredible sugarcrafters who came before us.
Rhianydd started by talking us through the kit we would be using and pointed out that if anyone was silly enough to cut themselves with the craft knives or scissors, they would have to wear a brightly coloured ‘plaster of shame’ (I wonder if you can guess where this is going?).
We learned a variety of different ways that one can colour wafer paper, including using an airbrush, with powder colours and more besides. The wafer paper we were using had been airbrushed for us in advance using Rainbow Dust’s ‘Rose’ colour, while the calyces were airbrushed with a combination of ‘Spring Green’ and ‘Holly Green’. Rhianydd also explained that to store heavily coloured wafer paper, we needed to separate the sheets with a layer of plastic.
Having worked with wafer paper before, I hadn’t realised how much I still didn’t know about using the material. One of the biggest things I learned straightaway was that one needs to condition wafer paper before one works with it. Rhianydd shared a variety of different methods for doing this, explaining which ones work best in different weather conditions and, of course, which legendary sugar artists developed each of the techniques before showing us her own method.
She also introduced the incredible number of individual pieces that go into making a single open peony. If I had had to cut them all out with scissors, I would probably have cried a little bit however Rhianydd had kindly used her snazzy Silhouette Cameo 3 to pre-cut them all for us.
Once we began making our own pieces, it wasn’t actually as hard as I had expected. The repetitive nature of some of the elements meant that we all had plenty of chances practice them and by the last of our wired central pieces, we were all assembling them like pros.
Of course, there is usually that one person that seems to go out of their way to make as many mistakes as possible (sorry about me!), but I like to think that I was merely providing Rhianydd with plenty of teachable moments… Right, Rhi? I’m not sure whether the highlight of my ineptitude with all-things-dainty was when I managed to use floral tape to cheese-wire straight through one of my wired central elements or when I managed to cut myself, becoming the sole recipient of a ‘plaster of shame’.
I must mention the lovely bunch of people that I met on the course too – that Rhianydd affectionately refers to as ‘my ladies’. I was sat with the lovely Tracy, who was an absolute hoot, as well as Rhianydd’s sister, Beth, who had decided to take her first ever sugarcraft class. Of course, I had to find out why, after so long, she had decided to take the plunge and give sugarcraft a go and she had this to say:
“I don’t tend to bake cakes, as I’m lucky enough to have a sister who makes fantastic cakes – I tend to leave it to the professionals (and subtly hint whenever I haven’t had cake for a while). I saw Rhi’s Wafer Paper Peony class advertised and, because it was something quite different to the norm, I signed up.
“The thing I found trickiest was getting past my nerves at the beginning, when I was unsure if I would be able to do it. But the way Rhianydd taught the step-by-step methods helped to make it much more manageable. If I’m honest, I was blown away by her knowledge and teaching skills. I’ll definitely be back for more and have already been looking at which classes I’d like to do in the future.”
Halfway through the day, it was time to break for an eagerly anticipated lunch. As is usually the case, I had failed to take a second look at the class’ joining instructions, until the morning actually arrived, but when I did, I was delighted to see that lunch was provided. As a complete Last-Minute-Larry, I usually have to make a mad dash to a local shop whenever I’m out and about on my caking adventures, so knowing that this would be taken care of for me was a very welcome surprise. And what a slap-up lunch it was too – with lots of tasty vegetarian options for me to enjoy!
After lunch, we moved on to some of the other elements of the piece including the miniature blossoms and the twisted willow twigs. I have always wanted to have a go at creating decorative twigs, so I was really excited to learn how to make the willow. I couldn’t believe how simple they actually were! If only I had discovered this sooner! I’m going to be putting twigs on ALL my cakes from now on… 😉
All too soon though, it was time for final assembly and the class came to an end. Making my Wafer Paper Peony was a real learning experience for me and I loved every second of it – well except for when I cut myself maybe!
Rhianydd teaches a huge variety of regular classes, both locally at Pantygraigwen Community Centre and nationally at a variety of locations, including Liverpool’s The Renshaw Academy. Her repertoire is inexhaustible and her current schedule includes classes on wafer paper flowers, figure modelling, sharp edges, sculpted cakes and even more besides. To find out what she has coming up next, you can visit the Classes and Demonstrations section of Rhianydd’s website.
I highly recommend learning from Rhianydd Webb because, in all honesty, the experience was fabulous. There were people on our course at all stages of their Sugarcraft journey, from an experienced BSG instructor, right through to Rhianydd’s sister Beth experiencing her first ever brush with sugarcraft – yet every single person was able to produce a stunning wafer paper peony arrangement. If that isn’t a real testament to the quality of the teaching and learning experience, then I don’t know what is.
Thank you to Rhi for inviting back to the Motherland and for giving me a fabulous experience. I really did have a wonderful time and can’t wait to have another play with wafer paper soon.