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Review: 10 Simple Wafer Paper Ideas – an online cake course from Lindy Smith

Evening all! I do hope you are all well and not too bogged down in all things cake and sugarcraft!

It has certainly reached that time of year when our schedules seem to go a bit mad – certainly in the UK, at least – as we limp ever onward towards the biggest weekend of our cake calendars: Cake International 2018.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Cake International team have promised us that this year’s show will be the biggest and best ever and, based on some of the whispers I have heard, I really don’t think they are exaggerating!

You may have noticed my use of the word ‘limp’ above and be wondering whatever could I mean?! Well, based on the record number of entries for this year’s prestigious Cake International competitions (almost 2000, I believe), I can assure you that there will be a whole host of busy cakers frantically working hard to finish their showstopping entries (as well as the amazing exhibits and displays that we all so enjoy) alongside their regular weekly orders. They really do work like Trojans to ensure that we have tables upon tables of beautiful cakes to gaze upon and enjoy and I applaud them all for it – whether an enthusiastic first-timer or a seasoned pro. Competing and/or appearing at the show really is a crazy experience and it certainly is a slog in the run up – but once all of the pieces have arrived safely, it is absolutely the best weekend of the year and I know we wouldn’t change it for the world!

I must confess though that I will not be competing this year – well not on my own anyway. Instead, I have been channelling all of my efforts into an elaborate centrepiece for one of this year’s collaboration tables, which is being organised by my dear friend, caking superstar, Vicky Teather of Yellow Bee Cake Co.

But fear not, you will also be able to catch me throughout the weekend completing a live demo or two (more info on those to follow) and also taking part in a fantastic live build to celebrate the launch of darling Etty van Urk AKA the Cake Dutchess‘ first book: The Cake Dutchess Modelling Guide – Animals. I was thrilled to be able to contribute to what I hope will be the first of Etty’s many publications in the role of editor and I can’t wait for you all to check it out at the show – it really is a thing of beauty!

But anyway, this evening I thought I would take a break from the craziness of my Cake International prep to tell you about something new that I have been exploring recently…

 

Renowned throughout the world for her incredible cake designs, thoughtful writing and accessible and approachable teaching style, Lindy Smith is the extremely talented British cake designer, sugarcrafter and author responsible for many of the books that make up the essential reading list for anyone looking to get started in cake design – including The Contemporary Cake Decorating Bible.

Her attention to detail and eye for colour have enabled Lindy to go from a humble home baker to a globally-sought-after demonstrator and teacher, during an incredible 25 years in the industry, and, while she continues to run a very successful business, Lindy’s Cakes Ltd, based in Buckinghamshire, UK, she has now expanded her interests to include an online shop, which specialises in sugarcraft products handpicked by Lindy, a jam-packed teaching schedule throughout the year and, of course, regular articles and editorials about all things sugar.

It is Lindy’s international travels that have enabled her to see first-hand how sugarcraft and cake decorating is constantly evolving around the globe and, inspired by this, she is now bringing the fruits of her latest ventures to life through a new online learning experience: 10 Simple Wafer Paper Ideas.

Check out the trailer:

If you haven’t had the wonderful experience of meeting Lindy face-to-face yet, then you might not have realised just how captivating and charming she really is, but you can rest assured that her passion for all things sugarcraft, her talent for teaching and her desire to inspire and help others develop their talents are abundantly evident in her enthralling, easy-to-follow classes. You are invited to let Lindy be your guide to the astonishingly creative world of cake decorating with wafer paper.

Having experimented with wafer paper a couple of times at home and then attending a rather wonderful Wafer Paper Peony Class with the lovely Rhianydd Webb of Dragions and Daffodils earlier this year, I have been rather keen to experiment more with wafer paper and so when Lindy asked if I would like to have a little preview of her new course, I almost bit her hand off in my enthusiasm! I am constantly in awe of the incredible things that I see people doing with this up and coming medium and I have been desperate to know more!

Lindy’s course is conveniently split into handy bitesize classes (similar to Craftsy) entitled Punch it…Cut it…Steam it…, meaning that you can pick and choose the order that you watch them in and they are clearly labelled with the type of class and the skills being used. Each section is also headed up with its own introductory video, within which Lindy will tell you the tools you will need for each project and suggest how you might use each project to enhance your own cakes.

With classes on punching out decorative trims, bands and all over patterns; punching out pre-shaped and hand-formed flowers; hand cut decorations; die cut decorations; and more besides, we really are spoilt for choice and I think Lindy’s course would make a fabulous starting point for anyone looking to start exploring the wonderful world of wafer paper.

Personally, I loved the sheer variety of ways in which Lindy showed how we can incorporate wafer paper into our cake projects – I’ve only ever really encountered wafer paper flowers before – and I also liked how she very clearly demonstrates each of the techniques before showing how you might choose to use the fruits of your labours on a variety of different styles of cake – both traditional and more contemporary.

It really has got me itching to get started on some of the projects and being such a wafer paper noob, this obviously meant that I had to to go shopping – what a hardship! 😉 I already have some punches on the way to help me get started with a couple of Lindy’s projects, so you’ll have to keep a close eye out for my follow up post where I will hopefully share the results of some fabulous wafer paper experimentation.

In the meantime, if you would like to check out Lindy’s 10 Simple Wafer Paper Ideas for yourself, you can head to this link where you can buy the entire course for the absolute bargain price of just £28.80! Once enrolled, you will have 24-hour, lifetime access to your classes, you will be able to ask questions at any point during the class, you can leave your own comments and share your creations with your fellow students. Oh, and if you opt to purchase the premium version for only a coupe of pounds more, you‘ll also receive personalised feedback on your creations from Lindy herself! That’s almost as good as having her in the room with you!

So what are you waiting for? Head to the link to enrol today and learn how to have fun with wafer paper!

Thank you Lindy for letting me have a sneaky peek at your new course – I really enjoyed watching my way through all of the projects and I can’t wait to get punching, cutting and steaming!

x

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Review: The Wafer Paper Peony Class with Rhianydd Webb

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.

My neat freak-ness was the subject of much mirth…

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.