…and now, back to cake, and not just any cake, Quirky Weddings cake!

Mid January can only mean one thing for me, Quirky Wedding prep! Yes, I know it isn’t until Sunday 1st March 2015, from 12-5pm, at the Belfast Waterfront Hall, but if you know me at all, you will know that I have been deliberating over my new designs, well, since before the last fair in September was even over! I have said it before but Quirky really does give me the opportunity to do something different and I relish the challenge of going beyond what I have done previously. Without giving too much away, my new showpieces are designed around 5 amazing and very different wedding venues in Northern Ireland and will hopefully offer lots of ideas to lots of different people.

At the last Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair, back in September, I choose “Fairytales” as my theme and even up until the night before I was tweaking, it’s probably my worst trait, it is so difficult to just stand back and say it is finished. These five designs all have their own very important journey to make before the even make it to Quirky, so time is of the essence.

I always think cake designing, for me, is a bit of a miracle! My head buzzes with ideas every day, I very rarely write them down, mainly because there’s quite often something else that takes precedence, usually a little voice calling me from around knee height, and then when I come to actually getting something down on paper, my head is so awash with ideas, that it takes me an age to sift through them. Over the following days and weeks the ideas become designs, then the designs become refined. Once the display cakes begin to take shape the design may well change to accomodate some other idea that has surfaced from deep in my little cakey library, aka my brain, and eventually they are completed. I quite often think about looking at my very first sketch of an “idea” and comparing it to the final product, but there is a very high chance that it will not resemble it in the slightest, apart from perhaps the number of tiers, shape and size, and I might scare myself into playing it safe but they wouldn’t be true Candytuft Cakes then, would they?

Here are some of my “Fairytale” wedding cakes;

My Frozen cake design incorporated a moulded snowflake globe keepsake, individually hand rolled icing icicles, handmade faux cake stand and a handcut design based on the embroidery on the sister’s Arendelle dresses.

This sweet little two tier was a little homage to my favourite fairytale growing up, Sleeping Beauty, the Disney version of course. I would dance around the house singing “Once upon a dream” and watch it, repeatedly! I loved the tweets from the sweetly singing birds so here is one immortalised in gold.

Next up, Snow White, she began life with a true woodland theme, tree trunk base tier, snow white ruffles and flowers with little tiny bees, dragonflies and butterflies.

Maleficent was a no brainer, based on the modern day take on the Sleeping Beauty tale, told from the antagonist’s perspective, I loved it as much as I love the original Sleeping Beauty even though the story was changed.

Rapunzel came next, with beautiful sugar roses and brambles in gorgeous pinks and purples, with antiqued applique lace and pearls.

I also made a small Cinderella themed cake with pale blue square tiers and black velvet ribbon with white florals and crystals and  pillow shaped cake with handmade sugar shoe.

If you are thinking of visiting the Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair then stop thinking and just make plans to go. It is relaxed and fun and seriously full of amazing exhibitors and I am delighted to be amongst them!

Kathryn xxx

Caking – inspiration vs. originality

Little did I realise when I started making my very first celebration cake, that in a matter of a few years I would be in the position I am now. I often wonder have I made the right decision. I am trusting this is what I am meant to be doing at this point in time. I love making plans, Mr Candytuft and I have lots of things we would like to do, including combining his photography and my cakes but our priority is our 3 children so only time will tell whether these plans will come to fruition but it’s nice to dream.

When the business really started to kick off, naturally things cropped up that weren’t immediately apparent, a few years down the line, there are many other issues to consider. One of these issues may seem trivial to non-cakers but definitely worth consideration for those already in business or thinking of doing so, and perhaps interesting to those of you reading this who may order celebration cakes for special occasions or those thinking about it in the future.

So what is this issue? It’s the issue of inspiration versus originality. You may ask what that means, well, of course I shall tell you as best I can. I like to think of myself as a cake designer, that’s not me being pretentious, that’s the view I have of my work. Yes, I bake my own cakes from scratch. Yes, I ice and decorate my own cakes. Yes, I handcraft all my sugar models and flowers but ultimately the bit I pride myself on most is my cake design, this goes especially for my wedding designs which is where my passion lies! Can you imagine then my feelings when I see my designs copied almost to the tiniest detail? I am not a multi million pound company, I do not teach others to replicate my designs, I do not have a book of my designs available with full instructions for others to purchase and copy, I do not post my designs on my website, Facebook page and blog for others to copy. I do it to promote my business, by giving potential customers the opportunity to see what I can do and I certainly don’t expect other cake decorators to copy my designs pretty much to the letter!

Now don’t get me wrong, there are so many fabulous cake designs out there that I fully agree there are few truly original designs but anyone with a little vision should be able to put their own spin on a design or have the confidence to design their own cakes based on a theme etc. I too am inspired by many, many unbelievable cake designers,  who create stunning cakes but I always endeavour to make each cake design I do unique and personal and that is what I want to be known for.

Why then am I writing this? I’m sure you have guessed by now that I have come up against this myself. I have no doubt it happens to many cake designers the world over and by and large this doesn’t affect those designers directly but when it happens on your doorstep it is a different matter entirely. I charge for my cakes and included in my price is the design process which can be quite labour intensive, it’s not just a case of copying a cake, it’s the thought, the research, the sketches, the continual evolvement of a design that make it unique and hopefully make it that bit more appealing than a replicated design and make me stand out from my competitors. However when someone profits from a design that I have produced it cuts me to the core! Part of my soul goes into every design,  they are like little extensions of me and I am very protectice of them!

I have experienced this first hand over the past few weeks. At first I was gobsmacked, I always presumed it was an unwritten rule in the cake world. I wasn’t naive enough to believe it didn’t happen but I at least thought that a local competitior would have the decency to come up with her own designs. After a few blatant copies it almost became comical, waiting to see what they would do next! I got over it though, until last night, when purely by chance I saw one of my cake designs copied by another, relatively local cake maker. There are some cake designs which, no matter what you do to try to change them simply look like many others, in essence they have a simple style. This design however was a labour of love on my part. A design which took weeks of planning, research and tweaking to get just how I wanted it and one which I showcased at a wedding fair last Autumn. I received two enquiries about this particular cake and genuinely quoted a price, only to not hear back from either party. Then last night I find a replica of my cake made by another NI cake decorater for one of the brides who had initially enquired. Suffice to say I was gutted! I can only assume my price wasn’t right and the bride asked other decorators to quote for MY cake design, this decorater obviously felt no remorse in blatantly copying my design, detail by detail as far as she could see in my photos and of course profitting from it!

It boils down to cake makers etiquette, perhaps there should be a rule book. Many things in the cake decorating world go without saying, but I admit it may be difficult to know what these rules are. I assumed that copying a competitors cake for a lesser price would be a huge ‘NO!’ and when I am presented with pictures of cakes from other designers I explain that I will not copy the designs. There are occasions when a design may be perfect for an occasion, in these cases it is a given that permission is sought from the original designer where possible, or at least credit is given for the design. I completely understand that these things may not be immediately apparent to any newbie cake decorators but who are any of us without a little education and experience?

Perhaps those of you who are reading this who are not cake makers may be mindful of this too. Part of what I do at Candytuft Cakes includes a unique design service and my designs are precious to me. The particular cake in question was inspired by the 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina, I first exhibited it at the Crawfordsburn Inn Wedding Fair last Autumn, it made it into the top 15 on the Cakes Decor website, I chose it to display in my photos of my newly designed cake room and it now takes pride of place in one of my display cabinets and I still love it, maybe that is why it hurt to see it copied by someone else. Please don’t think me silly for feeling like this but when you dream of a cake design over several weeks and finally take the time to bring it to life only to have it copied by another, making profit from your hard work and vision, it hurts. My cakes are never just cakes, so if you see one of my designs and like it, so much so you enquire as to the price, please accept that every bit of love and attention I have, has gone into my design and it is priced accordingly, because of this please don’t ask someone to replicate it. Talk to me about it, I will work with you and see if we can come up with a similar design to suit your budget. Similarly, if I do not have availability please don’t ask someone else to replicate it, they are like little babies to me and a little piece of my heart is in every single one.

Kathryn xxx