Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Teaching Conundrum

Hey cake land!

I love teaching!  I also love taking classes and building on my skill sets!  I work hard to preparing classes that I think people would enjoy and take away from.  I also work hard to make the money required to travel to take classes or purchase classes online.

Lately, I've noticed an increase in requests for either free instruction or to have me re-teach a class I took.  Here are a couple of examples of what I am referring to....

As you know, The Cake Tool Company recently launched my DVD, "Timeless Wedding Flowers".  Some people have purchased it, others have commented on the pictures online stating, "you should do a tutorial" or "how did you make your ranunculus?".  Then they get upset when you answer that they can purchase the DVD online and watch as often as they want!  I have no problem doing free tutorials for magazines, or my blog on basic things.  A lot of time and effort went in to preparing the DVD, and if I were to teach it as a class, it would easily be 2 days and cost about $350......The DVD is $34.99.....a fraction of the cost of me teaching it live.

Here's another example that applies to taking classes (including Craftsy).  I recently took Joshua John Russell's Haute Couture Cake class at Icing Inspirations.  My class cost was not just the class itself - I rented a car to travel there and back, gas, food and hotel.  I posted the picture and within a few hours had multiple messages asking me if and when I would teach it here in Montreal.
Here's where I have an issue.  As an instructor, I do not want my students taking what I taught and turning it into a class of their own.  Can I control it?  Absolutely not!  What I can do, is hope that people see that by my NOT teaching a class that I have taken, they will see the level of respect and integrity that I have for myself and fellow instructors.  Until students can understand this point, things won't change, and in turn it cheapens the learning experience for teachers and students equally.  I hope taking this stance shows people that I am an instructor that takes his love for the craft seriously and wants to offer his students classes that they can appreciate the work that goes into planning classes.  Where it is OK to teach a technique you didn't develop, is say where you saw a picture online and taught yourself, or you modified something you learned in a class and made it your own.

I would hope, as an instructor, that if someone was going to teach something similar to something I taught, that they would have the decency to contact me and say they were teaching it.  I just finished co-teaching Macabre Sugar Flowers.  One of the flowers I taught was the Dahlia - a flower I recently made in class with James Rosselle.  Now I had made them prior to James' class, and my technique was slightly similar to his.  I was not teaching his techniques, but I was still respectful enough to contact him and give him a heads up that I was teaching Dahlia and assured him I was not teaching his methods - simply because I respect him as an artist and a person.

I really hope in writing this, people were not offended.  It was not my intention.  It was simply something I needed to address as it has been asked a lot of me lately, and I really wanted to help people understand why I won't teach something I learned directly from someone else or why I won't just give my methods away for free.

Until Next Time,
Happy Caking!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Macabre Sugar Flowers Class

Hi Cakeland

Although the leaves are starting to change here in Montreal, we're still holding autumn off as best we can - it was a super nice weekend, and we made sure to take advantage of our pool still being open.  It was nice to sit back and relax - it has been a busy week with the launch of my DVD, "Timeless Wedding Flowers" as well as prepping my next live class - Macabre Sugar Flowers.  Macabre Sugar Flowers is the result of a collaboration with my sweet friend Suzanne of Savauri Sugar.  We will be teaching this full day class on Sunday October 5th at 9am at Kitchen Jukebox.  As of this post, only 1 SEAT REMAINS, then a waiting list will start.

For only $150, you will learn to work with isomalt, make gumpaasste dahlia and succulents, make a fantasy wafer flower as well as learn how to make marbled fondant look like a real slab of marble!  Although halloween themed in nature, these techniques can translate to flowers for other cakes as well.  And as an added bonus, one lucky student will be going home with some swag courtesy of the Cake Tool Company.

If you want to fill that last spot or get on our waiting list, please contact me so arrangements can be made.

Until next time,
Happy Caking!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Timeless Wedding Flowers Has Arrived!

Hi Cakeland!

In my last post, I wrote about a project I had worked on for The Cake Tool Company that involved a video camera or 2.  I am so very happy to share with all of you that my latest teaching endeavor is now available for sale at http://www.thecaketoolcompany.com/index.php/cake-decorating-tutorials-dvd-3/dvds/timeless-wedding-flowers .

Timeless Wedding Flowers is 2.5 hours of HD instruction where I teach you to make the 4 most requested flowers brides are asking for - Hydrangea, Calla, Ranunculus and Roses.  I show my methods for making these flowers from start to finish, including how to color them to look (and even smell) like real flowers!  As an added bonus, I have included a lesson on arranging the flowers 2 different ways!

I am very pleased with the end result and can't get over how great my team at The Cake Tool Company made this DVD!  The have been awesome to work with!  And for a limited time, The Cake Tool Company is giving a FREE ruffle stick to every customer that purchases the DVD format!  I love this tool so much, and I even show you a cool application for it in the class!

This is the first of many planned DVDs and I owe it all to you - my readers and students!  I want to produce classes to make you all happy - so please leave a comment and let me know wht else you'd like to learn!

Happy Caking :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lights, Camera.......

Hi Cakeland!

It's been a while, but I've been super busy, and busy is good!  A few weeks ago, I taught at Sweet House Cake & Candy Supply in Las Vegas and had a blast!  Thanks to my sponsors - The Cake Tool Company, The SugarArt, Simi Cakes & Confections, and Fondarific, prizes were given away in all 3 of my classes!!

I've also been hard at work on a few TOP SECRET projects, one of which happened today and I can finally share with you guys.  I've been dying to share this secret for a while now.  As you know from my previous posts, I am a proudly a member of The Cake Tool Company family - working as one of their sponsored artists.  Now this position comes with a lot of great perks - the opportunity to work with great tools and an amazing family company!  One of the other perks is that they are all about educating and helping artists grow their skills.  Today, I was able to contribute to their vision of educating the cake community.  Today, I filmed my first video class :)

I have been a ball of emotions leading up to this project - experiencing all kinds of feelings simultaneously most often nervousness and anxiousness - all worth it.  Thanks to my crew - Bunny and Harry, filming went smooth and didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would!  I won't go into details just yet as to what the content of the class is - I'll leave that for a future post and maybe a contest ;)  What I can say about it is that it was a memorable day, and I really think that you all are going to enjoy it - at least I hope you do!  A lot of myself went into planning the class and I do think it is a good point to start what will be a series of classes.  I can also say that it does feature sugar flowers, and I have changed up a few of my techniques to put a new spin on some classics.

This is just the start of more amazing things to come from the Cake Tool Company and I am honored to be a part of it!  Keep your eyes posted here for more updates about the class launch, contests, and promotions.    And now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, leave me a comment below, and tell me what flowers you'd like to see in future lessons :)

Next week, I am off to class at Icing Inspirations with Joshua John Russell and Karen Portaleo - very excited, and wiil be sure to share my experience with you!

Until Next Time,
Happy Caking

Friday, August 1, 2014

New Product Review - Cake Tool Company Part 1

Hi Cakeland!

Happy ICES weekend!  A few weeks ago, I announced I have proudly joined the Cake Tool Company family as one of their sponsored designers.  One of the perks (and there are many more to come, so stay tuned) of my job, is that I get to use their tools designed by Mercedes Strachwsky - one of the world's premiere cake designers.Since the line is so amazing, I am going to break my review down into multiple blog posts.

I couldn't get over how fast I received my new tools - and after reading online reviews, it wasn't fast because I am part of their team - everybody that has written reviews on their website have given them props for speedy shipping!  Just the feel of the tools was phenomenal!

I'd say I have two favorites right out of the gate - the delrin ball tool and the stainless steel ball tool.  The delrin ball tool is one piece of seamless hard plastic with a different sized ball at each end.  For a flower maker like me, the fact that it is seamless is crucial, as it allows me to work my gumpaste without marring it.  I love how it just glides over each petal effortlessly with very little pressure.  It is lightweight and very durable!

My other favorite - the stainless ball tool - looks like your normal good quality stainless ball tool with two exceptions - the brushed stainless steel is seemless (again, crucial!) and the delrin handle is actually food safe and doubles as a small 6 inch rolling pin - perfect for working with small pieces of paste.  Gotta love a 2-fer!

If you want to check out their full line of tools, click the logo and treat yourself to the best quality tools I have seen in a loooong time (and no, I am not paid to say that!).  And this weekend only, in honor of the annual ICES convention, The Cake Tool Company is giving all cakers a 25% discount regardless of if you are at convention or not!  Simply use promo code ICES25 at checkout.  And if you are able to be at convention, please swing by the Satin Ice booth where Mercedes will be doing demos all weekend and showing off these phenomenal tools!  Make sure to give her a big hug for me if you do!

I will be making my teaching debut teaching with the tools at Sweet House in Las Vegas, NV on August 18th.  If you would like to attend one of my 3 mini classes, register here.  I will be giving away prizes in each class, including a tool or two courtesy of The Cake Tool Company!

Until Next Time,
Happy Caking!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Big Changes Coming!

Hi Cakeland!

As I gear up to kick off my fall classes - starting with my classes at Sweet House in Las Vegas NV - I am very excited to be embarking on an new journey in my cake career!

Only my family and very close friends were in on the secret until late last week when I took to social media to make the official announcement.....I am over the moon excited to tell you all that I have proudly joined The Cake Tool Company family!

The Cake Tool Company is owned and run by the amazingly talented Mercedes Strachwsky and her family.  I have long been a fan of Mercedes' work since purchasing here pdf tutorial, "The Magic of the Sea" now available on DVD!

Having just launched a little over a month ago, I answered an open application on facebook for artists to join the team, and honestly wasn't sure what my chances were given the number of followers the company has.  Needless to say, when I checked my e-mail a couple of weeks ago, I had to make sure I wasn't dreaming (it was 5am afterall).  I had an e-mail saying Congratulations.  I thought I won something as I had entered a few contests they were sponsoring, and in all reality, I feel I have won....the first line actually read, "Let me be the first to say congratulations and welcome to the family"!  There was some details I needed to send which was followed up with a phone call.  All I can say is in a few short weeks, I certainly feel like I am part of the family.

The Strachwsky family has been nothing but welcoming and nurturing, helping me navigate these new waters I am swimming in!  It feels like such a great fit, that every time we speak, I feel even better about this venture!

So what does all of this mean?  Well for starters, I am a member of their team of artists hand chosen to help promote the brand.. You can view their retail store here.  I will be playing with all of the line in the coming weeks (you all know this boy loves his cake toys) and giving you feedback, tips and tutorials for working with these awesome, high quality tools (and maybe a giveaway or two).  It also means down the road you can expect to see more of me in the way of instructional DVDs (perfect for those of you who are to far to make one of my classes in person) and maybe even a few tools I design to help bring your sugar skills to the next level!

Please be sure to follow me and The Cake Tool Company on Facebook, and keep your eyes posted here for more updates on this awesome adventure I am starting!  In the meantime, please leave me a comment here and let me know what you think my first digital class should be!

Until Next Time,
Happy Caking!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Free Tutorial - Gothic Lace Flower

I recently spent an amazing 3 days in Kitchener ON learning from my friend James Roselle as he was guest instructing at Icing Inspirations.  While I was there, I was able to pick up all the molds I pre-ordered from the Elissa Strauss fashion line.  On my drive home, I had a bunch of ideas going through my head, including one that I thought would be awesome on a goth style cake.

To make my Gothic Lace Flower, you will need:

Gumpaste (I prefer fondarific brand)
Spray Glaze
Gum Glue
Silver Highlighter
Lemon Extract

Start by making your center.  Make a small amount of grey gumpaste using the black gel color.  Take a tiny amount of the grey and color it black.  Use an even tinier amount of black, marble it in with the grey and cast your skull cameo.  Allow to dry overnight.

Mix some tricot lace medium using the package instructions.  To get black, I substituted in some black airbrush color by weight with the water.

Spread the medium over your lace mat (my mat is black, so I used a white mat for you to see it easier)

Bake according to package instructions (I usually leave it in until it is no longer tacky to the touch).
Remove leaves from mat and pace on bumpy foam to give them some shape and allow them to dry.

Paint the base of the cameo with highlighter mixed with lemon extract.  Allow to dry then spray with glaze – this will prevent the silver from coming off and will also help you achieve a true marble look to the skull.

Use a small circle of gumpaste as a base and adhere 3 of the same leaves to it with gumglue.  

Repeat with a second layer of leaves (different style) to fill in the spaces.  Add your skull cameo center and you have a fairly quick and easy Gothic Lace Flower (I left mine on the bumpy foam since it was really humid the day I was shooting the tutorial).

I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial – it helped me get into a dark place and come up with a few cool projects for a class I will be co-teaching with Suzanne of Savauri Sugar in early October – “Macabre Flowers”.  If you want to take part in the class, be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@morselsbymark) to keep up to date when the class is officially announced.  Also, be sure to check out the Morsels By Mark Store  where I am now making available some of the most requested tools from my classes.

Until Next Time – Happy Caking!