When I first began delving into the sweet world of cake design, I did a lot of research online (I still do!). One of the ways I continue to learn is through DVD. Some of the best DVDs for making sugar flowers, are those by Scott Clark Woolley. Scott's lessons are straight forward and clearly laid out to guarantee success! When you are done reading this interview, please head over to Scott's website and check it out! He has everything you need to make beautiful works of sugar art! Check out the interview:
Morsels By Mark: How did you get into the world of cake?
Scott Clark Woolley: In between singing and acting work from 1978-1987, I preferred selling deserts to local restaurants from my apartment, and then cakes privately, to avoid having to waiter for regular monies. As a kid I always loved making deserts for the family. All my knowledge in the kitchen is self taught.
MBM: Your flowers are some of the most realistic out there. How do you go about developing the techniques you teach?
SCW: I sat down for ten years and studied each flower and its process thoroughly, developing my own way of working. I never took a cake decorating class, and only two, one day classes with two experienced gum paste artists in 1988. All the rest of the gum paste techniques I developed were discovered by trusting myself and delving into the art form deeply.
MBM: Congratulations on the re-printing of your book, "Cakes By Design" ! Any plans for a follow up book?
SCW: Not in my plans. With publishing, one gives up one's power and energy too much I found out. So all my focus is on creating a long series of DVDs on the subject of cake and gum paste flowers. That way, I get to decide everything and am totally in power.
MBM: Your DVDs are great! What can we look forward to in the future?
SCW: I am working now on "Holiday Flowers in Sugar," my DVD #7. Planned for the future are many DVD sets covering Spring, Summer, Fall, Aquatic, and more wedding flowers in sugar.
MBM: Which is your favourite flower to create?
SCW: I enjoy creating any members of the Orchid family like the Cattleya taught in my DVD#1, or the Cymbidium, one of five flowers taught in my DVD#3 "Sugar Orchids.". And of course, my greatest challenge was the Passion Flower, each flower taking 3-4 hours to create. And too, butterflies are my symbol in life for personal transformation. So in sugar, they are a great pleasure to paint and sculpt.
MBM: Who would you love to design a cake for?
SCW: I am not star struck since I was in show business. I prefer working for more humble people who are not so desperate for attention and who do not generally demand as much.
MBM: What is your favourite cake flavour?
SCW: My lemon cake recipe in my book, "Cakes By Design" was voted by students at the French Culinary Institute as their favorite version of that cake in all the books in their library.
MBM: What is the one cake decorating tool you absolutely can't live without?
SCW: My quality chrome balltool. Throw away the horribly seamed, plastic balltool by Wilton, people!
It destroys beauty and sugar flowers. Wilton should be ashamed of its cheap plastic set which diminishes the art form. To describe how the Wilton industry can be greedy with its use of plastics, I reference the career advice given to "The Graduate" in the 60's movie....a man whispers in his ear, "Plastics!" That was to show how our society has reduced quality in everything by using plastics too much with only the almighty dollar in mind.
MBM: How much lead time is there in producing a DVD before it is available for sale?
SCW: I take about one year to create each one. I do all the camera work, scoring and editing myself. My latest, DVD#6, "Practical Tips before Starting a Cake Art Business" took two years to create and cost $30,000 worth of cartoon animations to illustrate everything I wanted said visually. I enjoyed too doing all the voices for the cartoon characters, including my evil character named, Gertrude Gautrocks, of "Gautrocks Unlimited." She is the consummate symbol of the rich, controlling, spoiled, East Side customer that I frequently had to deal with in New York City. The animation makes the DVD set entertaining as well as informative teaching how to win the power play that always occurs at cake consultations.
MBM: How do you decide which flowers you will teach in the DVD?
SCW: Not all flowers apply best to wedding and specialty cakes. I try to teach those flowers that I found very useful and practical in the creation of my cakes for three decades. Also the flower categories as described above will help select what goes into each DVD set. In the first one though, I chose the most important wedding flowers to get the series of DVDs going.
MBM: Any plans on teaching live in the future?
SCW: After twenty years doing that, I have closed my school, "The Academy of Cake Art," permanently. I then moved to a new house near Albany to create DVDs and sell gum paste products online. A one time class is fine for learning, but the repetitive use of DVD lessons with all the steps in perfect order, makes it easier to learn and practice with me. In my DVDs, I don't just teach steps, but constantly adjust a viewer's technique, sharing as well, all the years of experience teaching those flowers in person.
MBM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
SCW: Nature all around me.
MBM: What piece of advice can you offer up and coming cake artists?
SCW: Try not to focus on getting attention and fame too soon. When you are ready, Spirit will put you in the spotlight when your work is refined. That takes years to accomplish. If you rush too soon to a store front or wanting fame, it will be a flash in the pan. A wise "master builder," when forming his powerful pyramid structure, creates a firm foundation before moving upwards to the next level, otherwise, the structure will collapsed. Let go of ego gratification! Just love what you are doing and beauty will spring forth from one's hands eventually! The result will be timeless and an example for future generations of what commitment to one's art form can truly achieve.
Peace and Light of Creation,
Thanks Scott for such a great interview! Be sure to visit Scott's site and see everything he has to offer. To see trailers from Scott's DVD's:
See what people are saying about Scott's DVDs:
Check out Scott on Facebook:
Keep checking back - later this week I'll have a review of a new online store I stumbled across, as well as another baker's dozen with yet another of my cake crushes!
Until Next Time,