This is how I got into the Cake Decorating World
otherwise known as
"The Sugar Arts"
Photo by and with permission of
Robert Suddarth Photography 2012
Over the last 50 +years I have had the privilege of playing and working with the sugar arts. In 1956 ( I was 16) my mother allowed me to make a huge mess out of the kitchen. That first attempt to do a fancy cake was out of a Good Housekeeping magazine. The parts that were made from royal icing gathered a lot of dust before they were finally thrown away. My next attempt was several years later in 1964 with my youngest sisters wedding cake. I had been given a Maid of Scandinavia catalog for supplies, pans and etc. There were no classes available at that time, so, trial and error were my teachers. My first buttercream roses covered the wide mouth lid of a canning jar - flat. Very sad.
Time, patience, persistence, practice, practice, practice, trial and error were very good teachers for 5 years in Plainview, TX. We then moved to Lubbock and I had the opportunity to take a cake decorating class at the Garden and Art Center. I have a very fond memory of Charles Scarborough and that class - He called me out of class (like I was a naughty child) and asked me what I was doing in there. I told him that I had been decorating cakes for several years but, I had never had opportunity to take any classes and that I was just there to learn. He offered me a job (that I turned down) and we became friends over the next few years.
At that time I had worked for Penney's about 6 years doing window and merchandise displays. I had done cakes for employee friends in Plainview, at the Lubbock downtown store and then at the Lubbock South Plains Mall store. When the Penney's store in the mall started carrying cake decorating supplies, I was asked to teach those classes. Through the classes and Wilton contacts I met Sandy Israel who introduced me to Gum Paste. She told me about a two week class in the Dallas area taught by a very talented teacher (Betty Newman May) from California. Carol Laird and I went to that class together and in that class we made a decision to open up our own cake shop called The Cake Place in 1975. We were business partners for the next 5 years. In that same class we were told about a new International organization called ICES. There was to be a show in Dallas in l977, and we were encouraged to come and participate.
That wonderful ICES show opened up a whole world that I had never even dreamed was possible. I met extremely talented people from all over the world who were willing to share what they knew - how they did it - and held nothing back. There were sugar creations at that show that just blew my mind. I could hardly wait to learn how to do some of the things that were displayed at that show. I joined ICES at that convention in 1977 as a charter member. Since then I have been to 35 of the 41 ICES conventions, served on the Board of Directors for 6 years and was President of the ICES organization in '87 - '88. I had the privilege of being the Demonstration Liaison for 4 of those years and compiled a handbook for the demonstration committee. I have had the opportunity to travel over the whole of the United States from shore to shore and top to bottom with this organization. At the Washington D.C. show in 2004 I was honored to receive the Wilbur Brand award. This award is given for outstanding service to the ICES organization. In 2009 I was inducted into the ICES Hall of Fame. I am absolutely honored to have been given this award. What a joy to be included with the people who are the foundation of the sugar art world. www.ICES.org is the ICES web site if you want to check for more information.
I have had the opportunity and privilege to take numerous classes under some of the most talented decorators in the world. I would encourage you to avail yourself of any opportunity to learn from teachers who might come into your area. Learn all you can as the opportunities arise. Every opportunity is unique and each class will give you more options in creating your sugar art.
These are the teachers who taught me and step by step and made a difference in my cake decorating. Their names follow along with the number of classes I had with that particular teacher following their name.
Sandy Israel (2), Betty Newman May (5), Rose Hale, Edith Gates, Roland Winbeckler, John McNamara, Francis Kyper, Josefa E. Barloco (2), Joan McDaniel (2), Diane Shavkin, Elizabeth McMillan, Kay Ogdon, Carolyn Wanke, Eleanor Rielander (6), Shirley Jackson, Mary Beth Enderson, Rosemary Watson, Sandy Hargrave, Nicholas Lodge (5), Sweet Southern Sisters (Becky and Martha) (2). With 36 classes behind me there is still much more to learn. I tried to take a new class at least once a year to keep up with the newest techniques. Out of these 21 teachers 9 of these are now deceased and two are no longer able to teach. When you have opportunity to take a class from an outstanding decorator - do take advantage of the fact they are in your area. You don't know - but, that might be the last opportunity you have to take from that particular teacher.
In the last 30 years I have written several cake decorating articles and have had numerous cake picures published. Those were published in the ICES newsletter, American Cake Decorating, Mail Box News, Elegant Bride, Sugarcraft magazine (England), Modern Cake Magazine (Australia), Country Woman, Southern Living Weddings (Spring 2003), Here comes the Cake Volume 1, 2 & 3. I was honored to be asked by Nick Lodge to participate in the compiling of the book called Sugarcraft 3 that was released in the fall of 2003.. It is now available from several sources. My cakes you will find on pages 158 through 171.
I had the priviledge of co-hosting a cake decorating chat on AOL for three years with Dolores McCann. I also had the privilege of working with Rosemary Watson on developing some products with her.
We have had nine impression mats, marble tools, the rope discs and wooden stand listed on the shopping cart. . That shopping cart has now been discontinued. Merchandise all sold. I am very grateful for all the sweet people who shopped with us in the past.
In 2009 at the OK Sugar Art Show Dominic Palazzolo approched me about an idea for a new line of merchandise. I later contacted him about an idea and through the next six months we worked on putting the overpiped lace molds into a product line through his company Marvelous Molds. All of those original patterns of lace were personally overpiped with royal icing by me therefore the reason for the name on those molds. Earlene's Enhanced Lace Molds. Those molds were introduced at the ICES convention in 2010. Dominic developed the cutting ridge over the next couple of years and when he received the patent on that process it was added to the molds. The bright green color rapidly became the recognition color for all of the Marvelous Molds mold line of products.
I have tried to create an atmosphere of caring and sharing in Lubbock, TX with cake decorators that I come in contact with. I have done custom order wedding and grooms cakes in my home in my second "legal" kitchen for many years and taught classes as time permied. The custom order cakes are now phased out and due to some major health issues I have had . I have also had to cut down on the teaching also. Yes, I do travel, demonstrate and teach but you must contact me at least six months to a year in advance to schedule classes or demonstrations on a limited basis. The cake club called "Friendly Frosters meets here at the house four times a year on Sunday's. Check here for info about that. All decorators are welcome and encouraged to join us.
Ribbons, plaques and awards have been numerous at cake shows. But the ribbons and awards are not what is important. The important thing about cake shows and "Days of Sharing" is the people you meet who have a common intrest in the Sugar Arts and the information you learn as well as share. We all have learned from other people. No matter the skill level - from beginner to the masters - we all have something we can share with others. A cake idea, a hint, a recipe, a clean up tip, cake kitchen design and on and on. Those are the things in our sugar world that make working in the sugar world easier, faster, taste better, look better or design friendly.
If you have the opportunity to attend the OK Sugar Art Show in Tulsa, OK each October you are in for a treat. One of the best organized and run shows in the country with unusually good skill levels in all catagories. From the children to the Master decorators the competition is stiff and the work is outstanding. I was honored at the 2003 OK Sugar Art Show show with a special Medal of Honor. GO, ENTER, ENJOY, LEARN AND SHARE WITH OTHER DECORATORS.
There are several really great shows in the US now. Take advantage of the classes, demos and learning you will have just observing the beautiful work in the sugar work entered. Support those shows.
God bless you and your family it has been a privilege to be able to share my love of the sugar arts with you
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