In the course of our series of interviews, we are also getting to know some Sugarcrafters who are perhaps not as well known, but who have been in the business for many years, and are well known in their local area. It is interesting to learn how different people got started, developed their business, and have then shared their knowledge and expertise with others. It can be inspiring to you if you are just beginning this journey!
I have been fortunate to attend some of Betty’s workshops and classes, and she is a fantastic teacher. Her flower work is just amazing! She has won quite a few awards at various Sugarcraft shows. She recently started up Athlone Sugarcrafters, and you can read more about her classes on her website and Facebook pages.
Read on for some great tips and advice from Betty who runs Athlone Sugarcrafters!
Tell us a bit about where you are from, and how you got interested in cake decorating and sugarcraft?
I am from Drumcree which is outside Mullingar in Ireland. When I was just 10 years old, my mother showed me how to make bread, and I began my career in baking!
What training did you receive when you first started out, and since then?
When I was in my early teens, I moved to Athlone to start training to be a chef. I eventually got work as a pastry chef, and my sister suggested that I take a course in An Grianan, which is run by a women’s group called the ICA (Irish Countrywomen’s Association). I was there for a week, and it was there that I met Marie McGuirk who introduced me to Sugarcraft.
From then on, I saved every spare penny that I could to be able to travel and attend Sugarcraft courses in the UK. I did a course in Squires International School, and I have been very privileged to attend Masterclasses with some of the world’s best Sugarcrafters, including Alan Dunn, Debbie Brown and Eddie Spence.
Which other Sugarcrafters continue to inspire you?
In addition to the people I just mentioned, I think that I would have to say Maire Killoran from Dublin. I met her on a Debbie Brown workshop, and she has become my long time tutor, mentor and personal friend. She has done so much to help and encourage me over the years, and she continues to do so.
What is your favorite area of Sugarcrafting?
Definitely making flowers. This is my specialty when it comes to Sugarcraft, and I just love taking Masterclasses with Alan Dunn. I also really enjoy working with chocolate. Even though these are my favorite areas, I am constantly looking to learn new areas and aspects of my trade. My next “must do” is improving my Royal Icing skills. I have done quite a bit already, but would like to improve and learn some more!
What is your favorite Sugarcrafting tool?
Maire bought me a Metal Ball Tool years ago, and it is probably the one I use the most!
Do you have a Top Tip that you can pass on to our readers?
My top tip would be to always have Ziploc bags on hand to make sure that your flower paste doesn’t dry out. It is very important to keep everything covered.
Do you have any final words about Sugarcrafting?
Over the past 20 years that I have been Sugarcrafting, I have met some really wonderful people. It is a craft that I have come to love as it gives so much satisfaction when you are able to create a special cake or spray of flowers for someone special. I also really love teaching and sharing what I have learned with other people, as well as continuing to learn myself.
Thank you Betty! We enjoyed getting to know a bit more about you and your work!