A mum who quit her high-flying legal career to pursue a passion for making and decorating cakes, Sarah Thomas shows that you can follow your dreams and make a success of it! At the Cake International Show at the NEC in Birmingham last year (2013), she won a Gold medal for her amazing wedding cake. Sarah has been kind enough to share some of her advice with us – I am sure you will enjoy this interview!
Sarah, can you give us a bit of background information about yourself, and what got you started in Sugarcraft and cake decorating?
I am originally from Hertfordshire, but I now live in Essex with my husband and two children.
I learnt to bake with my mum as soon as I could hold a wooden spoon! My mum never bought a cake. I became a lawyer, but continued to bake in my free time in order to relax. When I met my mother in law, she encouraged me to try sugarcraft to make my “delicious cakes look beautiful too”! I had a go and was hooked. I gave up law and have never looked back!
What would you say is your area of speciality?
I love all areas of sugarcraft, but my favourite are sugar flowers and royal icing. I enjoy making cakes look stunningly beautiful!
What classes have you attended, and what classes would you recommend to others?
I have taught popular cake decorating and baking classes for four years now (2014). I love teaching my craft to people and have made many friends, all over the world, as a result. People have traveled to learn at The Cupcake Oven from all over the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Holland, Thailand, Qatar, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Venezuela!
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas?
I am inspired a great deal by just what is around me. Pictures in books, magazines, material and even wallpaper samples!
Whose work has inspired you?
I have had the pleasure of spending time with Eddie Spence MBE, and as a result he has become a great friend. He is definately one of my greatest sugarcraft artists. I have also spent time with Carlos Lischetti and admire him greatly for his contemporary modelling techniques.
What do you find the most challenging aspect of your Sugarcraft?
I always strive to learn and develop new techniques – and always try to stay one step ahead!
What is the one tool that you couldn’t do without?
Plastic bags for keeping paste in and ball tool and petal pad!
Are there any other tools that you would recommend for someone just starting out?
When you start out, just buy what you need as you need it. It is easy to get carried away, but it is not always cheap! Better to buy just enough and just what you need, rather than tools you may never use.
What are some of the awards that you have won over the years?
As a member of the British Sugarcraft Guild I have won our local branch competition for two years running (2012-2013 & 2013-2014) being awarded the Trophy for Sugarcraft Excellence. At Cake International NEC (Birmingham) Nov 2013 I was awarded a Gold for my Wedding cake entry and I was also awarded 3rd place out of all entries in that category. I have also won several online competions in the USA with my cake designs and obtained “Daily top 3” award on cakesdecor.
Which cake is your favourite and/or means the most to you?
At the moment? Probably the cake that I won 3rd Place Gold in Nov 2013! But I am working on the next, and so that is quite high at the moment! I was also lucky enough to be able to make my nans 95th birthday cake in January 2014, and that means a lot.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
Learn as much as you can from different means and different teachers. We all have our own ways of working, but none are “the only way”. Try out things to see what suits you best and do things your way!
Have you got any tips or secrets that you would like to share with our readers?!
Just enjoy what you do! Don’t worry if things don’t go right the first time you try them – just keep practicing!
Can you give us a link to your website so that we can have a look at some of your work?
Of course www.thecupcakeoven.co.uk. You can also follow me on Facebook!