MM: What names do you go by?
JF: I have a Facebook Group called ‘Cakes …Cakes … Cakes’ where I have pictures of all the cakes I have made so far. Otherwise I am just known as plain & simple ‘Joanne Foster’ (but everyone calls me Jo)
MM: And your business name?
JF: I’m not set up as a business yet, but I have been in discussions with my local council and hope to set up some time next year.
MM: What’s your location?
JF: I live in Portslade, which is just outside of Brighton on the South Coast – about 5 mins from the beach!
MM: Where did we first meet?
JF: Unfortunately we haven’t met face to face yet, but we have been in contact via your Facebook Group. But I really do hope to meet you one day soon so I can personally thank you for all the help and advice you have given me.
MM: What areas of sugarcraft interests you the most, do you specialise in any?
JF: I can’t say I specalise, as I’ve only being dong this since March last year – (I’ve only made about 25 cakes so far), but I do love making flowers and trying to get them as life-like as possible. Socially, I am also into Rock ‘n Roll, and so any cake with a R’nR theme really excites me – I made a cake for a R’nR friend which white with a hand painted leopard skin stilletoe shoe on the top with a red rose inside, and a hand painted leopard skin bow around the bottom and red cherries around the side (sounds yuk if you are not into that kind of thing, but it looked great and its one of my favourites so far!
MM: I see you’ve posted this cake, I think it’s a stunning cake, I love it!!
MM: Where can we see examples of your work?
JF: All I have is my Facebook group called ‘Cakes … Cakes … Cakes’ but as soon as I am registered with the Council & HMRC I will set up a web site. I have some pics on Flickr under Joanne Foster, but I don’t think anyone has ever looked at them. LOL!!!!
MM: How long have you been involved with sugarcraft and what got you started?
JF: I started in March last year - my husband’s family is very close and we get together regularly. It was my brother-in-law’s 50th Birthday and we were having a party for him & it was my job to sort out the birthday cake. I looked on the internet to get some ideas for a really spectacular cake that I could order and found a picture of a fabulous two tier chocolate and white wedding cake covered in chocolate and white roses and decided that was the one I wanted. I looked more closely at the roses and wondered if I could make them myself so I surfed the net to see how to make roses and experimented a bit with a pack of fondant icing and they came out ok, so I ended up making the whole cake. My brother in law loved it so much that he wouldn’t let us cut it. He took it home and covered it in some sort of preservative and we’ve never seen it since. That was in March last year – it has probably gone green now by now, grown legs and run away!
MM: Where did you learn?
JF: I’m self-taught via the internet and books. I did a 10 week beginners decorating course in Portslade which was very basic, and I also had a few lessons with Pat Ashby who lives nearby in Hove and runs small groups at her home.
MM: Ooooo Pat Ashbey eh? I am jealous…….
MM: Is there anyone that has been your inspiration?
JF: Everyone! Everybody has their own creative touch or ideas and I find inspiration from every cake I look at, whether it be a border design, a style of character, a shape of a cake, a way of using colours – the list is endless! I have just bought Eddie Spence’s book (he is one of the cake decorators to the Royal Family) and his piping is absolutely amazing. He gave a demonstration at our local Sugarcraft Guild which I missed, and apparently he was brilliant to watch.
MM: Where do you feel your love of the craft will lead you, have you any aspirations?
JF: I hope to get myself up and running as a business next year, but this will be purely in addition to my full-time job. My dream though, would be to eventually have a small shop where I can make my cakes, with glass displays mounted on the walls filled with beautiful wedding cakes and sugarcraft flower sprays.
MM: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of sugarcraft, do you have any pet
JF: I’ll start with the least favourite - I HATE HATE HATE cleaning up the mess and crumbs from levelling and shaping cakes. However careful you are, you end up with crumbs everywhere, and there always seems to be so much waste – if anyone has any tips for cooking a cake that comes out lovely and level, I would LOVE to hear from you!
MM: Could be your oven temperature, try lowering it slightly, it will take a little longer to cook but should stop the middle peaking. You could also try putting a whelt in the middle of the mix when you put it in the tin as this also gives it room to rise ;O)
JF: As for favourite parts of sugarcraft – I love trying out new things, whether its making new flowers, making a new type of paste, or trying out a new skill. I also love looking back at my original drawings and comparing them to the photos of the finished cakes and seeing how an idea on paper suddenly transformed into a real cake.
MM: Have you ever entered your work into any competitions, & if so how did you get
JF: No not yet! I have loads of ideas that I would like to experiment with, and I look at the competitions to try to see how I could adapt my ideas to fit the criteria, but I think I am still a long way off yet. I’m still on such a huge ‘high’ with my cake decorating, and the thought of being brought back down to earth with an almighty bump is something I don’t think I am quite ready for at the moment. But once I feel a bit more confident I may give it a go.
MM: Definitely give it a go, I for one, would love to see your ideas, I’m sure you’d do well.
MM: Have you a signature cake/style and were do you get your design ideas from?
JF: No, I don’t have a signature cake/style - of the few cakes I have made, each one has been so different that I haven’t yet been able to find something that I do that is unique to me. As for cake ideas, I surf the internet, books & magazines for inspiration – wedding websites are always interesting. I buy lace and material from fabric shops and try to replicate pretty designs that could be used on cakes. Whenever I go into shops I am always looking for anything that could be used or adapted as a cake decorating tool. Even my husband looks out for things for me as well!
MM: Do you live outside the UK? Have you anything interesting/useful you could tell us
about your countries cake culture?
JF: No, I live in the UK, but while I was in Spain recently on holiday I did look to see whether making cakes over there would be a viable business venture if ever we were to move there. It could certainly be done if you could find catering premises with air conditioning. Loads of people go over there for stag and hen weekends, or celebrate birthdays and anniversaries while they are on holiday, and there doesn’t really seem to be anywhere that you can buy a proper traditional english iced cake from (at least from the part we visited). Considering there are so many ex-pats over there, I’m sure they would love the opportunity to be able to order a good old english birthday cake!
MM: Have you any tips or advice that you think may come in handy to anyone who’s just
starting to explore sugarcraft?
JF: As far as experience goes, unfortunately I don’t really have any tips yet, except practice practice practice – you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. Look up cake decorating on You Tube – it always helps to actually see something being made rather than just reading about how to do it, as it can be very confusing. But most of all, just enjoy it!
MM: Do you have any stories about sugarcraft that have stuck with you?
JF: A lot of sugarcraft has stuck to me – but that’s another story! No, I can’t say that I have any particular stories as yet, but I do know that everyone I have spoken to or contacted who does sugarcraft, seem to be really genuine people who have a true love of what they do, and are willing to share their experience and tips with those who are learning - and that is something of a rarity these days.