Sometimes the things you really need, are not always where you expect to find them...
The trouble is that being so in the moment when working on cake, meant that I was constantly putting something down and was then unable to find it when it was next required. "Not a very efficient way to work", I hear you say, and you are totally right.
I am a chaotic worker - I cannot deny it. However, I genuinely believe this is just part of my creative temperament - because being a messy cow, doesn't sound half as good. ;o)
So, in an effort to bring a little order to my (self-imposed) chaos - I got caddies - and I love them. Perfect for brushes, tools, dusts, edible pens - you name it, I have a caddy for it. I have them at all my classes, so students can access their tools easily and many of them have joined me in my caddy obsession. It such a small thing but makes a massive change to your workspace.
Again, there are loads of options out there depending on your requirements - but if you are trying to get organised, I can highly recommend these! Easy to grab at when you need something, portable and inexpensive. What more could you ask for?
What to search for: Beauty caddy, Craft storage, cosmetic organiser
Silicone Brush Cleaner
How did I ever survive without this?
I'm always painting or dusting - and at one point was ruining at least twenty paint brushes a week. That's quite an expensive habit.
I got sent my first one of these brush cleaners as a freebie with some make up brushes I ordered. They are great for getting any colour residue out of the bristles, including metallics.
For those of you that have experienced the pain of applying a delicate dusting of pink blush to the cheeks of a time-consuming figure - only to have a lovely smear of lime green assert itself right across your beautiful work, get this and never cry again.
The bottom line is that dusts are tricky to get rid of completely - and this little gizmo has the power. I gave the ladies who attended my first ever class, one of these, We were doing a cupcake project that involved a lot of dusting with blacks, greens and deep purples, so knowing they might go home and practice, I got them one of these to save their paint brushes.
There are loads of different designs, I like this heart-shaped one as it has a hole in the top so you can hold onto it whilst cleaning and it doesn't slip out of your hands. Just lather up with a little washing up liquid and get scrubbing!
What to search for: Silicone brush cleaner, cosmetic brush cleaner
POLYMER CLAY CUTTERS
The most recent addition to this little list. I bought these as I needed to provide my students with a set of tiny circles cutters for a workshop I was putting together. For something so simple, I found it really hard to find a product that suited.
Great for modelling and embossing detail straight onto cakes - I have found so many uses for these nifty little beasties.
I discovered these by chance, and they got added to my essentials caddy (see above) pretty much from day one. The largest cutter is approx. 10mm and the smallest approx. 1mm, so they are great for small details.
As an added bonus, there are several of the same size cutter in each set, so if you lose one, it's not the end of the world. I have now purchased several sets of these for classes and for some of my cake mates... they are just so handy.
What to search for: Polymer Clay Cutters; Circle shape cutters with storage case
When it comes to teaching modelling - it is never ok to ask people to just know. If I ever want to wind up my students, I just say, grab a blob of modelling paste - to which they will always respond with justifiable annoyance and questions such as "How much is a blob?" "Are you talking about a big blob or a small blob?" and "Please can you stop being so annoying?"
So in all my teaching, I use mircro-scales, it takes out the guess work, allowing you to work quickly and efficiently (and we all know time is money) and helps you achieve consistent results every time.
When you're starting out - especially when creating models and figures, you tend to just keep trying things until they 'look right'. When you have done a great deal of modelling, experience will guide you when it comes to weights and sizing - but that takes time.
As a personal plus, as age catches up with me, when I am asked to reproduce a model a year or so after first making it (when everything to do with its creation has gone from my memory), it's so useful to have the weights of each part recorded, so you can re-create with the minimum of faff... I don't like faff.
What to search for: Mirco scales; pocket scales; jewellery scales
STUDENTS CHOICE: I found this little gadget when I was working on my first handbag cake (a long time ago now), as the little plastic stitch wheel attachment that can be found on the end of standard sugar tools, just wasn't cutting it (so to speak). They are ok for small areas but adding accurate stitching to larger, more detailed project required something with a little more clout.
It's not until you get a group of like-minded people together that you all realise how much certain things annoy you - and we all hated the plastic stitchy tool for anything larger than a cupcake.
I have them as part of the regular kit at most of my classes - and it's definitely one of the most popular must-buy items that my students invest in, after using it in class. It really is a great little tool for all sorts of projects. This item seems to go by several names and has multiple uses - including leather work and sewing.
What to search for: Leather tracing wheel; Embroidery serrated wheel
For all these items, the usual suspects, such as Amazon and eBay are great places to start. I don't publish links as so many people sell them - and prices change all the time. So have a hunt about to get a good price.
But as always, if you have any questions - please leave a shout in the comments box below.
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