Our cake artist of the month goes to Rebecca Scharman for her incredible gingham Easter-dress-inspired cake. We talk with Rebecca to learn more about her life and work as a cake artist.
ACD: How long have you been a cake decorator and what inspired you to start your journey?
Rebecca Scharman (RS): My cake journey began in 2010 while I was on maternity leave with my first child. I was merely looking for a hobby and some time away from the house. I saw an advertisement for Wilton’s at my local Michaels and signed up. I have always enjoyed baking and have many fond memories of baking as a child with my grandma, dad, and sister. I thought that a cake decorating class would give me the skills to make my own children delicious and fun cakes for their birthdays. I had no idea at that time how quickly I would fall into a new passion.
ACD: How long have you owned your business, what types of cakes do you specialize in?
RS: I currently do not have an operating business selling cakes. I am in the process of doing research for a location and plan that will suit my needs. My specialty would be wedding cakes featuring florals, greenery, and delicious interiors.
ACD: What cake are you most proud of?
RS: I am most proud of my cake for the May/June issue of ACD, Floral Couture. Having the flexibility to design what I wanted pushed myself to attempt new techniques and it was a thrill! It was a simple two-tier design that incorporated some paint, pleating, piping and climbing florals with one of my favorite colors, claret.
ACD: Where do you find your inspiration?
RS: I find inspiration for cake design anywhere and everywhere. I see a cake in the home decorating section of the department store like vases, mirrors and picture frames; on stationery designs and fonts; and artists of other mediums; their brush strokes, color palette, and composition.
However, I find most of my inspiration in fashion, which is odd if you knew my fashion style. I am not very fashionable, I am jeans and tank top type of person. In fashion, my inspiration comes from the various textures, patterns, pleating, and stitching. I adore and find most of my inspiration with vintage clothing, such as the gingham cake, but am just as amazed at the haute couture and how they stretch the limits and create new rules about fashion.
ACD: What tool could you not live without?
RS: I have three tools that I could not live without a sharp cutting tool, my large stainless steel rolling pin, and my stainless steel ball tool in various sizes. I am a stickler for sharp clean edges and can be found using many different types of blades in one project. I also am not fond of rolling out fondant and covering cakes, so the big stainless steel rolling pin helps me achieve my least favorite task just a little quicker and with a little less pain. My favorite ball tools are the Colette Peters medium and extra large. I am not a fan of frilly flowers. These two tools together let me thin the edge of each petal while carefully controlling how frilly it is.
ACD: Who inspires you as a cake artist? Who are your cake heroes?
RS: My cakes heroes are Margaret Braun, Ron Ben-Israel, and Susan Trianos. Each has been a hero is different ways.
Margaret Braun was my first professional taught cake class. It was one of Margaret Braun’s cakes that caught my eye when I first started decorating cakes. I received her book Cakewalk; Adventures in Sugar with Margaret Braun as a gift and I was in awe at how she combined art and cake. It was the first time that I saw cake decorating as actual art.
Ron Ben-Israel is the sugar flower King. I have a brown thumb with living plants but I am in love with sugar flowers. Naturally, I would admire his work as many do. I jumped at the opportunity to attend one of his classes in the summer of 2016. He is an amazing artist, great personality and all that combined with a natural instinct to teach.
I am very grateful to Susan Trianos. I have enrolled in many of her classes. Besides a great cake decorator, she is an amazing teacher. Her constructive feedback and willingness to answer questions even outside the course pushed me outside of my comfort zone and lit a fire inside me to keep learning and improving myself.
ACD: You’ve been a cover star for ACD, how was the experience, what advice would you give to others who are looking to make the cover of a magazine?
RS: The day I was notified that my cake was selected as the cover of ACD was one of the best memories of my cake life. I was thrilled but couldn’t tell anyone except for my family. It was hard to keep this amazing news a secret. Seeing your cake on the cover of ACD and being used in advertisements is surreal.
My advice would be to design your cake with a cover in mind. The cake doesn’t have to elaborate and huge, however, there needs to be a focal point on the cake that can be sized and photographed for a cover. The photography is also critical. The ACD cover cake was professionally photographed. My advice is to either find a photographer who can shoot your cakes or invest in the equipment and training to take a professional shot of your own cakes. Learning how to photograph your own cakes would be a great investment for all other social media and marketing as well.
ACD: Have you ever competed in a cake competition? Can you tell us about that experience?
RS: I have competed in three cake competitions in the past two years. I competed in the Icing Inspirations cake competition in 2016 and 2017 and Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show in 2017.
I placed first in the professional division for each year with Icing Inspirations. Each year had a different theme, which inspired me very differently.
The most valuable take away from the competition was the feedback that I received from the judges. I continually want to grow as a cake decorator. I want to enhance old techniques and learn new ones. The competition at Icing Inspirations is amazing as the judges take time to provide feedback for areas of strength, weakness, and areas to build on.
ACD: What would you do if you were not a cake decorator/artist?
RS: At the moment I am a stay-at-home-mom and have been for the past 4 years since my youngest was born. Before that, I worked in IT. If I were not a cake decorator, I would like to still do something in a creative field.
ACD: What are your 2018 cake goals?
RS: My 2018 cake goals are to build on techniques such as piping and become more efficient with sugar flowers. I would like to attempt a cake competition outside of Canada one day and working on those skills will help me greatly. Business wise, I would like to launch a website and continue my search for a venue to open a shop.
Congratulations to Rebecca on becoming our Cake Artist of the Month. If you’d like to become our next featured artist, make sure to share your latest and greatest creations with us at www.facebook.com/americancakedecorating