Thursday, June 28, 2012

Craftsy Rocks! Class Review Part 1: Handcrafted Sugar Flowers

Craftsy Logo

Have you heard of Craftsy? Up until a few months ago, I hadn't... but one day I received the Cake Central newsletter and they had an offer for Jacqueline Butler's Handcrafted Sugar Flower class...   Since Jacqueline Butler is a sugar flower master and the special offer price was excellent, I figured I'd try the class to see if I liked it... half expecting it to be a glorified YouTube video.  Well, the rainy Sunday that I purchased the class I sat and watched the whole thing... a detailed, hours long, interactive course!  It was extremely informative, the platform is amazing and I've been hooked on Craftsy ever since!  To my delight every month or so they have been adding to the lessons in their Cake Decorating category, and I have taken all 4 of them!  I am going to make a small series of posts reviewing each of the classes I have taken...  So read on if you would like to see my what I thought of these classes!

Handcrafted Sugar Flowers with Jacqueline Butler

This is "the class that started it all" for me... lol!  One of my favorite things to look at are pictures of beautifully decorated cakes, more specifically cakes decorated with sugar flowers!  I've teaching myself how to make gumpaste flowers, but it can be frustrating trying to figure it out on your own.  If you follow my posts at all you may have seen a few months ago that I posted about this class after I took it!  I even jumped in and made a small bouquet of flowers- check out that blog post to see how my project turned out :)

Since I pretty much gave my opinion of the class (a resounding approval!) in that previous post, I won't go on too long about it, but I do want to summarize my review for anyone interested.

As I mentioned, I initially expected the class to be a glorified YouTube video.  I mean, Jacqueline Butler is an amazing sugar artist and travels world wide to teach.  How could I expect the "full Jacqueline experience" with just the nominal fee I paid for the class?  But this class, and the Craftsy platform in general, is so much more.  Even better than a DVD you might purchase because it is interactive.  You can share your pictures, you can ask questions and see what questions other people have had... Jacqueline is great about taking the time to answer questions and give feedback on your photos.  In this way, it's the best of both worlds!  You get the interaction with your instructor and you get the video that you can take notes on (integrated into the Craftsy website!) and watch over and over again- you an log on from any computer, you "own" it for life.  And Craftsy is not just for cake decorating!  If you are a crafter, sewer, artisan cook... you will probably find something to interest you here!  Okay, so I think I've made it clear that I really like Craftsy!

When you sign up for for your class, you can begin taking the class immediately.  You can download the "course materials." Which, in this lesson, includes a list of supplies, recipes for gumpaste and royal icing, a source list- so you know where to buy your supplies, as well as instructions that you can print to have in front of you.  At the top of this (and all) lesson page you will see tabs for "Homeroom," "Video Lessons," "Talk," "Projects," "Video Notes," and "Reviews."  Homeroom is the "dashboard" for the class, you can see all the lessons, and where you left off, new projects uploaded, questions & answers and this is where you find the course material.  Talk, is a forum where you can discuss the less with your "classmates" and instructor.  Projects is where you can upload pictures of your finished projects and see other people's work.  Video Notes is private to you.  As you are watching your lesson you can take notes and it will be associated with that point in the video so you don't have to figure out where to go back to!  You can also ask questions during the video and see other questions posted by other people.  It's very interactive, and I love it!  Okay, so that is how Craftsy works!
In the Handcrafted Sugar Flowers class, you will learn how to make gumpaste hydrangea, leaves and buds, as well as some dainty filler flowers, filler leaves and buds.  These may be "simple" flowers but are a staple to pretty much any flower arrangement!  Jacqueline does an excellent job teaching these flowers and walks you through step by step- from making your gumpaste to arranging your bouquet.  She is an excellent teacher and doesn't rush through, you'll see her make several of each flower so you can see how it's done if you missed the first time.

Another great thing about this class is Craftsy, and the people who produced the video lessons for this course, did an excellent job with camera angles.  You get clear close ups of what Jacqueline is showing you.  If you are used to YouTube instruction, like I am, you know that sometimes it is hard to see clearly what is being worked on.  Speaking of clear, the video lessons are available in HD!  If that's your thing :)

One of my favorite aspects of the Handcrafted Sugar Flowers course is that it really is complete...  She shows you how to dust the flowers for a realistic look and how to wire your flowers together into a beautiful bouquet!  These two things are often not included in the online instruction you find.  Wiring flowers together is something I struggle with, trying to figure it out on my own... You'd think it would be simple right?  But I have a hard time making "natural" looking arrangements!  I don't want to give away her tips, but I definitely walked away with some transferable knowledge of how to arrange my sugar flowers!

I believe this class is about $60 normally, but Craftsy is often running promotions so you can likely find a good deal (I was able to get it for half price)!  The money is well worth it, in my opinion!  So, if you want to learn more about sugar flowers I think this is a great place to start- especially if you aren't able to travel to take classes in person!  Handcrafted Sugar Flowers gets my stamp of approval!

Jacqueline Butler is the sugar artist behind Petalsweet Blog.  She has amazing work and is a fantastic teacher, traveling world wide to instruct.  Head over to her blog to see some of her masterful creations!

There are new classes being offered on Craftsy all the time!  Some of my favorites are:

In addition to their wonderfully produced online classes, Craftsy also offers some great free resources!

In my next post I will review Topsy-Turvy Cake Construction...

Happy Caking :)

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links; however, all opinions are my own!

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