You might be asking yourself "What is Certification?"
If you are, I can answer that! If you're not, then stop reading, lol!!!!!
The international cake group that I belong to has devised a Certification program to be certified as either a Master Sugar Artist or Sugar Artist. There are pretty detailed rules regarding the test.
In a nutshell, I will have to completely decorate a three-tiered cake, a non-tiered cake and a non-cake display piece in the span of 8 hours. Yes, you read that correctly 8 HOURS.....not 8 days, lol! Very little can be done ahead of time (the point is to see how well and quickly you work). Of the four cakes two can be iced at home and two have to be iced at the test. One in buttercream and one in fondant. All cake boards can be fully decorated ahead of time.
To decorate the cakes and display piece, you have to chose 8 decorating techniques from a list of about 30-40 techniques, arranged in categories by skill level. They range from the simple (simple stringwork and piped flowers) to the complex (Lambeth and Nirvana). There are particular rules about how many techniques in each category can be picked, etc.... but I don't want to bore you with the fine details. The 8 techniques you choose will be the ones you are judged on. You can incorporate other techniques in your pieces, but only these 8 will be judged, the others will count towards your overall asthetics score.
I have spent a few years working on which techinques I would choose, and figuring out which ones I needed classes in. I have taken classes in the techniques I needed to be better at, as well as those I haven't really done a lot of. I have been trying to incorporate some of the techniques in competition cakes that I have done over the last few years - though not in earnest. That's about to change!!!! My plans for my certification cakes have to turned in by April 1, 2013, so I have a little over a year to perfect my plans and practice them to make sure they are viable.
I have done competition cakes in the Nirvana style (and won two Best of Shows) and Lambeth (3rd place - know what needs to improve). I have gone back and forth a few times with the techniques and trying to design a cohesive cake that incorporates the techniques. I am happy to say that I have settled on a final design for the three tier cake! The only variable is the type of flower, but that's easy enough to change and adjust the colors accordingly.
So.....what skills have I chosen to be judged on? Those without a description can be searched online :)
Piped embellishments (piped swags, compound borders, etc...)
Fabric Effects in Rolled Fondant (bows, swags, etc....)
I have a sketch drawn up on paper as well as the computer. My next step is to print it out and use colored pencils to get an idea of how it's going to look all finished.
So, after all this, are you wondering WHY I want to do this? I know I still ask myself that question, lol. I am doing this for me, and no one else. I'm not doing it to further my business (I don't have one) or my standing as a decorator, or for letters after my name - none of that matters to me. I'm doing it for me, to prove to myself that I can do it. Plain and simple!
I will try to keep you all updated on my progress through the Certification process!