My decision to attend The Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionery Art was made within the first five minutes of the first Wilton Method Course I ever attended in Waterloo, Ontario, in April 2013. I went through the four Wilton Method Courses offered near me over the next few months. But I was so excited to register for The Wilton School and choose the courses that would best serve me during my stay.
But before I delve into that, I must share my thoughts on the Wilton website. Anyone who enjoys ANY LEVEL of cake decorating can find answers and inspiration on this site. It is an amazing resource and certainly worth the time spent exploring it.
Back to class registration. I chose The Master Course — a 10-day course over a two-week period. Classes were from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., so I could enroll in some late afternoon/evening courses, too! In addition to The Master Course, I chose both the Introduction to Gum Paste and the Introduction to Fondant Modeling classes.
In November 2013, I flew to Chicago with my 20-year-old niece, who also enjoys cake decorating and has been inspired in the local Wilton Method Courses we took together. Karen had been practicing and making “family cakes” with me for months. We’ve made an adventure of it!
Monday morning 7 a.m. … we arrived for our first day of school!
There were 15 students for The Master Course, and I was thrilled to meet people from all over the world! There were men and women from various parts of the United States as well as Belgium, Switzerland and Australia. We were taken on a tour of The Wilton School, and Karen and I proudly put our pins in Kitchener (Ontario) and Stratford (Ontario) on the world board (a poster of the world where students can stick pins in where they came from).
I knew the general history of Wilton, and I found the story of Dewey McKinley Wilton inspiring. When I walked into the classroom, and I saw dozens of beautiful wedding cakes on the shelves, I thought I would have a panic attack. How could I ever create anything like that?
Sandy Folsom, the director of The Wilton School, and Paula Mulhern taught The Master Course. It was obvious from the beginning that they were “cake masters,” and I was so impressed by the teaching style at The Wilton School. I noticed how Sandy and Paula kept going back to the “Three Essentials to Success” in cake decorating: position, pressure and icing consistency!
Our class would gather at the front of the room (or look at the large monitors around the classroom) and watch as Sandy or Paula explained a technique. We would then practice at our desks. Both teachers would walk around the classroom and individually help each person master the technique before we would move on to the next. They would literally place their hands over ours and guide us toward the right movements. Everyone just seemed to “get it.” Sandy and Paula made it so easy to learn!
In the evenings of the first week, my niece and I attended the Gum Paste Course with teacher Mary Gavenda. I loved working in this different medium. Working with gum paste is poles apart from buttercream icing. No piping bags or tips — just rolling and shaping to create extraordinary flowers and embellishments. I made a beautiful bouquet, received a certificate and, best of all, learned some amazing techniques that I can now use to elevate my creations to a higher level! Kudos to Mary — one of the sweetest and most patient women I know.
Fondant Modeling with Lorena Hernandez was just what I needed during the second week. Lorena was upbeat and cheerful and had such a love for modeling those little figures that her attitude was contagious. I found myself talking to the little creatures I made, as she did, on more than one occasion! I mastered another amazing technique I can use to adorn my cakes, and I earned a certificate to match. Awesome!
It was so nice to see many of my daytime classmates taking extra courses, too. The fact that we were in class for almost 12 hours each day without feeling tired still amazes me! We took many breaks, and time flew by because the atmosphere at The Wilton School is so inviting.
To my sheer delight, less than two weeks later, I DID create a cake that was as good as the ones on the wall! We were required to design and create a three-tiered wedding cake. It had to include various border and icing techniques. We were to submit our drawings and discuss the design with Paula, and then order the STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam to create our cake. Yes… Styrofoam. All the dummy cakes in the classroom were made of craft foam!
We were allotted a total of six hours to prepare flowers and embellishments for our final cakes and given an entire day to assemble and complete them! As always, Sandy and Paula were there to offer advice and guide our hands. Can you imagine being in a room where 15 individual, three-tiered wedding cakes are being decorated at once? What a thrill it was … seriously!
We arrived for class on the final day for pictures and a graduation ceremony. Paula taught a few Candy Melt candy techniques and also gave a Swiss buttercream demonstration! We took a group photo and then we all went down the road a few miles to the Wilton Decorating Room for a tour! No cameras were allowed as we gazed upon upcoming website features and cakes that will be showcased in future marketing pieces. While I was there, I actually saw the cake that I had used as inspiration for my aunt’s 50th. Visiting the Wilton Decorating Room was a thrilling experience for sure! I will never forget it.
Here is MY final cake. I used a Wilton cake called “Flowering Romance Cake” for inspiration. All of the flowers are made of royal icing with each tier iced halfway in a basketweave design. I am so proud of this cake.
I cannot say enough good things about my experience at The Wilton School. Sandy Folsom and The Wilton School brought forth a confidence in me that I had not felt in a long time. I am fearless! Anytime I doubt my skills, I think of Sandy and I can hear her saying, “You can do it!” I am sure I will return to The Wilton School one day because the experience just leaves you wanting to learn more. Sometimes in life you just need to take action. You will never know what you are capable of unless you try. Don’t you agree?