Two weeks ago I was in Birmingham at the NEC with Jackie Curtis from Jax’s Cakes N Bakes for the biggest cake show in the world, Cake International. This involved sitting in a van at 6am waiting to be allowed into the car park behind Hall 17 to drop off out competition piece in the collaboration class. This cake making lark really is glamorous……
Three of us came together to create our entry, myself, Jax and Sarah from The Cornish Cakery, you’re allowed up to twenty people!! So only having three was going to make it a challenge. Especially when you know that we had the space of two trestle tables pushed together to fill! That’s a lot of sugar. And as we all run our own cake businesses, it all had to be fitted in around orders and school holidays. We had to keep telling ourselves that this is fun…. Yep, we were enjoying ourselves…
So why did we put ourselves through this? A question I found myself asking while sitting in that van at 6am in the rain. But there was a good reason behind our madness. And that reason was to create more awareness of mental health, something all three of us suffer from. And it’s something that sadly still has a stigma surrounding it. Which is crazy (see what I did there?) because mental illness is so common. I can guarantee that you know someone who suffers from some form of mental health issue. And so we thought it would be a good chance to turn those thoughts and feeling into a visual display that might get people talking.
Of course it was also a competition piece, so we had to make sure we produced the best work we could. Not easy when you’re having the busiest wedding season so far. And that six months between deciding to do it, and getting it onto that formidable black tablecloth just flew by! Where we happy with it? Yes, although it wasn’t exactly how we first imagined, but not in a bad way. I think it’s great when designs and concepts evolve artistically. And one exciting thing about working in a creative group is that you bounce ideas off one another.
Eventually, after lots of hours and a few changes of direction, we got it finished literally on the morning we were leaving for Birmingham from my studio in Clovelly. I have the space and bifold doors, so it was the perfect place to work on such a big project (it’s still there, we can’t decide what to do with it!) On the Thursday we argued ‘Nelly’, as she’d been named, into the van we had to hire in order to get it there. It took three of us (we borrowed Karren from the gift shop next door) to get her into the van, but there was only the two of us going….. hmmmmm….. this was going to be interesting. What were we going to do on Friday morning trying to get her back out of the van and into the hall? We decided to order room service while we thought about it.
Friday morning the alarm went of at 5.30am. Now I’m the first to admit that I am NOT a morning person, at all, ever. There have only been a very selective number of times I’ve been up at that time of the morning, if you’ve ever lined the red carpet for a film premier then you’ll know the drill. So I was a tad grumpy, poor Jax. Luckily we had stopped on the way and I’d got some of that chilled, ready made, coffee. Plus Jax was driving, so that helped. But we still had the issue of how we were going to get Nelly onto her table. Of course the collaboration tables were as far away from the Hall doors as they could be! Not helpful when our class has the largest and heaviest pieces!! Anyway, the car park guy took pity on us and allowed us to get quite close to the doors. And after a bit of swearing we got her to the tables just inside the door used to make repairs etc. Phew! But now we had to get her all the way across Hall 17 to the display table…..
However we were saved by the cake angel that is Cali Hopper. Now Cali is cake word royalty, she’s one of the most talented sugar artists I’ve ever come across. Anyway, she was at a neighbouring table and we were chatting (I’ve known her for years). Her husband Martin was with her and she offered him to us to help carry Nelly! Saved! It just proves that there’s so much love in the cake world. The # collaboration over competition has never been more relevant. And the name of our group was ‘Kowethegeth’ which is the Cornish for friendship. Very fitting.
Cutting the rest of the story short, as a lot of it involves food, coffee and sleep! The next morning we went to see if we had ‘won’ anything. After all it was a competition. Although that’s not why we entered, it was still something we wanted. And TADA!! We got a bronze medal! Not bad considering we were all creating our elements in our separate work places and bringing them together.
Will we do it again? Well if you’d asked us on that Friday then I’d have said HELL NO!!! But now? Let’s just say there are already Pintrest boards filling up.