It's Artisan Crafts month at ArtHistoryProject, to celebrate I will be publishing interviews on every Friday of December. These four interviews will feature very different artisans.
Where do you draw inspiration for creating art?
Via osmosis. It's actually amazing (and annoying) the times inspiration strikes. It's never the moments when I have freedom to make any creation and am desperately trying to think of a cool idea. I might be doing fieldwork or browsing the internet or a book or at a restaurant and see a concept or a shape and I start wondering, “How could I make that out of cake?” or “How can I put my own spin on this cake/dish?” Half the time I forget them. Often I’ll be lying in bed about to fall asleep and something will hit me. I’m known to leap out of bed at 3am and scribble ideas down.
Do you see a connection between your science studies and your art?
Definitely. We’ve all heard the saying ‘baking is science for hungry people’. [maytel wants to point out that she never heard this saying before but that she likes it] There’s more truth in it than many realise. Cooking is just Chemistry. When you’re baking in particular, once it’s in the oven you have no control any more. It either comes out right or it doesn’t. Understanding what dry heat does to a flour mixture helps you understand what’s happening and, more importantly, what went wrong. When you know the chemical reaction that takes place as the fats and sugars melt and how that reacts with the gluten and the starch, you know why that cake failed to rise.
When did you first show an interest for Culinary Arts?
I have to thank my boyfriend for that, really. He and his family are incredibly food orientated. Celebrations always involve food as the focus. They opened my eyes to this amazing world of cuisine I never knew existed. There were lots of little things that happened to ignite my passion for food. But I think the real turning point was a little over 3 years ago one Valentine’s Day that a LiveJournal ran an ad for a community blog called BakeBakeBake saying something about baking for your Valentine. I’d just started to dabble in cake decorating, so I joined the community and began to post things I’d baked. It became the catalyst for everything. 3 years later, I now own that LiveJournal community and began Cakecrumbs because of it.
Your Culinary Arts is so beautifully executed, have you been trained by a chef or do you have any experience working in restaurants?
I’m completely self-taught. When I decided I wanted to learn, I soon realised I could never afford classes. There was no one to teach me so I decided I’d teach myself. I’m a kinaesthetic learner anyway, so I never truly learn until I give something a go by myself. But I think there’s a lot to be said for learning from mistakes. I don’t see the value in only being shown how to do something the right way. It’s slower than taking a class or an apprenticeship, but making mistakes, working out why – I believe it’s the greatest teacher.
How has your art progressed over time?
The biggest change is that I started viewing it as art. It began being about baking nice things for my boyfriend and Uni friends. When I started blogging it began being about coming up with new and creative ideas -- I especially loved making food look like something it wasn’t. But joining deviantART made me begin to see food as an art form. I began treating it as art. There’s no way I would have made fan art cakes or entered food into art competitions or collaborations alongside digital and traditional art before. Now I see food as my art medium, not just I think I like to do sometimes.
Your gallery proves that you have more than one trick in your hat, from culinary arts to quilting, is there anything you can't do?
I can’t sing very well! Before going to Uni forced me to quit, I used to dance (jaz, tap and ballet) for about 12 years. Whenever we said we couldn’t do something, the typical response from our dance teachers was, “There’s no such thing as ‘can’t’”. It’s a mantra that stuck with me. There’s obviously a few exceptions when health or socio-economic circumstances hinder someone. But for the most part it’s true. There’s no can’t. There’s only things we haven’t learned to do yet. Sometimes people comment on my posts and say they wish they could do what I do. I really want to make them all see that all it takes is practise and a bucketload of patience. A little over three years ago, I didn’t even know what fondant was and only baked box mixes. All you have to do is start.
If you ever doubt your ability to reach your goals or learn a new skill, listen to Nick Vujicic. He’s a fellow Melbournian -- born without any limbs, he’s now a motivational speaker and an incredible inspiration to anyone who says, “I can’t”.
What is your ultimate dream project?
I’d love to work on something big. Some whimsical, tiered cake of doom. Baking for family means I can’t get too crazy or I’ll waste too much food. I’d love to get commissioned to do something amazing and massive and crazy for someone or something. Being commissioned to do a crazy cake for one of my fandoms by the company that owns it would be a crazy, crazy dream. In the meantime, I have much to learn before that becomes a reality!
Thanks again to cakecrumbs for having allowed us to steal a look into her world for this interview. Join us next week for another interview!