It has been a very long time since my previous post. I can’t even think how long ago it was since I sat down in front of a blank screen, with the MS Word cursor blinking at me, waiting for the words to come.
A lot has happened since I made those cookies for Fran’s baby shower. Way back in July, I might have mentioned on Facebook that I had gotten the keys to a space that I was turning in to a cake studio. And then I went quiet. Nothing. Unless you know me in the real world, you probably would have thought that it had all fallen through. It took two very long months of having to push and chase and plead to get things done.
But it’s OK. Negativity over. It’s all done now and I have a 5-star hygiene rating to show for it. And one small other thing: I finally have a fully functioning kitchen. It’s a wonderful light space in which to work and I love spending time here. Time flies and work doesn’t feel like work.
The history of my little studio is somewhat interesting: It used to be a garage. It used to be a sculpture workshop. It used to be a café. And now it’s a cake studio. Rumour has it that the Farnham Pottery was once home to the famous Squire’s Kitchen. I can only hope that they left a little of their magic fairy dust behind so that my (ad)venture with sugar can also be so successful.
I opened the studio quietly at the beginning of September without much fanfare. At some point I’ll get around to getting in some bubbles and snacks and showing it off a bit. One of the first weekends that I was open fell on the Heritage Open Day(s). We hosted a pop-up coffee shop to feed and water the many, many visitors to the pottery. It was great to see so many people in the buildings – some afternoons it is so quiet I barely see a soul. This is great for working uninterrupted but I can’t help but think that the pottery should be buzzing.
I spoke to many people over those two days, making roses and tulips as I spoke. I was really surprised that some of the most interested people in my work were little boys. It’s like they just “get” the structure involved in making things and the sequencing of what needs to happen next. For me, the highlight of my weekend was teaching two brothers how to dust tulip petals and assemble the flower. They took the flower away proudly and they said they were going to give it to their mum.
I also chatted to the photographer sent by the local paper and this must have paid off because there is a little piccie of me working in this week’s edition of the Farnham Herald.
I’ve started to work with a lovely ceramic designer by the name of Samantha Robertson. She hand makes cake stands that are a million times nicer than the “Made in China” marvels which fill my cupboards. I currently have these two beauties on display in my studio. For more of Sam’s work, please go to www.samantharobertson.co.uk
After the HOD, what’s the first thing I do after setting up shop? I close it and go on holiday. What a fabulous businessperson I make! A family wedding on a far away hill called and I went running. But I did have one business related “A-HA!” moment on the plane on the way out. Due to the Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa, all passengers were asked to fill out a health questionnaire to be given to the authorities on landing. (Of course, London & South Africa are not exactly headlining acts in this crisis, but I guess everybody needs to be cautious.) One of the less scary introductory questions asks you to state your occupation. I was like “OMG! I’m officially a Baker. Whoo-hoo!” I think I must be the only person on the planet who has a happy memory associated with the Ebola Virus. But now I’m back and have a very long to do list.
First thing on the list was to make some cakes for the Macmillan Coffee Morning hosted by the Lavender Hill Company, a florist who has a shop in Wrecclesham. I put together these sweet things and delivered them to a bustling shop this morning. I hope that they raise a little cash for this great organisation that helps people through the most horrendous of times.
In between all of these bits and pieces, I’ve been spending my time making up some display cakes to have on show in the studio. The majority are flowers (which I love doing) so task number two on the scary list is to make some display cakes that show the other side of my skill set, more along the lines of my Ellie Pilot & Plane as well as my favourite, that Diner cake. I wonder if it’s cheating to re-create a cake you’ve already made? I’ll have to think on that.
The balance of the “To Do” list is the stuff I think most cake related business owners don’t really care to think about. Accounts. Tax. National Insurance. Admin. Marketing. Hmmm. I think I dozed off there for a second. But I need to get my affairs in order otherwise this studio will be a disaster. Having the studio and making fabulous and pretty cakes is not enough. Anyhow, I must get on with that now.