Friday, October 17, 2014

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Kristen Erich!

When I think of Bliss Pastry I think of beautiful, ethereal, finely crafted cakes in jewel tones with lots of texture! Some of my all-time favorite cakes have been created in Kristen’s kitchen, so I’ve been dying to interview her and learn more about the creative artist behind the masterpieces! And she didn’t disappoint!! Kristen is as lovely as she is talented! 

Name: Kristen Erich
Business Name: Bliss Pastry
Location: Deland, Florida


Introducing…… Kristen!

***Tell us a bit about yourself ***
I am the mother of 4 boys- heaven help me- living in Deland, Florida but am originally from the mountains of North Carolina. Growing up I was heavily involved in community theatre and art with some dance and writing thrown in. After moving to Florida I majored in theatre but eventually settled in to have children. I consider myself extremely blessed to have been given a second chance to follow my dreams after spending a huge chunk of my life working in corporate America and raising my children and pretty well losing my creative side. It is kind of a miracle to realize that yes you can have it all- a family and a dream.

***Tell us about your cake business***
Bliss Pastry has been a business for the last 3 years although I have been baking for over a decade. My recipes have primarily been developed at home over the years or are old family recipes handed down to me by my Mom and Grandmother. Keeping their memory and traditions alive has been the foundation of everything that comes out of my kitchen. 

***Where do you create?***
Everything is created in my entirely too small kitchen. As much as I would love to have more space I have learned to make it work. When you want it badly enough you find a way.

***Is there a story behind the name of your business?***
When I decided I wanted to bake for people as a business I was at a really difficult time in my life. It was the year anniversary of my mother’s passing and I had just been let go from my corporate job. I was grieving. I was lost. I wanted purpose and to find my joy again. I have always been a Joseph Campbell fan. One of his teachings is that in order to reach our fullest potential for happiness, peace and satisfaction in this life that we should each “follow our bliss”… or chase that which brings us joy. For over half my life I had followed a paycheck to pay the bills and care for my children and had long before set my bliss to the side so that it became, I thought, lost forever. But it found me again. There could be no other name for my business. 

***When did you start decorating?***
I started decorating about 3 years ago kind of as a fluke. My mother in law gave me a coupon for the Michael's cake decorating class and thought I might enjoy it since I loved to bake. It took me one class to realize there was an entire world of things I could do with desserts. Things I had never thought of or realized. At that point I was still icing my cakes with a butter knife and it had never even crossed my mind that I could actually buy a piping bag.

***Where did you learn the art of cake decorating? ***
After the Wilton classes I spent hours online looking at cakes. I would see things that I found beautiful and just figure out how to do it. Sugar flowers really blew my mind and I knew I had to try it. String work mesmerized me and I had to do that too. I have taken 3 classes after the Wilton courses. One for cold porcelain flowers and stringwork, one for basic flowers which I had already been making on my own, and one for a very cool funky cake design. Usually I just wing it and figure it out as I go. That is more exciting.

***Do you have a signature style?***
Some people say I have a signature style but I really do not know what that would be. I use a lot of colors and textures and flowers and I think maybe I am better at “chaotic” or “organic” styled cakes.

***What inspires you?***
Definitely nature inspires me above all else. Living in Florida I am surrounded by color even in the winter. Hot pink, shades of emerald, vivid blue skies, rippling water… I can sit and stare for hours at the light and shadows playing on the trees and water. That is constantly fascinating. 

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
I do not really have a favorite medium because I get bored easily so like to be asked to do different things. Definitely I love painting on cakes and anything where I can get my hands in there making different textures or effects. I guess I favor the technique of randomness haha!

***What is your favorite decorating tool?***
My tools are fairly simple because I try not to be a consumer and to use what is on hand or use every day items whenever possible. Or else I would need two houses. The things I could not live without would be my bazillion paintbrushes, box of toothpicks, dry sponges, Creative Cutters metal ball tools and my Ateco teardrop cutters. I can conquer the world with just those tools.

***What decorating tool is on your wishlist?***
The only tool that I want right now would be a new airbrush. Simply because mine keeps breaking. I have used the heck out of my $50 airbrush so it may be time to replace it.

***What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken?***
This is a small pool to choose from but I have to choose two of my 3 instructors. The first being Geraldine Randlesome who taught me to love piping but mostly for giving me the advice that I should choose an area of decorating and specialize in that and to not think I could do everything successfully. I was right out of Wilton classes and knew nothing but I did know that I was determined to prove her wrong. The fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t so I am forever thankful. The second would be my class with Swank Cakes…. Love everything about Wayne and Chuck and I picked up some nifty little tips that really improved my process when I took their steampunk corset class.

***What is your best tip or trick?***
For those who live in humid climates like I do and feel like you are constantly having to battle moisture on cakes when working with fondant you don’t have to fight it. Find a use for it. When you smooth your fondant don’t worry if the cake sweats. In fact I encourage it to sweat. Once it’s good and covered in condensation I use my smoothing tool to go around and around (never pull the tool off the fondant at a perpendicular direction) and use the moisture to polish the fondant. It fills in all the cracks and rough spots as you smooth. Condensation is your friend.

***Who is your “Cake Crush”?***
There are tons of people who’s work I love to see and look forward to but if I had a chance to sit with anyone for a day or learn from them I would love to learn from Lori Hutchinson or Lindsey Sinatra. I would also accept just magically becoming as gifted as they are. 

***What is your best advice for a beginner?***
My best tip has nothing to do with tools or procedure because none of those things will matter if you are afraid. I am afraid all the time of so many things but I say so what and just leap. Any emotion can be used to make great art. Fear, sadness, anger. Anything. It is all fuel.

***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
It depends on the day. Usually I prefer a fruity type of cake with lots of filling but there are times a woman just needs some hardcore chocolate. I like them all but never vanilla with vanilla icing. 

***Tell me some other interesting, fun info about yourself.***
I am not really all that interesting or fun. Ok fine. One of my past jobs was as a manager and photographer of an antique photo studio. I used to dress up like a cowgirl or a saloon girl or in Victorian dresses. During the years I had this job I learned to twirl a pistol, the words to way too many country songs, and once in awhile they would break out the calf roping mechanical bull and I would get up on it in my Victorian clothes and fishnets and start roping men instead of the calf. Best job ever!

***5 quirky or crazy facts about you:***
I am actually a mermaid. No, really I am. I pick stuff up off the floor with my feet instead of bending down and using my hands. I am completely phobic and the list of things I am uncontrollably afraid of is way too long to share with you (spiders, enclosed spaces, germs, water or bugs getting in my ears etc etc). I am 42 years old but I freaking love dubstep music. Very, very loud dubstep music. Most of my cakes are made while listening to Excision or Terravita. I am obsessed with taming the lizards that are out by the pool and have spent hours finding bugs and splashing them up to feed them so they become accustomed to my presence. My husband thought I was crazy but now he does it too.


Thank you Kristen! It was a pleasure getting to know you better! BTW…I’m 44 and I had to Google “dubstep music”…..I think I’m now hooked too! 

1 comment:

  1. Goodness! I've been away so long I didn't know you changed your site! It looks lovely and your profile pic is beautiful. Nice to meet Kristen, her cakes are jaw dropping. Such talent and eye for detail.
    P.S. I had to google dubstep music too...I'm so out of it :)