The Taste of Music – 10 Question-Interview with Deborah Harwood
An extremely versatile talent, the "The Crazy Foxy Redhead" is a lovely chatterbox.
Deb is an accomplished part time cake decorator, but full time artist.
She and her friend Ann Arnold scored a gold medal and 2nd place in Class G: Cake Collaborations Class at Cake International London 2016.
She was happy to share her thoughts with you!
Thank you Deb!
How long have you been decorating?
Hi everyone, I’m Deborah Harwood or ‘The Crazy Foxy Redhead’ as I’m affectionately known as by my cakey friends because of my passion for foxes as well as cakes! I’ve been making and decorating cakes getting on for about 12 years now. I only do them part time mainly for family and friends as when I’m not baking I’m jewellery making, specialising in silverwork. My hands are never still, always creating whether to eat or wear! At the moment I’m currently working on writing my saucy cakey novel which I hope I’ll find a publisher for when finished and hit the bookshelves next year!
What is your speciality, what exactly are you best at or love doing when it comes to decorating, why?
I specialize mainly in Novelty Cakes and I’m known for my attention to detail and miniature work. I love to make cakes that make people smile and each cake has a very special meaning to all my recipients. Quite often I’m asked to put their life in cake which gives me lots of scope making pieces to display their hobbies, likes, jobs etc.
What is your favourite technique, medium, why?
My favourite technique is modelling. I can spend hours sitting there modelling pieces although being a perfectionist by nature, they can be made several times before I’m pleased with the end result! It can be a bit annoying at times but that’s me in whatever I make including jewellery and artwork. I always have so many ideas that it’s hard to stop myself! My favourite medium is Squires Florist Paste. It’s a fabulous medium to work with and holds very well when dried and set.
What is the activity that you hate doing as a decorator?
The activity I hate doing is modelling figures. I find them very difficult and often my figures have quite big noses!
I’m getting better with practice but there is certainly an arty technique in creating faces! I also hate making flowers. Rarely am I asked to do them but I think I need to go on a course to learn how and also a course on Royal Icing as I haven’t a clue about that fabulous technique.
Why did you start competing?
I’m not sure why I started competing but I’m of a competitive nature and thought I’d give it a try. Now I’m a competition freak and love the buzz and meeting people. Having entered Squires competitions for many years and receiving Awards and being placed, I thought I’d try my hand at CI for the first time in November 2012. Since then, I’ve been lucky to achieve many awards Gold, Silver and Bronze and have been placed on many occasions 1st, 2nd or 3rd with my competition entries. These events are great places to meet lovely cake minded people, exhibit your work, share ideas and buy loads of new things out on the market - and believe me, I always come home with bags full of goodies to try! As well as competing I’ve been involved in exhibiting work with ShugaRush and currently working with a fabulous group called Sugar Show Productions. We have so far exhibited The Rocky Horror Sugar Show and The Cake Carnival which many of you may have seen. We’re exhibiting again in November at Cake International NEC so watch this space and all will be revealed.
Why did you pick this particular design for your competition entry?
With the Collaboration being a new Category for Cake International, my friend Ann and I thought we’d give it a go. This particular design came from inspiration when we saw a wavy keyboard sign saying ‘Without music life would Bb’. That set many ideas floating around in our heads and being a woodwind player, we felt that it would be a good subject to pursue. I would have loved to have made a clarinet but the timescale was too short to get this done. We loved researching this subject and I did this in memory of my mum who sadly passed away in February as she loved music and always backed me in everything I did. And she must have been looking over us as we received a Gold and Second place for our entry.
What was the hardest part in creating it?
The hardest part of it was creating things life sized. Musical instruments can be quite technical in appearance and getting it right had to be spot on. The difficult piece for me was the recorder which broke several times during construction. Sadly a few pieces broke in transport which was a real shame especially having put hours of work into them. Ann had some frustrating moments making the tambourine but finally got there in the end with a few changes to the design.
What was the funniest story that has to do with this competition?
There were several funny moments creating our pieces but some I don’t think will get to print and I’ll save them for my novel!
Because there were life sized pieces in our entry I think the funny moments were when I kept picking up the mug of coffee by mistake to take a drink out of it or write with the pen! Yes, I thought they were real, it’s unbelievable especially as I made them! Absolute craziness! It must have been the all nighters working and lack of sleep! lol
And yes, I also picked up the Penny Whistle several times wanting to play that too!
What was your favourite entry other than yours?
There were loads of fabulous entries this year especially in the Small Decorative Exhibit so it’s very hard to choose and that must have been a very difficult category to judge. I loved Dawn Butler’s Albert Einstein cake in the Decorative Exhibit class. The sheer perfection of her work and the hair was absolutely amazing. Congratulations Dawn on Best in Show, really proud of you and well deserved.
What is your advice to aspiring cake contestants?
My advice is to keep persevering! You get better and progress over time. Create something that you want to, something different that grabs the judges attention. Most of all, enjoy! I’ve met some fabulous friends through competing, friends for life and we have so much fun meeting up and enjoying these events together. Not to mention messaging each other at stupid o’clock in the morning when we’re still up caking and finishing off our pieces in sheer panic!