10-Question-Interview with Karen Keaney
Eve, the Elvish Queen's creator Karen Keaney scored a gold medal and a second place in Class J: A Decorative Exhibit at Cake International London 2016.
She was happy to share her experience as a cake contestant with you and talk about her entry.
Thank you Karen!
How long have you been decorating?
It's over three years, I was a baker for 6 years before that and have a background in art so it was a natural progression, two of my passions coming together!
What is your specialty, what exactly are you best at or love doing when it comes to decorating, why?
I love creating one of a kind 3D sculpted cakes and I also love tall super detailed tiered cakes. Anything I can let my imagination run free on.
What is your favourite technique, medium, why?
I love airbrushing and handpainting, it's two of my favourite things to do, I make a lot of cakes in white and add the colour at the end. I love watching pieces come to life with colour.
What is the activity that you hate doing as a decorator?
Why did you start competing?
I started competing in 2014, I entered the Irish Sugarcraft show with a macabre wedding cake. The theme I chose was dead pirates. It won gold, best in class and best in show. That was it, I was hooked! I love competing, it gives me a chance to create elaborate cakes and push my limits.
Why did you pick this particular design for your competition entry?
I love all things fantasy and I had wanted to do a bust for a while so I created Eve, the Elvish Queen. She is not based on any character she came from my imagination, she is what I imagine an Elvish Queen would look like, regal and full of wisdom.
What was the hardest part in creating it?
Putting her eyelashes on individually. I was putting one on and knocking 2 off at the same time. It was worth it in the end though!
What was the funniest story that has to do with this competition?
My journey! I live in Ireland and I usually fly to competitions in the UK, taking my cake as hand luggage. It's a nerve wrecking journey. I stayed at the airport hotel the night before because I was getting the first flight at 6am. I woke up 3:45am and went down to my car to move it to the airport car park next door, everything went fine until I tried to get back into the hotel, it was locked! No one was in reception but there was a sign to ring the doorbell for the night porter, I rang 5 or 6 times and no one came. I started to panic, my phone was also in my room so I couldn't call anyone either. There was only one thing for it, I pried the automatic doors apart (Wonder Woman theme tune going on in my head) and got in! It was stressful at the time but funny when I look back at it!
What was your favourite entry other than yours?
I loved Rhianydd Webbs Mr. Chanterelle and Jacqui Kelly's vagabond, they are both slightly on the dark side but very beautiful and exceptionally detailed at the same time. This is the style I'm very much attracted to.
What is your advice to aspiring cake contestants?
Enjoy it! Don't concern yourself with what anyone else is doing. Make something you love, read the rules at least twice, keep your work clean and neat and always get feedback from the judges, it's very important so you can grow as a competitor. Lastly be a good sport, it's not always easy and we don't always agree with the judges decision but sometimes it says more about your character to accept it and move on and think about your next competition.