Sweet taste of success for junior sugarcrafters
Little fingers are working hard rolling and moulding pieces of sugary paste into floral works of art.
Others are gripping tiny tools used to stamp decorative edging on icing blocks which will eventually showcase the dainty flowers.
Welcome to the world of sugarcraft – an unusual hobby for children but one in which north Derbyshire excels.
Success tastes sweet for junior members of the British Sugarcraft Guild’s Chesterfield branch who beat off stiff competition from around the world to scoop an international trophy.
The 13-strong group of cygnets, as the young crafters are known, won the silverware for most points along with a gold award in the competition which comes around every four years and is run by the guild.
Their win was particularly poignant as they dedicated it to their branch chairman and guiding light Avil Clay, who passed away after a short illness last autumn.
Avril’s great-niece Lauren Ward, 24, of Wingerworth, said: “She would have been so proud of them. My auntie came up with some of the ideas for the entry about a year ago, when she was well.”
Lauren, who joined the group as a cygnet, is among adults in the branch who share their skills with the budding young cake decorators. She said: “I love helping them and it’s nice to see them achieve. They are a nice little friendship group.”
Max Hudson, 7, of Wingerworth, is the youngest newcomer to the group where his 12-year-old sister Mia, was already a member. He said: “I’ve only been here for two sessions. I just saw Mia doing it and wanted to do it.”
He’s provided company for the only other boy, ten-year-old George Archibald. George, who lives in Tupton, has been in the cygnets for nearly a year where sugarcraft has fired his artistic talent. His creations include decorating a Christmas cake with a washing line and a robin sitting on it. Inspiration to join the group came from his mum Claire. George said: “My mum had done sugarcraft with her Brownies and it was quite good,”
The demonstration for 3rd Wingerworth Brownies also spurred George’s sister Frances. She said: “They showed us how to make owls. It was my birthday and I made a balloon with some spare bits.”
Eleven-year-old Francis has since treated her dad to a cake which she decorated with a bath-tub and a bunny sitting in it.”I chose a bunny because it was cute,” she said.
The brother and sister helped to create the award-winning woodland scene in tasks which were a triumph of perseverance. Frances said: “I made a little toadstool which took about two to three weeks.”
George created a frozen pond using gelatine for the surface. He said: “It was all wibbly at the edge of the pond - it was hard to get right.”
Brownie leader Mel Oldale, 18, contributed a pink pixie to the prize-winning piece. She said: “She has blue eyes and blue eyebrows, a little tutu and a bun in her hair. Her face and her ears were the hardest part to make because of the intricate detail - you tend to squash things with your fingers.
“Sugarcraft is about concentration and persistence - it’s not likely to go right the first time, you tend to stick icing to the table rather than the board.”
Mel’s achievements include decorating a Christmas cake which took three hours. She said: “I had a frozen pond, penguins, a snowball pyramid and several pine trees. It was a challenge but by the end of it, I was so proud.”
A member of the cygnets for two years, Mel, who has lived in Wingerworth all her life, said that she felt heartbroken that this was her final meeting before starting a course in musical theatre at Bird College of Performing Arts in London.
She said: “I hope to carry on with sugarcraft. If my friends have birthdays or do’s, I’ll be nominated as cake decorator. I’d be happy to spend three hours making Christmas cakes.”
l The cygnets meet on the first Friday of the month at All Saints Church hall, Wingerworth, from 6pm to 8pm. The adult group meets at the same place on the third Friday of the month. For further information about joining, call Lauren on 07922 943 353.