The Sweet Taste of Success

By Beacon Staff

“Bells are ringing, lights are flashing, sirens are going off! Somebody just broke one of the ten commandments,” yells cake decorating instructor Beverly Medved.

No, this isn’t a sin of adultery or murder. Someone’s broken commandment number three of Wilton Company cake decorating: “Thou shalt not lick icing from spatula, fingers, or any other body part.”

Several students of the eight-woman cake decorating class at Main Street Art and Crafts Supplies self-consciously lower their fingers and wipe fluffy, Easter-colored frosting onto paper towels.

“That’s the hardest part (not licking your fingers),” said 17-year-old Melanie Nelson, as she struggled to perfect icing “stars” on her practice mat. “The best part is eating what you’re making.”

Melanie Nelson, 12, concentrates on squeezing frosting stars onto a piece of wax paper during a Wilton cake decorating class at Main Street Arts and Crafts in Kalispell.

The cake-decorating class is one of several how-to classes offered by the locally owned arts and crafts store. Owner Rick Latta said cake decorating is one of the most popular courses he offers — along with stained glass and art classes—and that cake-decorating supplies make up one of the bigger sections of his store and about one-fourth of his sales.

Main Street Arts and Crafts offers three levels of cake decorating classes; each class is $30 plus the cost of a decorating kit and includes four sessions over four consecutive weeks. Beginning levels learn the basics of decorating, while the advanced class learns to make tiered cakes.

Members of Monday’s beginning class ranged in experience from 12-year-old Keckeley Habel who said her previous decorating talents were “frosting and sprinkles” to Brenda Guiltner of Columbia Falls who made her daughter’s wedding cake this summer. “Until I put a whole bunch of ribbons and roses on it the cake looked like a kindergartner project,” Guiltner said.

Latta said classes, studio time and one-on-one attention are part of what gives his business an edge over large competitors.

“I can’t compete with Wal-Mart prices, but Wal-Mart doesn’t walk customers through projects, give them ideas, teach them tricks or have a studio with tools where people can come and work and ask questions,” he said.

Wilton Method Cake Decorating Instructor Beverly Medved, center, points out bits of “magic” in Keckeley Habel’s, 12, frosting design on the first day of cake decorating class.

Beginning stained glass classes usually run around seven weeks – “We stick with them as long as it takes for them to complete a project,” Latta said – and cost $150, including glass and supplies. Advanced classes run for 12 to 14 weeks and cost $295 plus the price of some glass.

Latta said the store also offered shop time for $10 per hour and plans to restart art classes as soon as he finds a new teacher.

The store doesn’t stop at teaching people arts and crafts; it also provides a place for them to sell them, Latta said. The basement of the store sells projects made by Montana artists, mostly local, ranging from paintings to crochet.

“It gives people a chance to try and sell their stuff,” Latta said. “A lot of times they won’t think it’s good enough or will be hesitant to try, but once they do they end up bringing in armfuls because their stuff is selling.”

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