Odelia Judes has yet to come across a face she couldn't sculpt out of Satin Ice fondant . . . and travels from the United States to Australia and back teaching others how to do so. She gorgeously adorns her cakes with life-like figurines that are flawlessly sculpted right down to the smallest of facial details. Learn more about this talented artist and her cake school in Israel in this exclusive interview!
Brief history of your business and how you got to where you are today?
I started baking at a young age. My mother and I used to experiment a lot together, trying all types of cake and cookie recipes. I have always loved art, and as a child I spent hours doodling and sculpting in polymer clay. Combining these two passions into a profession was not something I would ever have imagined possible. It all started in 1990 with my first ever decorated cake. It was my own wedding cake! I wanted to have an elegant wedding cake and decided to make it myself. As there was no Internet at the time, I had to use a book I found in a shop in Britain for instructions. I immediately fell in love! Since people were unfamiliar with fondant cakes, there was not much demand - and I only made a few occasional cakes, for weddings and special occasions for relatives and friends.
In 2004, I launched my business "Odelia's Dream Cakes" and the following year I started teaching workshops and courses in cake design and sugarcraft, working from home. The business grew and in 2015 I opened my studio "Odelia's Sweet Art School," where I teach and create made-to-order cakes for a diverse clientele.
How were you first introduced to Satin Ice?
About five years ago Satin Ice was introduced to the Israeli market, and I decided to try it. I liked it immediately because it was so easy to use, could be rolled out very thin and the covered cakes looked silky and immaculate. After that I started using it exclusively for cake orders and for my classes.
Is there one project that stands out?
In 2012 I was commissioned by the British Embassy in Israel to make a cake for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. It was a great honor for me!
What is your signature style & inspiration?
Cakes with sculpted figurines
My Winter Wonderland cake.
I love its minimalist and unique design - and I am especially happy with the white fairy I sculpted on top.
Most challenging cake to date?
I cannot recall a specific cake which was challenging to make. I remember the first cakes I made when I had to cope with every project I had - finding solutions and developing my own techniques to accomplish my goal was very important. There was hardly any information available online and so every cake was a challenge in itself.
What tips can you offer to Satin Ice newcomers?
I teach my new students that Satin Ice should be rolled out thin - unlike other brands of fondant. They should ice or ganache their cakes perfectly, refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes and then cover it with a thin layer of fondant.
Describe your cake decorating style in three words?
Versatile, minimalist, figure-based!
What is a 'regular' cake decorating day like for you?
Often a day starts with a class, whether a one-time workshop or a class which is part of a course. In each case - a class runs at least six hours. While teaching, my assistant deals with ongoing administration matters, bakes cakes for orders and prepares the next workshop. Often in the afternoon and evening I work on a cake order, which takes me into the early morning hours. Balancing my work with running a household is always a challenge. Fortunately, both my sons are grown up and independent so they need less of my time and attention at home.
(Odelia teaching at her studio and pictured with fellow Artists of Excellence at The Americas Cake Fair)
What is your creative process for making cakes?
Before I start working on a cake order I search for inspiration, depending on the theme of the cake. I choose the color scheme and the general style of the cake and draw a rough sketch. I will start with the sculpted element, whether it is a figure or an object, and continue with the cake - allowing myself some flexibility to divert from the original scheme.
What is inspiring you this very moment?
Everything around me! It is summer now, so I am inspired by the colors that define the season, like the beach, the sun, flowers and fruits. Also fabrics and graphics, as well as fashion and event styling.
What is your favorite part about designing cakes?
My favorite part starts after the cake is covered and becomes a blank canvas. The workspace is clean and the fun begins. Creativity starts to flow and colors, textures, and modeling take over.
What is your favorite cake flavor?
Chocolate mud cake filled and covered with chocolate ganache. It's normally my clients' favorite and is mine too!
If you weren't decorating cakes, what would you be doing?
Interior designer. I love colors, textures, accessories…. I had a ball while designing my own studio!
Who is your favorite cake artists in the industry and why?
There are so many! But to mention a few:
- I admire Ron Ben Israel's immaculate wedding cakes, his flower arrangements leave me speechless every time.
- I love Jacqueline Butler's modern approach to flower making and her signature color choice.
- I adore Tracey James' vintage style and her gorgeous peonies and roses.
- Kaysie Lackey is an amazing artist, the queen of gravity-defying cake.
- I love Karen Marie Portaleo unique, artistic figures.
What are the big trends you are seeing right now in the industry?
Drip cakes, extreme gravity-defying cakes and figure modeling - which is becoming more and more realistic and amazing!
What do you aspire to accomplish with each creation?
I spend much of my time teaching and with running a business I am limited by clients' constraints. And with that I do not always have sufficient opportunity to express my creativity to the fullest. I am always looking forward to the opportunity to create cakes allowing artistic expression of my art and style.
If you could create a cake for anyone in history (past or present): Who would it be and why?
I would love to create a cake for Marie Antoinette - and it would be an elaborate, baroque-style cake with no size or artistic limits. I can imagine the figures that I would sculpt - textures, patterns, and the amounts of gold luster I would use. After all, Marie Antoinette gave us the legitimacy to eat cakes, when out of bread ;)
(Photo from neonscope.com)
What is the next "big thing" for you?
Having taught and demonstrated in the United States and Australia, my next big thing would be to teach in China (scheduled for this autumn). I find teaching abroad very exhilarating and I enjoy meeting cake enthusiasts from all over the world!
Name: Odelia Judes
Location: Ra'anana, Israel
Education/Training: English Linguistics and International Relations. As for cake decorating, I am mostly self-taught. Over the years, I was fortunate enough to attend a few classes with internationally renowned sugarcraft artists.
Cake philosophy: Julia Child said a party without cake is just a meeting… I totally agree. The cake should be the centerpiece of the event, fulfill the celebrator's dreams and bring happiness and joy. I am happy my occupation allows me to fulfill peoples' dreams with a festive, tailor-made cake.