Interviews #15: Neli Josefsen
My name is Neli Josefsen. Living in Norway. A native Bulgarian though.
An ex-musician. There are those who say, there is no such thing as ex-musician. Well, they are maybe right.
My job with music has given me so enormously much, I consider myself extremely lucky to live the life I have had so far.
Long time ago I came to Norway as a musician, and I stay there. Grateful to all the nice people that I have been given the chance to meet through the years.
I would like to tell you about a particular one: a little story, that has something to do with cakes.
In a Norwegian forum I said once, that I don’t have many – if any – tools to use in my working with the sugar dough. I just mentioned it like that, among other things… Then, in some days, suddenly a parcel appeared in my postbox, just out of the nowhere. I was a set of modelling tools, and some other different things for cake decorating.
A lady from that forum sent me this great, great surprise – as a gift!!! This is something, that still make me feel so overwhelmed and short of words to describe. It is one of the dearest things that have happened to me in my life!
Answering to such an act is not easy. I did not really know how to; angel was the first thing that came to my mind. And that is what I made – a simple sugar angel, to that lady-angel.
And guess what! This fondant angel is actually still living. The last month I saw it on the cake-show. The lady had put it in the exhibition, just as a show-piece, with my name on it. Things like that make you speechless! I do not know if every one of us is blessed with such moment in our life, but I hope so! For such miracles make us better people, they give meaning, they do make the world brighter, richer and better. Thanks for all the nice moments I have been given!
*Neli’s: CakesDecor Profile *
How did you first get started with cake decorating?
I started with the pictures of the cakes and figurines to the great Ballina, Sanchez and Marcela Capo that I saw. It was like a golden door opened and let me in to a different space and time, better than the one, we usually live in. It was like magic, I suddenly find myself believing in Santa Claus and Donald Duck again, it was so fantastic! I didn’t find peace of mind before I mixed some fondant and gave it a try. And it was heavenly. Though so impossible to achieve the ideas I had in my head! I started with the simplest gelatin-fondant and it was doing its best to discourage me. I won.
I did repeat three or four of those known cakes before I decided to make my own design. And after that I actually stopped looking at cakes at all. I deliberately avoided the “traps” that could lead me to others’ cakes. It was because I did not want to – deliberately or not – copy someone else’s style or a particular cake. But that was in the past; now I do enjoy others’ work and it is a great pleasure to find all the beauty there is all over the world.
What has been your greatest challenge?
The most challenging thing must be to find someone to make a cake to.
Well, this was the funny thing (at least I’d like to think that It was soo very funny ;)
But, thinking over it, there is a big portion of truth in that sentence. We are a small family and it’s hard to find really many occasions for a cake. Then, after long time, passed since the last time, one looses the motivation, things begin looking kind of out of perspective and I do struggle sometimes to ever get started with a new project.
Otherwise, when it comes to the technical issue, I in a way believe, that the essential thing is to find your own “formula”. To “discover” that fondant, which suites one’s own way of working and modelling. I myself use only homemade fondant and this has been a rather long process of trying, trying and trying again to make it willing to cooperate.
When it comes to the figurines, I am in no doubt: the most difficult thing to make is a couple, or two pieces in contact with each other. Like the banjo-playing skeleton. And the ice skating snowmen.
One project, that did really gave me a hard time, was the season-box. Such a finicky job! I promised myself never to do something like that again :)
What is the most rewarding part of cake decorating?
This can vary. Sometimes I find it really funny to make a tiny face, it happens I smile to it, all alone, it gives me a nice feeling. Some other time it is the fulfillment of a bunch of sugar flowers, or the moment I realize that yes, this is going to work! And yet, forming, and especially coloring the faces must be the part, that is the greatest pleasure. I notice that I move further and further away from figurines, cakes without “dolls” attract me more and more, but still I haven’t quite given them up because of the pleasure making them.
Could you give some tips to people who have just started decorating cakes or would love to start?
To those, who are just beginning with cakes I would tell…Well, I don’t know if I am in a position to give advises, but I could speak about my own experience. I never asked questions. I simply looked for the answers. I believe, that knowledge, which we have made an effort to achieve, is worth more than the one, that we are just given the easy way. Trying to come to the solution, we discover other useful things on our way and this for me has been very helpful. I could maybe say something else, too: it may be more difficult to repeat a design than to create own one. Trying both ways one will soon discover how giving this is to create something, that is one’s own completely, made with own hands and soul, too.
One really useful thing to remember can be this: if you can’t beat it, join it (sorry for the cliche’.) If something can not be done completely (or acceptably) straight, then it might be better to leave the whole idea of “straightness” and go for something deliberately twisted. It is a rule, that is very helpful not only in cake making, but in anything else we do also.
How did you find CakesDecor.com and what is it that keeps you coming back?
This is a difficult question. I…I don’t remember exactly, it happened somehow, from link to a link…But after I first got here, it took me just a glance to see the beautiful, stylish design of the site. It was friendly too. And it still does. And, not at least, there was such stunning quality of the cakes, that was shown here. Great, great talents, amazing creations, a need to see them again and again – the old ones, the new ones, it must be the beauty, that leads me back here again and again. No cake is really completed before we show it to those, who share the same interest and get their approval. This community is so important, thank you all!
But there is one more thing that is important, at least for me. I like very much, that there is someone here for us all the time. Michal never lets us alone, always gives us a nice word and encouragement and it feels good and safe. Thanks for this feeling!
Which one of your cakes is your favorite?
It is a question, that made me think a bit. The answer though is far from clear. Because of my profession (or maybe not), I am extremely fond of the great Nat King Cole. And I just had to make him a cake. This one was a dummy, something else would have been unthinkable to me. So this cake is very dear to me, each time I see that face, my heart skips a beat, this is such a nice feeling.
There are those, who say, that their favorite cake among mine is the one with the mouses. Others put high the 3D-Bakhus. Or Africa.
No, it’s not easy to pick just one; I think, that I more or less find the big pleasure in making the cake and after it’s done, is the next one that counts. Even though I’m not too sure in what I am saying right now, because it is not that simple anyway. But still, the more work, the more feelings, so those big and difficult cakes are higher up on my personal list. Like the Rococo and the one with the unfortunate mouse couple over the sleeping cat.
What’s been the biggest surprise in all of this for you?
It surprises me sometimes how a cake, that does not want to cooperate at all and I have had a hard times working on it, ends up as a favorite one for the audience. Africa is such an example. And, of course, how much of us we are willing to give just for the love of this sugar art.
Thank you so much for your time Neli.Some of Neli’s Cakes