In the age of Instagram, baking is no longer baking.
It’s an art form.
Bakers are no longer just bakers.
And cake makers aren’t just cake makers.
They are cake artists.
And cake artist Leslie Vigil is becoming one of Instagram’s most popular cake artists.
She doesn’t just make cakes.
She creates stunning masterpieces from cake.
Here we have a delicious looking sushi dinner and a colorful sugar skull all crafted from cake.
It isn’t hard to see why the Ontario, California based baker and instructor calls herself a “flour child.”
Vigil began decorating cakes when she was just a child after accompanying her mom to a class.
She later attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris to specialize in baking and pastries.
“My mom would often experiment in the kitchen and she took a cake-decorating class. I was so fascinated with all the beautiful things she made and brought home, so I decided to join her. I’d study her cake decorating books and feel so inspired. At the time, I only knew I wanted to make cakes for my kids like that one day, never really considering I could make a profession out of it. I always hoped I could, though,” Vigil told Better Homes & Gardens.
She ended up having a difficult time finding a job after graduation but finally got a gig at Tasteful Cakes in Corona California.
“I took what I learned from school and built upon my knowledge by watching, reading, experimenting, and learning in every way I could. I would even record the cake challenge competitions on TV to study their every move and techniques. I knew I had a long way to go, but I was determined to be just as good! I wanted to have just as much confidence, knowledge, and skill as those competitors did. While the confidence didn’t set in for me until much, much later, I eventually gained enough knowledge and skill to land myself a job at Tasteful Cakes,” she said.
Vigil’s work at Tasteful Cakes earned her a following on Instagram.
She currently has more than 150,000 followers.
Vigil says much of her work is inspired by nature and is all created with a love and passion for baking.
“Inspiration for the kind of cake art I create comes from my love and fascination of nature. I have found so much peace walking in a botanical garden or growing my own cacti and succulents in my own garden. I try to take that feeling and transfer it over to my cake art. Oftentimes during a piping session, I slip into a moment of zen. When I create botanicals out of buttercream, I always have the real ones in mind: how they grow, how they form, how perfectly imperfect they really are,” Vigil says.
Vigil’s has also created a style of her own called “tapestry.”
These are cakes that look like they are stitched with thread.
She achieves this effect by piping fine lines into her cakes.
Many of her “tapestry pieces” incorporate flowers and other pieces of nature.
Her symmetrical decorative designs give her cake a folk-like feel.
You can see the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into each cake.
Some of Vigil’s designs are inspired by different cultures.
The colorful floral designs have been likened to traditional Mexican folk dresses, like those worn by Frida Kahlo.
She has also incorporated Russian stitchwork.
“I love the idea of harmonizing textile traditions from different cultures,” she said on Instagram.
She also includes modern trends into her designs like the color Living Coral. It was Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year.
“I love the idea of harmonizing textile traditions from different cultures,” Vigil said.
Vigil came up with her embroidery cakes through experimentation. She discovered the technique when making a cake for her niece’s first birthday.
She started adding a thread and needle technique to the “1” on the cake and realized she loved the way it looked.
That’s when she incorporated it throughout the cake for the birthday which had a “fiesta” theme.
“I knew that I wanted her cake to be colorful and festive to pay homage to our culture while avoiding the stereotype,” Vigil told BuzzFeed.
Now she is inspired by the work of all different kinds of fabric artists.
“I’m really loving what fabric artists are doing now with their crochet, weaving, and macrame,” Vigil told BuzzFeed. “I’d love the opportunity to explore some techniques to recreate those gorgeous textures.”
Her cakes use cross-stitching, needlework, and embroidery.
Once she posted a picture of her niece’s cake online, people started requesting them.
This includes brides who wanted her to replicate the details of their dress into the cake.
“The technique has really evolved since I first started!” Vigil says. “It’s all very personal and nostalgic. And while I love the way the cake turns out, I think the sentiment is the most beautiful part.”
Vigil says it’s easy to get immersed in her work and that joy is the key that keeps her going.
“I have the tendency to completely submerge and overextend myself with my work, so to avoid burning myself out, I simply take a break. Sometimes that means just hanging out with my husband, Dan, who constantly makes me laugh,” she explains.
“Sometimes I’ll take some time to play in the garden. When Dan and I have a free afternoon, we’ll go to the Huntington Botanical Gardens or drive out somewhere in the mountains and just reconnect with peace and quiet, which allows me to reconnect with my joy and boost my creativity.”
She says she works hard to keep a work/life balance.
In addition to decorating cakes she is also an instructor, a new mom, and caretaker.
“Ahh yes, balance. I’m still trying to work on that one! For 40+ hours every week, you’ll find me at the bakery,” Vigil says.
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“It can be a very demanding job, especially during the spring and summer with weddings, graduations, and parties. It definitely keeps me on my feet and on my toes!”
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