There are so many things that I have learned about decorating cakes and cakes in general since I started decorating them almost 2 years ago now. Most, if not all, of the things that I have learned have been learned through trial and error.
No, luckily I haven't dropped a cake yet. Every time someone asks me if I have, I wince a little when I tell them no, knowing that my turn is going to have to come. It is bound to happen eventually. I don't think any cake decorator can avoid such a disaster.
But anyway, here is a list of some of the things I have learned since I got into decorating cakes:
1. Always make more buttercream than you think you will need. I have run out of buttercream so many times because I thought I had made enough. And once you get the buttercream a certain color, it is hard to match that color with the next batch you have to make. So, even if you think you are making enough buttercream, make more. Make more until you KNOW that it is going to be enough to cover and decorate that cake. Seriously, did leftover buttercream hurt anyone? I didn't think so.
2. Dry your hands on a paper towel, not a towel, when you are going to be working with fondant. Why? Because the seemingly invisible fuzzies from the towel will stick to your wet hands and they won't be visible until they are stuck to the fondant. Everything sticks to fondant, and once fuzzies are stuck, they don't want to come out.
3. Bring more decorating tools to an event than you think you will need. If space allows, bring it. If you think you probably won't need that decorating tip or a certain spatula, but there is the slightest possibility that you will? Bring it. If you end up not bringing something, you're going to end up needing it once you get there. That's just how it works.
4. Get used to people watching you. Chances are, when you are setting up a cake at an event, you aren't going to have a space all to yourself. People are going to be walking in and out and doing their own thing. But at some point or another, people will watch you. Whether out of fascination or boredom, people will watch you. You have to get used to this fact and not do something stupid out of nervousness.
5. You learn a lot of birthdays you didn't know before. When you bring a pretty cake somewhere, for some odd reason people start telling you their birthdays? Hmmm..I wonder why that is. ;)