Before Course 1, I would suggest investing in a BJ's/Costco/Sam's Club sized can of Crisco, and a couple of similarly-sourced bags of confectioner's sugar (you'll go through about 8 lb confectioner's sugar in Course 1 alone). If you're thinking of continuing on with courses 2, 3, and 4, I'd get the big (16-oz) size of Meringue Powder, rather than the 4-oz one.
The Course 1 Resource Center has a list of what you need for each class: http://www.wilton.com/classes/wmstudents/decorating-basics-student-supplies.cfm
I already had a lot of the "optional" stuff when I started course 1 (icing bag holder, bag ties, extra 104 tips, 789 tip, large coupler, large bags, turntable) but I still ended up buying stuff -- the most important (and expensive) of which was the new cake carrier with turntable (easier than carrying both a cake-in-carrier and a separate turntable), but also bake-even strips. I also bought a cake tester (finding too many issues with toothpicks), the large cake leveler (the small one was too small to use with the turntable, which is removable for serving the cake), and a few other things (such as cake boards).
Lolololololzz: Posters on some other threads mentioned a cake carrier with turntable that cost about $6 at either Target or WalMart (I don't remember which). In addition to the carrier/turntable and ingredients, you will need everything in the Course 1 kit except the parchment triangles (which are only used for piping gel transfers), and also a cake leveler and a 11-13" angled spatula. If you'll be using the 789 tip to ice the cake, you'll need that plus at least one large bag (either a 16" featherweight or a small box of 16" disposable bags). My classmates for Course 1 told me that a lot of the stuff was cheaper at WalMart - but if you use the 50% off coupons at your local Michaels, A.C.Moore, Jo-Ann, or Hobby Lobby, and buy one piece at the time (say, one piece before, and/or one piece after, each class), you can pick them up for half-price.
I'll preface what I'm about to say with the statement that the Wilton classes have opened up a whole new world of fun and excitement and challenge for me. I recommend that ALL newbies to cake decorating start with the basic instructions/tools/pans/supplies/ingredients required to complete the 4 Wilton Courses. This will be your basic stuff. AFTER you take all 4 courses, you can move onward and upward if you wish, or be content with the new skills which you can continue to improve for years to come.
I took the very last of the "old style" Wilton courses in Feb/Mar/April/May of 2010. I kept a detailed record of ALL my expenditures for everything that I purchased. (My definition of expenditures: All items/ingredients/supplies that I would NOT have purchased if I were not taking cake decorating courses.)
I overspent on some stuff, because I didn't have enough knowledge to be able to discern what was essential and what was NOT-essential. However, I can safely say that if you wish to take all 4 courses and do it right, with ONLY the essentials, you will end up spending between $100 to $150 PER COURSE, for a total of $600-$800.
There have been numerous blogs/threads online about what is essential. Do some internet research.
Use a craft store COUPON for everything you buy!
Purchase the Ultimate Professional Cake Decorating SET. (The one with ALL the tools!!!!! NOT the one that is just the container! NOT the empty "Rolling Tool Caddy"!!!)
Here's the link to the one you SHOULD PURCHASE:
Purchase the Round pan set:
Purchase the basic Trim 'n Turn® PLUS Cake Turntable (for $14.99 before coupon). You can always upgrade later if you wish.
If you don't already own a Stand Mixer, you will probably want to get one. I purchased my Kitchen Aide Artisan 5 qt. model off Craigslist for $150.
You will "outgrow" the Wilton Tool Caddies in about 2 minutes. A wheeled office cart (pic below) is a great low cost alternative that will allow you to haul just about everything to and from all your classes.
And last, here's a link to a super-long thread with TONS of information for newbie cake decorators. Hope some (or all) of the information is helpful.
How-To tutorials/videos for Cake Decorators
- wheeled office cart6.jpg ( 18 KB)
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