Sweet road to success

Daniel’s tasty sugary sculptures give rein to his creativity and sell well too

Making artistic sugary sculptures for the last three years, Daniel Bruce-Alexander has dived head first into the world of sugar art, spending much of his time on his sweet creations.
The autistic teen is a novice cake decorator and lately, he can be found fashioning white chocolate Easter eggs into little animal characters; from tiny elephants and pigs to Easter bunnies and chickens.
“I like making things that I can hold in my hand and seeing the finished product is my favourite part,” said Daniel, 19.
Diagnosed with autism when he was four years old, Daniel has always had artistic talent and has now started using it to make an income. He started his small business, Phoenix Designs, in 2018.
“He’s been making little sculptures for as long as I can remember. When he was little he used to steal the Prestik from the back of posters at school and make all sorts of things out of it; he carried this big ball of Prestik around all the time,” said his mom, Antoinette Bruce-Alexander, who is also the regional manager for Autism South Africa.
“Eventually we took him to art classes [in East London] at Sharon’s Art school when he was about 11. He’s been making little sculptures out of crazy clay since then.
“He left school in 2017 and we wanted to try and find a way for him to use his talents so I started taking him to sugar art lessons.”
Daniel said that he has made hundreds of crazy clay sculptures, both from his own imagination and by copying pictures.
His collections of Pokémon characters, phoenix figurines and other miniature mythical creatures are scattered around his home, much to mom’s delight.
“I think it’s actually going into the thousands now, he has made so many and he doesn’t want to part with any of them, so we had to find something else he could make and sell,” said Antoinette.
Taking private lessons with local cake decorator, Ria Smith, over the last few years Daniel learned all the ins and outs of sugar art, right down to making his very own royal icing.
Today, Daniel can make all kinds of confectionery designs and baked delights; from sugar art flowers and cartoon-like characters to Christmas cakes, and birthday cupcakes.However, with Easter just around the corner Daniel’s focus for the last few weeks has been decorating Easter eggs.“He makes everything himself. I just take his orders for more eggs and ingredients and make sure it’s all there for the artist,” Antoinette laughed.Making sure each detail is perfect; Daniel gives every Easter egg animal character distinct features, whether it’s floppy elephant ears, a pig’s foot or a rooster’s orange claws.Made with fondant, food colouring, Royal icing and chocolate eggs, Daniel’s sculpted treats are edible, right down to the base.“I like making the elephants and the bunnies the most. It doesn’t take too much time and they are easy for me to make," said Daniel.He completes up to six Easter eggs a day, and with some motivation from mom, he makes sure all his orders are in on time.“He really loves it and the dexterity that comes from those hands is crazy, I actually can't believe it; it seems impossible, " said Antoinette.More of Daniel’s cakes, cupcakes and sugar creations can be seen on the Facebook page Phoenix Designs...

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