May Ling grew up in the shadow of her father who is a successful businessman. In university, she studied Bachelors of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws due to the influence of the business background of the family.
However, nearing the end of her double degree, she soon realised that it was not what she wanted to pursue in life and decided to only complete her Commerce degree and moved on to patisserie shortly after. May Ling has also worked at a fine dining restaurant in Singapore for a year.
Realising that she needed a strong foundation to succeed in the field of patisserie, she decided to quit her role at the restaurant in order to take on a full time advanced diploma in baking and pastry at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia for 9 months. During her time there, she was given the opportunity to try out different things within the field of patisserie.
While preparing for her wedding, she decided that she would want to make their own wedding cake with her own hand made flowers. With that in mind, she quickly took on some classes and bought some sugar craft books and she has never looked back since.
Although May Ling loves baking and patisserie, there simply isn’t anything that can be compared with the joys that she derives from making sugar and cold porcelain flowers. The hours may be long and it may be a labour of love to craft a flower, petal by petal, but the sense of accomplishment makes it all worth it.
In order to share her passion and desire to create beautiful flowers, May Ling started to teach small group classes and private lessons to others. She established Petals by You in 2018 and now regularly conducts classes in the art of sugar flowers. She has taught many students from Malaysia and overseas as well.
May Ling hopes to continue to spread her passion and love for sugar flowers to other like-minded people through her classes and posts on social media.
Q1: Your flowers look like the real thing, do you ever bring in and reference real flowers when creating your art? Do you prefer using gumpaste over cold porcelain?
A: Thank you!
I do reference real flowers a lot when I am making sugar or cold porcelain flowers. I have collection of flower photos which I’ve sourced online and have seen in gardens. I am planning to buy more flowers in the future for the purposes of studying them.
At this moment, I rely heavily on Pinterest as well as books on real flowers (colour guide, arrangements etc) for my inspiration. I started my flower making journey with gum paste so I’ll always have an attachment to it. However, since I no longer bake cakes, the flowers I make no longer need to be edible so I’m playing around with cold porcelain more these days because they last longer than sugar.
Q2: On your website you’ve stated that your pastry background has taught you that all great things come out of four things: Passion, Patience, Practice and Perseverance. Could you explain this more and let our audience know how you’ve applied this to your life and work?
A: Both pastry and sugar flower making require a lot of passion from the maker in order for them to be good. The processes are repetitive and you have to follow certain steps to achieve the final outcome. Without a drive to continually improve on the art of sugar flowers or pastry, it is very difficult for one to endure the whole process of making a cake or a flower from scratch repetitively.
Besides passion, we need a lot of patience to continually improve and perfect the art of pastry and sugar flower. It is impossible to get good at something on the first try, so you have to be patient with the process and through lots of practice, we eventually become better at it.
In the learning and creative process, there are bound to be mistakes but we cannot give up. We just have to persevere in order to review all our mistakes and improve upon them. Take a simple example of me trying to perfect my sugar rose. It is a basic flower yet a challenging one to perfect. I am still not completely happy with what I make. I have to keep telling myself to be patient when practicing and keep persevering when I make something I don’t like. Without passion, I would not have been able to go through with this whole process over and over again for years.
Q3: When you first started studying to get your degree(s) did ever imagine that this is where that series of events would lead you? If you could go back, would you change anything about your journey? If you hadn’t fallen into this career path what do you think you’d be doing for a living?
A: When I first started studying to get my degrees, I always envisioned myself to be eventually climbing the corporate ladder in either an Accounting or a Law firm. I could never have imagined myself doing something completely different but this is where I am now.
If I could go back, I wouldn’t change anything about my journey. Although it seemed like a long journey with a lot of road blocks and U-turns, it was a great experience to have gone through everything because I got to meet my friends and learn valuable lessons along the way.
If I hadn’t fallen into this career path, I would probably be an accountant or a lawyer.
Q4: What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is getting into crafting flowers? What are your future plans for petalsby.you?
A: Be patient with yourself, keep exploring and never compare yourself with others.
I was in the middle of setting up a studio for Petals by You before the Movement Control Order was introduced in Malaysia due to Covid-19. So once that is lifted and when we’re allowed to operate non-essential businesses again, I will continue setting it up and conduct classes there.
I plan to continue teaching, and perhaps join a competition in the future to test my skills level. Eventually I would like to start selling my flowers but I will have to do more planning for that first.
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