Jessie Bostick is sweet on her career.
The owner of Sugar Doodles makes decorative sugar creations and shows others how to do the same.
Thursday evening, she brought her gum paste (edible sugar dough), stencils and tools to Belleville's Nichols Center for a class on simple flowers.
"If I ask where my glasses are, they are on my head," she said to the four women and an 8-year-old girl sitting at a table in front of her. "Welcome to the simple flower demonstration. If you have any questions, just ask. This is real informal. It's a chance to learn and touch and feel and get excited. Have any of you ever worked with gum paste before?"
Before the hour-long class was over, they understood and had tried their hand at making a calla lily, a rose and a poinsettia.
"You can do this and people will say, 'That's amazing,'" said Jessie. "Making flowers is the highest form of gum paste art. You have learned something it takes others years to perfect."
Jessie, 52, is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran and former private security analyst.
This is my third career," said Jessie, who lives near Millstadt, with her husband Steve, and their three dogs "all rescues from one place or another."
"I decided I really didn't want to do security. It was more risk assessment and threat management. It was depressing. You look at the worst side of human nature. I wanted to do something more positive. You know what? People like to eat."
She received her American Culinary Federation certifications through Lake Washington Technical College in Kirkland, Wash., in 2010.
"When I was going to culinary school, part of that regimen was going through baking. I wanted to be a personal chef, but didn't want to take the baking segment. I did it because it was required. I had such a good instructor, I took a few more. There was a section on sugar art. I was hooked."
Sugar art gave her a creative outlet.
"I was always the math and science person in the family," she said. "I was always a little envious of my sister and brother and mom. All of a sudden, I had something I could work with and was kind of good at."
"About a year before I finished my degree, I was also thinking about teaching. 'Hey, I could do this for people.'"
She moved to the metro-east from Seattle four years ago.
"When I came here, I didn't know any bakers. I just started playing. My sister and I started making stuff. I joined the Sugar Guild. One thing led to another."
She's been a big winner in Belleville's annual Gingerbread Walk contest. You may remember her cookie-scale dragon with red licorice fire coming from its mouth or the intricate design of the Crystal and Spice shop.
"The dragon took a week," she said. "Crystal and Spice, three days, but it was a long three days."
She enjoys everything about her craft and shares her enthusiam and talent whenever she can.
"I like playing with it all. Gum paste, fondant, modeling chocolate, sugar, gelatins ....
"When I fell into sugar art, I saw how excited people got at something I made. That's the feeling I want. I know I am not changing the world. The way I see it is more people are laughing and enjoying what they are doing."
Because Jessie was an instructor in the Air Force (beginning in the Air Force's version of "Top Gun" school), she said it felt natural to start a business teaching her skills to others.
"Sugar Doodles is all about getting you to your masterpiece and having fun along the way. "
Jessie now teaches at Toots' Cake and Candy Supplies and Fischer's Restaurant. She also does private parties for all ages.
Shelley Zotz, of Belleville, took the simple flower class with granddaughter Taylor Jackson, 8, a third-grader at Abraham Lincoln Elementary.
"Jessie has her hooked," said Shelley. "The first class we came to was around Christmastime. We made little elves. She picks up stuff and works with me all the time. After (Taylor) finishes homework, the first thing she wants to do is play with gum paste."
Interested in seeing Jessie in action? She will demonstrate how to decorate dog treats at Toots' Cake and Candy Supplies, 1915 North Belt East, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 6. Take her Diva Cake class 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Fischer's, 2300 W. Main St., Belleville. She'll show how to make a purse. For more information, visit Jessie's website, sugardoodles.org