Note: The latest in a series of stories about classes at the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities' new arts center.

SHAMOKIN - Elaborate cakes tiered with flowers or shaped like dinosaurs will soon be within reach of many Shamokin bakers.

Christine Keefer will teach the basics of cake decorating during the Wilton Basic Course 1 at the Kallaway Center for the Arts.

Beginner students will learn all about working with buttercream and all 12 tips that come with the Wilton Decorating Basics Student Kit.

Keefer said students must purchase the kit for the class, which increased the start-up cost for the hobby, but the tips are reusable and durable.

Students need to purchase the class book, which is available at most craft stores, such as Michaels.

Students will also need to provide their own cakes and icing to use in class. Keefer said she has specific directions for preparing the icing which she will disclose to those registered prior to the first session.

Keefer said the course is perfect for parents of young children because they will save money in the long term by being able to create cakes for birthday parties and events rather than purchase them at a bakery.

Other people who love socializing might also find the class helpful.

"You'll be invited to every party," said Keefer.

Keefer knows from experience. She began decorating cakes at the 26 years ago after attending a Wilton course with her sister at the Shamokin YWCA.

When the instructor did not return after the first course, the YWCA was left searching for someone to fill the role. Keefer, who was an adviser at the YWCA at the time, stepped up to the plate.

She became a certified Wilton instructor through adult education classes and began teaching at the YWCA. Soon she added other locations, teaching at Ames and Boscov's. She currently hosts classes regularly at Michaels.

While arthritis has stopped her from icing cakes professionally, she believes any person can learn the skill through the Wilton courses.

"It's fun and, seriously, it is not hard," said Keefer. "I show you all kinds of neat tricks."

One of Keefer's first tricks is making perfect icing that will taste delicious and slide on smoothly.

In subsequent classes, which Keefer plans to hold at the Kallaway Center following the completion of Course 1, students will learn more advanced techniques. Course 2 focuses on flowers and cake designs, Course 3 teaches the basics of fondant and gum paste and Course 4 students will learn advanced gum paste flowers.

Keefer's classes are limited to six students per session, but she already has additional sessions planned for interested people that can't make the first session.

The Wilton Basic Course 1 begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 7, and runs for four weeks. Each class is approximately two hours long. The cost is $30 and does not include the book, kit and homemade icing.

A second session will begin Aug. 7.

For more information or to sign up, contact Jeanne Shaffer, executive director of the Northumberland County Council for the Arts, at 570-850-9121 or jeannes@ptd.net.