Some of the flowers that are made by sugar flower artistes like Robert Haynes (Sugar Flower Studio), Jacqueline Butler (PetalSweet) Christine Craig (La Lavande Sugar Florist) Peggy Porschen, Sanna (Sannas Tartor, Sweden and Kara (Kara Couture) – just to name a few – are truly-breath taking and so lifelike. They say that pictures speak a thousand words and that is certainly true of the works by these artistes.
I have come so far since I started a year ago. I have picked up so many tips either through the classes I have attended, family and colleagues and through the internet especially the cake decorating groups. With full determination and patience and plenty of help from various youtube tutorials such as those by lovely Edna de la Cruz, Amy Noelle from “Howcast”, Michelle Rea (InspiredbyMichelle), Caljava, Duskyroseveiners, Paul Bradford and from Craftsy, I have managed to create (and was not disappointed by my efforts as I had received plenty of oooohs and aaahhhhs) the roses and fillers for my wedding cakes.
Making sugar paste flowers can be as hard or as simple as you want it to be. It depends on which or what flowers you want to make, how delicate or lifelike you would like it to be, how light or deep the colours or combination of colours you wish to add as well as the sorts of cutters and veiners available on hand.
You can simply brighten up your cake with simple designs. With the use of additional tools like the plastic veiner below, you can soften the petals and give it some flow and movement. With a touch of colour, you will add more interest to the eye. Sometimes, all these do not matter and you create a fantasy flower which is different from the norm and that is really ok.
With just these simple cutters, you can create a simple but stunning design – here is an example from The Wedding Specialists.
The rose is probably the first flower which most newbies would attempt. It can be challenging and fiddly to really capture the flow, the softness and the lines of this flower. Additionally, there are just so many different types and colours that there is not one technique (nor tool) to create the perfect rose or any other flowers, for that matter.
In my experience, the most important material when making flowers (or leaves) would be the sugar or flower paste. This has also helped to finesse my technique. Bearing in mind the weather conditions (especially humidity) I have found that store bought gum paste (flower paste) can be tricky most times, as they can get too sticky or dry too quickly or too soft to be rolled out thinly. I have tried Bakels (sticky, soft and pliable, takes a very long time to dry out, if they actually do), The Cake Decorating Shop (local store in Miranda – paste is ok during winter), Satin Ice (sticky, soft and difficult to roll out thinly) and Cake Art (more suitable for modelling). I have tried and made Nicholas Lodge/Alan Dunn’s paste which I love. I am now loving Michelle Rea’s flower paste as the recipe does not contain gelatine, except it contains uncooked egg whites and potato starch which I won’t recommend anyone to eat. BUT the biggest advantage is YOU CAN ROLL IT (VERY VERY) THINLY!!!.
If I can roll out the flower paste thinly, I am then able to create more flow and movement with the veining or ball tool. Bearing in mind that not all flowers have thin petals and some cutters like the above are not suitable for cutting on thinly rolled paste. You can, but as I found out, it is a bugger to get them off!
I find that the type of brush I am using is important as that would determine how the colours turn out. For example if I wish to highlight the veining effect, I would use a bigger and flatter brush. With the tip of the brush, brush sideways (horizontally) across the petals. If I wish to colour the edges of the petal, I would use a medium brush and from the tip of the petal brush inwards. However, if you wish to colour the inside of the flower, always colour from inner to outer and that would give a more natural and look.
My first few attempts at making roses with sugarpaste (flower paste)
Roses on my first wedding cake (not my wedding though….
Below a bed of roses on a chocolate birthday cake for my sister-in-law in Singapore. I hand carried it all the way on the flight. I even managed to talk to the crew to allow me to board the plane first as I needed to ensure that I had room in the overhead compartment for my luggage. I was lucky that they were so helpful as the flight was full.
The technique in making sugar paste roses was further refined when I attended a cake decorating class at TAFE, watched Nicolas Lodge from one of the Craftsy online courses, reading Peggy Porchen’s ‘Cakes in Bloom’ sugar craft book and also by watching even more youtube tutorials (KARA COUTURE – which I am still trying to get positioning of the petals right :-(). I do hope that I can manage to refine my skill especially in the art of dusting/colouring so that the flowers are more lifelike and stunning just like La lavande or Robert Hayes or Sannas Tartor to enable me to create a masterpiece for the next wedding cake…
This was my class project at TAFE.
Below roses were part of a second wedding cake (my nephew’s wedding).
These are my recent projects. The hues on these roses are based on the amount of colours added to the flower paste. They have not been dusted.
I love orchids, I think they are delicate, elegant and very graceful. I have a way to go with refining my skill in frilling the edges as well as colouring or dusting. There are various ways and tools to use to frill – even a simple tooth pick is handy! I watched various free online tutorials and also bought an online Craftsy ” Exotic Sugar Orchids: Making Sugar Flowers from Gum Paste” course conducted by James Rosselle. The benefit of taking an online course is that you can start and stop at anytime, chat with the instructor and asks any questions.
I recently attended Michelle Rea’s (InspiredbyMichelle) class and below is the result of my handiwork:
Below is the David Austin English rose.
Below is a gorgeous dahlia
During the session, I was so busy following the instructions and keeping up with the other students who are professionals, that I did not take down any notes. As a result, I had to try to remember the steps and have managed to regurgitate these from memory. I don’t think they look bad at all (sell praise is to a disgrace :-). Making these flowers is time consuming and I am thankful that the sugar or flower paste which I made (based on Michelle’s (InspiredbyMichelle) recipe) is so forgiving and does not dry out too quickly. It allowed me to take my time in doing all the fiddly bits and I was even able to have a cuppa in between.
Another attempt at the David Austin Rose..
And the Dahlia
Now (November/December) is the rose peony season and I could not resist the temptation of buying and making these blowsy, flamboyant flowers. In full bloom, these rose peonies extend to 6-7 inches wide!
Below are the real flowers..
Here are my early attempts at making peonies – open and close.
So now that I have added more flowers to my repertoire, I can use either one or both for the next wedding or birthday cake!