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Friday, May 25, 2012

Adventures in Gumpaste Flowers

So in the beginning of March I finally made my first wired gumpaste flowers for my competition cake for Mike Elder's KC Cakefest. I had actually bought my supplies (instructional video, wires, cutters, veiners, dusts, etc...) a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng time ago, but was intimidated by the process. A few years ago I decided to give stargazer lilies a try armed with a tutorial found on the internet and a generic leaf cutter that looked like it would work. I made the pistils, stamens, petals; painted them; wired them - all of this went o.k.. Then it came to putting it all together- I could not get the damned things taped together to save my life. I was so frustrated I didn't even attempt other flowers until this year. I had seen many beautiful pictures of peonies on cakes, and the lovely Edna de la Cruz came out with a peony dvd (buy it here: ) , she is an excellent teacher, and my first gumpaste flowers came out like this:

 At the KC Cakefest I bought 2 sets of tulip cutters/veiners from Sunflower Sugar Art: the Holland Tulip and Mexican tulip set. This is the Holland Tulip set:
To start the tulips I started off with some white gumpaste (made with Edna's recipe, also found on her site)
I find it easier to first partially roll out my gumpaste before finishing it on the cel board

 Roll out the gumpaste on the cel board until you can see the impressions of the grooves through the gumpaste. Thinner petal = more realistic petals.

 Then I cut out 7 petals: 6 for the flower and 1 extra in case of breakage:
 Keep the petals under the flap of a Wilton practice board or in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out

 I was having trouble with the wires pooping out when weining and when I set them to dry, so I started bending the wire a little to match the contour of the veiner
 Dip the end of the wire in gum glue (either tylose gum-tex or cmc powder mixed with a little water, the container should have directions/proportions on it). Then place the petal in the veiner and use your fingers to pat it in

 Put on the top and press firmly, then use the ball tool to soften the edges

 Set the veined petal in a deviled egg tray or spoon so it cups as it is drying
 I used more white gumpaste and the smaller cutter to make another set of petals: I had to curve the wires and rest on the table so they would rest in the right shape and not pull out of the petals

 After that I decided what the hell, and used some leftover pink gumpaste to make another set of the larger petals. As I had been making petals I switched from using the ball tool on the thin foam to thinning the petals in the veiner as it seemed easier, had less chance of ripping the wires out, and kept more of the veining

And the I was still feeling squirrely, so I opened up the Mexican Tulip cutter/veiner set (also from Sunflower)

 I grabbed some more of the pink gumpaste and made some more petals. The only different step I used for these was frilling the edges with a veining tool (rolling it back and forth on top of my finger)
 As a side note, although I really like the cutters, the photocopied "instructions" were very vague, and the photo of the finished flower was impossible to make out, just a black and white blur. I then tried to Google "Mexican Tulip" I mostly got pictures of some kind of poppy, and none of the pictures was of a 6 petal flower, which is what the instructions said. So I have no idea what flower this actually is supposed to be or the correct name for the tulip variety.

After the petals I started on the pistil and stamens. I went outside and "deconstructed" one of my tulips for a closer look:
 I started with a small piece of yellow gumpaste and pinched it to make it a three-sided column and inserted in onto a wire with a little gum-glue on it

 then I pinched the tip to make this shape:
 For the stamens I rolled little pointed sausages of gumpaste, cut a little slit in the side, dipped the end of a 2 inch piece of thin floral wire in gum glue and inserted the wire and pinched it shut. The less you have to touch it , the better as if you have to pinch more than once the stamen will get all messed up and fall off- ask me how I know;) Six stamen per flower
 Next day was time to dust the flowers, for the white larger flower I started with a yellow petal dest on the bottom and center:
 Then a deep red: first heavily on the edges, and then pull the red inwards to blend
 After the petal I started on the stamen. First I started brushing the wire with green petal dust, but that was pretty putzy so I swtiched to mixing gel color with vodka and painting it on- much quicker
 Then dip the tips of the stamen in your gum glue, making sure you coat the whole thing or you will get bare areas_ wipe off extra glue

 Then dip in black petal dust and tap off extra
 I brushed the pistil with a little maroon petal dust to mach the real one
 For the pink petals I used a light green at the bases, then deep red, followed by a little maroon at the tips

 For the little petals I used green at the bases and a baby pink at the tips
 For the Mexican petals I used yellow at the bases and hot pink on top (I used my extra petals to experiment with the petal dusts)
 Tape the stamens to the pistil with half width floral tape. Floral tape must be stretched as you wrap or it isn't sticky- which years later I figured out was my problem with that first attempt at lily making- that fact was not mentioned in the first tutorial I found. Lesson learned: do your research:) Such a small detail caused me to give up on wired flowers for years- how silly.(Side note: If you haven't done gumpaste flowers before you will definitely want to look up others to supplement mine as I probably left loads of stuff out- and I would REALLY recommend Edna's videos once again. Without seeing her peony dvd I wouldn't have been able to do these either)

(to make half-width floral tape just run an exacto knife around the roll while pressing to cut many layers at once- and be careful!)

Tape three petals evenly around the pistil

And at this point I apparently forgot to keep taking pictures- forgive me. Finish by taping the last three petals overlapping the first three.

Then I got brave and decided to actually steam the flowers like you are supposed to (I didn't steam my peonies as I was nervous they'd spontaneously melt and fall apart). Just boil some water and hold the flowers in the steam, turning all around for a few seconds just until they look a little wet all over. This sets the dusts and adds more life-likeness


  1. AMAZING!!!! Your flowers are BEAUTIFUL! So jealous!

  2. Absolutely Stunning! They look so real, and what a great tutorial. Yours is the best one yet that I have seen for any flower. online or you tube.
    Thank you again for such a wonderful tutorial!

  3. Brilliant Tutorial - it is a credit to you.
    I had not made these for years, and was so inspired.
    Thank you, keep up the great work
    Dodi L

  4. Dear Julie,

    thank you for your tutorial! ♥
    I collect links to sugar flower tutorials on my German website and included a link to your wonderful tutorial too.

    Would that be all right for you? If not, please contact me via my website and I will remove the picture and the link immediately!

    Here you can have a look at my website:

    All the best

  5. Muchas gracias.....esta muy bien explicado.