Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Advanced Gum Paste Flowers – Class #2

One of the things about making these ornate gum paste flowers is that you have to make them piece at a time and dry them thoroughly before moving to the next step.  By “dry them thoroughly” I mean 24-28 hours.  The classes are jam packed and fun, but maybe the blog posts aren’t as interesting as when I was turning out multiple designs every class.

So this class is a lot of prep work again, but I promise you’re going to see some incredible flowers after the third class.  Or at least I hope you will - it kind of depends on my skill level.  And of course there’s a lovely flower we started and finished in class in one evening.

Here is lesson plan for this course.  The red, bold text is what we covered in the class:
  • Blossoms
  • Gerber Daisies
  • Sweet Peas
  • Ivy Leaves
  • Lily Leaves
  • Briar Rose
  • Stargazer Lily
  • Stephanotis
  • Assemble Blossoms, Leaves and Bouquets
  • Using Flower Spikes
If you’re paying attention to the syllabus, you’ll notice I kind of skipped over the Sweet Peas.  We didn’t actually, but we only formed the Sweet Pea base.  We’ll be finishing them in class #3, but tonight we started out making several leaves.

First was the Ivy Leaf.  If you think it is as easy as cutting out a leaf shape and then drawing a pattern on it, you’re SO wrong.  You have to roll out the gum paste on a grooved board.  This creates a ridge on the back of your leaf.  Since these leaves are grouped together, you have to attach a piece of florist wire to the back using the ridge to keep it in place.  Easy, right?

Yeah, not at all.

Once you get the wire attached, you have to press the leaf impression to get the veins.  The impression mat was not cooperating for me and I had to try a lot of different positions to get the imprint visible.  Pressing around the wire is difficult because you’re not dealing with thick gum paste.  It has been rolled thin, so pressing too close to the wire exposes it.

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Ivy Leaf
Did I mention that the leaf is about an inch or so in size and the wire goes all the way up the center?  This process may sound easy, but it certainly is not.  It took me about 15 minutes to produce a single leaf which then had to dry at least slightly so I could get it home in a single piece.

I suddenly had a great idea for a cake – it has a Chicago Cubs logo on the top with ivy decorating the sides.  Then I snap out of it knowing that to make the leaves alone would probably be hours’ worth of work.

Maybe when they win a World Series… so, you know, NEVER.

We then moved on to Lily Leaves for our Stargazer Lily that will be assembled next week.  They are assembled in almost the same manner as the ivy, just using a different size cutout and impression mat.

An impression mat that disagreed with me more than the ivy impression.

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Lily Leaf
We had to create three of them.  I tried to mold them over a curve so that they were all unique and didn’t lay the same way.  I actually enjoyed making these more than the ivy, but I think it was because I had some practice rolling on the groove, attaching the wire and using the impression mat.

We took a little break from making pieces/parts of flowers to making an entire flower, the Briar Rose.  This is an incredibly delicate flower that required patience.  Not on making the leaves or assembly… no I’m talking about putting the stamens into the gum paste.  You’re going to put about 14-15 little stamens, evenly spaced, into a disk of gum paste that is smaller than a dime.  While I was doing this, I figured something out…

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Briar Rose
This tedious process puts me into a zen-like trance that really calms me down.  I’m forced to go slow (and that is not something I do well) and breathe.

It’s like 2 hours of therapy for me.

Anyway, my briar rose had a rough ride on the trip home and I had to fix the delicate little petals.  My florist wire didn’t make it, but at least it didn’t affect the way the flower looked.

We finished up the class making the petals for the Stargazer Lily.  It used the same technique as the Lily Leaves, but instead of simply thinning out the edges, you ruffle them.

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Large Stargazer Lily Leaves

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Small Stargazer Lily Leaves
The next class really kicks us into high gear.  We’re going to make our Stephanotis, finish our Sweet Pea and put some finishing touches on some of the flowers we’ve already made.  It should be exciting and a lot of work.

No matter… I love it anyway!  Until next time… happy decorating!

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