Today was the last day of the Squires Kitchen 5 Day School with Guest Tutors and the class was Sugar Flowers with Alan Dunn. I have one of Alan Dunn’s books on making sugar flowers, and in fact use his techniques to create many of my sugar flowers, so I was looking forward to picking up some hints and tips you don’t get in his books. We were all smarting a little after the blitz attack that was the modelling course, so I was a little apprehensive today, but it turned out to be a refreshing, fantastic class with an excellent, world class tutor.
For the sugar flower class we were going to be making a peony. Alan firstly demonstrated to us how to create the peony petals, then it was our turn. We started off by creating some formers out of paper towels. We then coloured some white sugar flower paste pale pink with a tiny bit of a very strong plum coloured craft dusting colour, then kneaded it to make sure it was nice and pliable. Alan had shown us his technique for rolling out the paste to achieve a tapered ridge in the middle. First you roll a bit of paste into a cone, then flatten it slightly before rolling out the top part quite flat. Then you roll at an angle on either side of the middle. It’s a great technique I will definitely use again. Then, using a peony petal cutter, we cut out petal shapes with the ridge in the middle, 10 large and 5 medium. Here’s one of the petals I cut out:
A hooked 26 gauge white wire with a little bit of sugar glue was then inserted into the ridge and the end pinched to secure it to the wire. Using a silk veining tool, we veined the petal on both sides, then frilled the edges. The bottom edges near the wire were softened with a ball tool. The petals were then draped over the formers. Here are some of my completed petals:
Next up we were shown how to dust both sides of the petals using the plum coloured dusting powder and a wide flat brush. The aim was to dust quite a strong colour at the base then lighten it as you moved towards the middle. Here are my petals after dusting:
After lunch we moved on to making the peony centres. Using green cold porcelain, we inserted small balls onto 26 gauge white wire and rolled them into cones, then pinched a ridge on one side and curled the top. These were then taped together with pale green florist tape:
We bunched together some double tipped white stamens and glued the bunches together in the middle using non toxic craft glue. These were cut in half then glued to the bottom of the cold porcelain centres. We dusted the bottom of the stamens the same plum colour like so:
And then dusted the tips with sunflower yellow and the tops of the green cold porcelain with lime green. Then it was time to tape together the petals. The medium sized petals were placed around the centre first and taped together with green florist tape. The larger petals were placed around these, taping a few at a time. Here is Alan showing us how to tape the petals to the centre:
The end result was quite stunning if I do say so myself! Here is my completed peony:
Alan also showed us how to cut out leaves, vein them, and stick them together with florist tape. He also showed us how to dust them using aubergine on the tips, overdusting with forest green, then overdusting again with lime green. It was just about time to go after that, and as I already have used Alan’s book to create leaves using these techniques, I decided against staying late to create them in class.
I really cannot praise Alan highly enough. Not only is he a great teacher but he is such a lovely person too! He correctly gauged the pace of the class and offered as little or as much help as each individual needed. He explained everything really well and had lots of tips and tricks for us. It was a relaxed and fun atmosphere. And he has such an amazing talent! It was a great way to end a fabulous (and exhausting) week at Squires Kitchen.