Thursday 14 January 2016

Sugar flowers: how to make an Arum or Calla Lily

Lilies are probably my favourite flower but unfortunately they are one of the most toxic to cats – and I love my little kitty far more than I love lilies! So when I took an evening class course in sugar flowers recently I was really pleased when the tutor said we were going to make lilies – so I now have a bunch in my hallway that are not poisonous to cats!
Like most sugar flowers I am discovering, the technique is not rocket science, but you need to follow a very specific set of instructions to make a realistic looking flower – and have the right cutter. You could make a cardboard template but as you can actually buy arum lily cutters in various sizes it makes life a bit easier to do that.
You need to use flower paste – not sugar paste or modelling paste, as this is the only one you can roll out thin enough. I made my flowers white but if you want you could colour the sugar paste – I recommend the Sugarflair edible gel colours.
White is really the best colour though, with a yellow centre – I think called the pistil. So colour a small piece of sugarpaste yellow and roll it into a sausage shape.
Take a piece of florist wire – a medium thickness of around 26 works well. The lower the number gauge, the thinner and bendier the wire – so 18 would be too thin and wouldn’t support the petal and 30 would be too thick.
Bend the end using pliers into a little hook, apply some edible glue and insert into your sausage shape. This is your pistil.


The way we learned to make the centre of the flower look more realistic is a really cute little trick. Take some couscous or better still polenta, and mix in a little yellow dusting powder. Coat the outside of the pistil with edible glue and roll in the polenta so it sticks. Leave to dry.

Roll out a small ball of flower paste until it is very thin, and cut out a petal shape.


Using a ball tool on a foam pad, rub the edges of the petal – the ball end of the tool needs to be half on the edge of the petal, half off. This will make the petal curl up at the edges. Apply some edible glue to the bottom of the pistil and stick the petal around it, with the widest part of the petal at the bottom and the point at the top, wrapping the lower part of the petal around the pistil. Leave to dry.

Finally using a paintbrush and some green dusting powder lightly dust the bottom of the flower.

I wanted to have a go at making leaves; my set of lily cutters came with a leaf cutter as well. The easiest way to do this is to use a grooved cutting board – when you roll out the sugarpaste on top, a little bit goes into the groove, so when you turn it over, you have a raised ridge. Insert a piece of florist wire – in this case you probably do want the thinner 18 gauge – into the ridge. It’s quite tricky to do this without the wire poking out the leaf so it might take a few attempts to get the hang of it – I wouldn’t want to have to make a lot of these!

We only made one lily in that class but at the end of the course we made a whole bouquet using different flowers we had made over the previous three weeks; I did mainly lillies with some white roses as well as you can see here. I couldn’t find a vase that was the right size so this is actually an ice cream sundae dish, which I stuffed with green tissue paper! It now has pride of place in my hallway and I’m really pleased with it.

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