Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sweet Miniatures

Through the wonderful world of the Internet, I recently had the privilege of collaborating with the incredible Jocelyn Teo of AiClay Miniatures, who is based in Singapore. She is an artist who creates amazing miniature sculptures and jewelry out of polymer clay.

It all began with me swooning over her amazing talent on Flickr and leaving some comments about her gorgeous photos. She graciously commented back on some of my cake photos, and we bantered back and forth about our respective businesses. Jocelyn then asked if she could use one of my designs as inspiration for a cake in miniature, and I was both thrilled and very flattered! Several days later, she sent me some photos of her finished artwork...and I wanted to get it posted here as soon as possible!

Here is my original design...a small cake covered with chocolate fondant and decorated with grosgrain ribbons and a single white peony sugar flower:

And here is Jocelyn's version...a tiny cake in chocolate colored clay, decorated with a stunning peony:

And take a look at this second photo to see all of the details of her amazing talent. The ribbons are so tiny! This cake is only 1.7 cm in height, and 1.5 cm in diameter:

In addition to Jocelyn's blog and Flickr site, you can also find her beautiful miniatures in her store on Etsy!

Jocelyn, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your wonderful artwork with me! I'll be ready for my first miniature sculpting lesson as soon as I can get to Singapore!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Here is the final piece of the to make hydrangea leaves to go with your gorgeous hydrangea flowers! If you thought Part Two was a bit long, prepare yourself now for Part's a bit lengthy too...but I hope you find it helpful!

If you have followed along through the first two tutorials, thank you so much for your time! If not, and you want to know what I covered in Part One and Part Two, feel free to take a peek...then come back here for leaves!

This post will include steps for making, coloring and arranging the leaves, but please also refer back to Part Two for more in-depth information about petal dusts and some of my basic arranging tips.


Here are the tools I use for making hydrangea leaves:

*CelCakes grooved board
*Rolling pin
*Ball tool
*Hydrangea leaf cutters and veiner
*Foam pad
*26g cotton-covered green wire
*Wire cutters
*Corrugated foam for drying (I also use scrunched up pieces of foil)
*Sugar glue
*Gumpaste (The color I used was made with Spectrum/Ateco Gels in Leaf Green, Avocado and a bit of Warm Brown)

Step 1: Cut your 12" wires into thirds. No need to hook them. I like having a little extra length of wire so my leaves can peek out from under finished bouquets of flowers:

Step 2: Roll out paste thin over a groove on the board. I let the excess paste hang over the bottom edge and use it as a tab so I can easily pick up the rolled paste:

Step 3: Imprint with veiner, being careful to line up the bottom of the veiner with the bottom edge of the board (not the overhanging paste):

Step 4: Pick up imprinted paste, move it to the smooth corner of the board, line up the bottom of the cutter with the bottom of the veining, and cut the leaf:

If you want to make MULTIPLE LEAVES at the same time, roll out a larger piece of paste to cover more of the grooves in the CelCake board. If you are cutting many leaves, keep them under some plastic wrap or in a Zip-Loc bag so they don't dry out:

** Whether you are making one leaf at a time, or multiple leaves at a time, the remaining steps will be the same for both **

Example of cut leaf front-side:

Example of cut leaf back-side with ridge:

Step 5: Dip the tip of the wire into the sugar glue and wipe off any excess. Hold the bottom edge of the leaf between your thumb and first finger, with the wider end of the ridge facing up, and the ridge against your thumb. This set-up will help you feel the wire as it moves through the paste. Gently insert the wire into the center point of the ridge, and then slide it further into the ridge 1/3 to 1/2 of the length of the leaf. Be careful not to poke the wire out through the paste:

Gently pinch the paste at the base of the wire to secure:

The wired leaf:

Step 6: Place your leaf on the foam pad facing up, and with the tip of the leaf facing towards you. Thin edges with the ball tool, following the contours of the leaf shape. I find if I use the ball tool in one direction, from the bottom edge of the leaf towards the tip, I am less likely to tear the delicate edges and tiny point:

Step 7:
Place the leaf on corrugated foam (or scrunched up pieces of foil) to dry, which will allow it to take on a natural shape. Make a nice mix of both large and small sizes, and let them dry overnight:


Here are the tools I use for coloring hydrangea leaves:

*Petal dusts in Chartreuse, Moss, Lime and Plum
*Firm brushes and flat brushes
*CK Products Confectioner's Glaze and a small brush for application
*CK Products Confectioner's Glaze Thinner
*Disposable cup for mixing glaze and thinner
*Styrofoam or rack for drying

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT GLAZING: You can find several different glazing products online. They are considered food grade lacquers, and are used to extend the life of chocolate and sugar decorations and showpieces.

1. CK Products Confectioner's Glaze and Thinner (found here or here)

2. Confectionery Arts International Lacquer (found here) They now have lacquer in spray form...which sounds much faster to me...but I have not tried it yet!

3. If you don't want to glaze your leaves, you can steam them after dusting. This will give your leaves a soft sheen, but not the glossy finish of glazing.

Step 1: Prepare the colors of your petal dusts. For these leaves, I use three colors of green (Chartreuse, Moss and Lime), and Plum for the edges, but I don't mix them. I use them one at a time, and dust splotches of all colors on each leaf (kind of like camouflage). When I glaze the leaves, the colors blend a bit and make the leaf look a little more realistic. From left to right...Moss, Chartreuse, Lime and Plum:

Step 2: Using a medium-sized firm brush, dust large random patches of Chartreuse on the leaf:

Continue to dust the leaf with splotches of Lime and Moss to cover the leaf surface:

Step 3: Using a flat brush, dust parts of the edges of your leaves with Plum, being careful not to break the delicate edges:

Here is a group of dusted leaves:

I usually do not dust the back sides of my leaves unless they will be really visible. Most leaves have variations in coloring from top to you can decide what is best for your particular project.

Step 4: In a small disposable cup, mix a small amount of glaze and thinner to total about a tablespoon. A little goes a long way, so start with a small amount and add more if you need it. I use a ratio of 50/50...but I live in a pretty dry climate. You may have to adjust the formula where you live in order for the leaves to dry thoroughly. The glaze can be sticky and messy, so I use a disposable cup for easy clean-up! With a small brush, lightly apply the glaze to the TOP only of your leaves with a dabbing motion until they are covered with the glaze. LIGHTLY is the key word here...if your leaves are dripping then you are using way too much glaze. When glazing, do NOT use a painting motion as this will cause streaks in the coloring, rather than blending:

Insert the wires into Styrofoam or hang to dry overnight:

**Many leaves are only glossy on the top, but you can change how you glaze them according to the variety you are making and your preference!


There are many different ways to use leaves...and here are a few examples of how I use them most frequently...

All throughout a bouquet:

On one side of a single flower:

Or peeking out from underneath a bouquet:

Hydrangea leaves are usually visible from underneath beautiful bunches of their flowers, so here is how to arrange them that way:

Here are the tools I use when adding leaves to a hydrangea bouquet:

*Florist tape in moss green
*Completed hydrangea flowers
*Completed hydrangea leaves
*Wooden skewers
*Wire cutters
*Styrofoam (to hold bouquet stem while working on the arrangement)

Step 1: Gather your completed flowers into a bouquet, and tape together. I used about 25 hydrangea flowers for this one. To prepare it for using on a cake, you can tape your flower wires to a skewer:

Cut off any extra length of wire from the flowers:

Step 2: With the bouquet in the Styrofoam, lay the leaves around the base to visualize where you want them to be added. I tend to use leaves in ODD numbers, and put small groupings of them together instead of making them all perfectly spaced. And keep in mind they can all be moved around however you wish, even after they are taped:

Here's how I want it to look from the top:

Step 3: One at a time, tape the wires of the leaves to the main stem, varying how much leaf is visible from the top:

The taping is all completed:

And this bouquet is ready to be used on a cake:

That's all I have...for now! *smile*

I hope you have enjoyed this last installment! Thank you for your time and for reading the whole darn thing! If you have any questions, please let me know. If you have used this set of tutorials to create a hydrangea bouquet, I would really like to see it! Please send me a note and include some photos too - I'd love to hear from you! And if you'd like to receive Petalsweet updates and class information, please sign up for our Newsletter using the link below...

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Copyright © 2010 by Jacqueline Butler of Petalsweet Cakes. Content of this blog (including text, photographs and layout) is the property of Jacqueline Butler. Please feel free to use the ideas and concepts discussed on this blog, but please do not claim any of it as your own work. Thank you!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Color Inspiration

I was in a small book and stationery store in The Village a few weeks ago, looking for a birthday card. This particular store has a great selection of unique cards, and I always end up bringing extras home to use at a later date. This trip was no exception, and while I was looking through all of the displays, I happily came across this card:

I would like to say I was drawn to it because of its lovely sentiment (I am a sucker for anything even remotely romantic), but I actually picked it up because of the color palette. Green and pink is a favorite combination, and I loved the particular tones featured on the card. My next thought was how I might reproduce the colors in a cake design...and it didn't take long after I was home to make a quick sketch of my vision.

I didn't want to wait for someone to order a cake with these colors, so I quickly put together a display cake to see it all together. I made the flower topper, and added some grosgrain ribbon and a few extra hydrangeas to complete the look:

Here is the bouquet topper made with a peony, hydrangea, filler flowers and leaves:

The peony was an extra that I had in my flower stash, and it was originally white. I dusted the base of the petals with a pale yellow, then colored them all over with pale tones of soft pink and tangerine. Once the petals were done, I added a touch of deep pink to all of the petal edges to give the flower some depth:

Thank you for stopping by!

Copyright © 2010 by Jacqueline Butler of Petalsweet Cakes. Content of this blog (including text, photographs and layout) is the property of Jacqueline Butler. Please feel free to use the ideas and concepts discussed on this blog, but please do not claim any of it as your own work. Thank you!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back to Class with Ron Ben-Israel

In early March this year, I will have the wonderful opportunity to return to Minette Rushing's Custom Cakes in Savannah, Georgia! I am happily taking two classes with the incredibly talented Ron Ben-Israel! The first class will be a Masters sugarpaste flower class, where we will be studying Southern Flowers, and making camellias, dogwood, jasmine and magnolias. I have made only several of these flowers before, but it was a long time ago, so I am really looking forward to Ron's presentation and the hands-on practice. Second, I will attend a class entitled Bring on the Bling! where we will mix and make custom silicone molds! You know how gorgeous Ron's cakes are...and he uses a lot of custom molds for lace, architectural details and beautiful jewelry pieces. I haven't used a lot of these elements on my cakes before, but I can't wait to try them!

Last year, Ron's class was a lot of fun and a great learning opportunity, I met some wonderful and very talented cake designers and sugar artists, and Minette was the most gracious host ever. In was a really fabulous three days!

I just heard from Minette, and she told me there are several spots left in Ron's Bring on the Bling! class on March 6th, 7th and 8th!! If you are interested, contact Minette right away to get signed up! There are more details about Ron's class, as well as all of the wonderful classes Minette offers, at her Sugar Seminars site.

Some of Ron's flowers from the class last year:

A photo with Ron at the end of class:

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Copyright © 2010 by Jacqueline Butler of Petalsweet Cakes. Content of this blog (including text, photographs and layout) is the property of Jacqueline Butler. Please feel free to use the ideas and concepts discussed on this blog, but please do not claim any of it as your own work. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Get comfortable...this post is a bit of a beast! It's long and thank you ahead of time for sticking around to the end!

Alright...with all of your hydrangea flowers made and dried, it's time for Part Two of the tutorial, including coloring and arranging! Just so you know, I do all of my coloring by hand with petal dusts and brushes. I know a lot of fabulous sugar artists who use an airbrush effectively and end up with beautiful results. I don't have enough experience with an airbrush (yet!) to create the effect I like on my flowers, so this tutorial will only cover using dusts.

SOME NOTES ABOUT PETAL DUSTS: There are many different brands of dusts on the market, and I haven't used all of them, so I will only be featuring the brands I have used with success here. I rarely use a color straight out of the jar, except for very small accents on particular flowers...I frequently blend them, or make them lighter or darker before using. Also, I always have greens and yellows on hand, as they both bring life and brightness to any flower. I suggest playing around with color variations as much as you can really make a big difference in your final product!

Below are the brands of petal dusts I have used. I buy the Linnea's petal dust at my local cake decorating store, and the rest I have found online. If anyone has used additional brands they really like, I'd love to hear from you!

*Sunflower Sugar Art
*CK Products
*Linnea's Inc.
*Squires Kitchen
*Crystal Colors

SOME NOTES ABOUT THE COLORING PROCESS: A tip that has helped make coloring easier for me is using plastic paint palettes (seen in the first photo of the post), or plastic lids from containers, for mixing and saving colors of petal dusts. I have separate palettes for different color families (one for greens, one for pinks, one for purples, etc.) so that I don't accidentally cross colors AND so I can save custom colors that I really like. I simply cover the palette or lid with foil, label it, and save it for the next batch of flowers. I can always add a different hue or lighten/darken the colors before I use them again, so I know the dusts won't be wasted. As an example, I make so many green hydrangea that I have a palette just for those's a great time-saver. Brushes are the same way...I have different jars for my color families so that I don't accidentally brush a dark mossy green on my pink peony. Finally, I usually approach my dusting as an assembly line...dust all my centers first, move on to do all the base color, add the highlights, then apply pearl dust to all the flowers as the last step.

Here are the tools I use when coloring and arranging my hydrangea:

*Dry hydrangea flowers
*Petal dusts
*Pearl dust
*Brushes (two types: soft brushes in small and medium sizes...and firm/flat brushes in small sizes)
*Palette, plastic lid or paper towel for mixing colors
*Moss green florist tape
*Toothpicks or wooden skewers
*Plastic floral tubes/water picks


Step 1: Prepare your colors. For this tutorial, I used the following colors:

*Crystal Colors in "Kiwi" (added white and pale yellow for BASE color)
*Crystal Colors in "Lime" (used as is for edges only - see below)
*Crystal Colors in "Holly: (used as is for edges only - see below)
*Crystal Colors in "Ginkgo" (used as is for edges only - see below)
*Crystal Colors in "Fuchsia Carmine" (used as is for edges only - see below)
*Sunflower Sugar Art Pearl Dust in "Super Pearl"

As well as:

*Linnea's "Daffodil" (added white to make a soft lemon yellow for the centers)
*Sunflower Sugar Art in "White" (to lighten the other colors as needed)

Step 2: With your colors mixed, use a small, soft brush to dab the hydrangea center with pale yellow. Don't cover up those gorgeous little white centers you made...just use a touch of the yellow to add some brightness:

Step 3: With one of your flat brushes, dust the front of each flower with your base green color, starting at the edge of the petals and working towards the center. I do not color all the way to the center...I think leaving a little ring of the pale green gumpaste visible is really pretty:

Step 4: With your same base green color, turn the flower over and dust the back of the petals, again working from the edges towards the wire. Don't worry about completely covering these petals unless they will be seen. I usually dust about half way down the petals:

Step 5: here is one of my BEST tips for hydrangea! Once all of your flowers are dusted with your base color, divide them into four equal groups. Pick three new colors of green dust, and a pink dust as well. Pick the first group, and using a flat brush, dust only the edges of the petals of each flower with your first new green color. Try to vary the number of petals you dust so they are not all exactly the same. Finish the first group, then change green colors and start with the second group. Change green colors again and continue with the third group, and then use your pink dust on the fourth group. You are using only ONE new color on each group of flowers, not all four (that would take forever)! AND, you are only dusting the edges of the flowers, not the petals. In this photo, one flower has edges with a lime green, one has edges with a grass green, and one has edges with pink:

And here is a larger group...nice variation in color, and all of the flowers look a little bit different:

The little extra touch of the different colors will really make the final bouquet look beautiful! This technique can also be re-created when you make the other colors of hydrangea...just pick a variety of colors that are in the same family of your base color and use them on the edges of groups of your flowers. I use a touch of green dust when making all other colors of this flower (white, pink, purple, blue) so that some of the petals still look like they are young and in bloom.

Step 6: Once all of your flowers are dusted with color, use a medium-sized soft brush to dust them lightly with pearl dust, front and back. This will help soften any harsh brush lines, blend the variations in color, reduce the powdery look after dusting, and give the flowers a very delicate and natural appearance:

NOTE: Please do not be heavy-handed with the pearl dust...if your flowers look frosty or shiny, then you have used too much. We're going for a soft glow! Steaming is another option can be a great way to set and deepen your colors. I prefer the look of the light pearl effect most of the time, but will occasionally use the steaming process. If you want to know more about steaming your flowers, OR you use steaming frequently and love it, please contact me! I'm happy to share my experience, and I'd love to learn more!


Step 1: Gather a small group of your completed flowers. I always use mine in odd numbers. Due to the different shapes and sizes of your flowers, move them around a bit until they fit together nicely like puzzle pieces. Because they are all individually wired, you can also gently twist and turn the actual flowers as needed.

Also, group your pink-edged flowers together - it will look like a section of your bouquet is in the middle of changing colors!! Your other green-edged flowers should be mixed randomly for the best overall effect:

Step 2: Begin taping the bottom third of the wires together with your green florist tape. Leaving the top two-thirds of the wires loose allows you to move the individual flowers around easily in a larger bouquet and fill any small openings or holes:

Step 3: Once you have the taping started, you can add a toothpick or skewer (if you are using the flowers on a cake), and finish taping by covering the ends of the wires:

Step 4: To arrange hydrangea around another flower, make several small groupings as outlined above, but omit the toothpick until you have all of the hydrangea wires attached to the central wire of your main flower. Once you have your bouquet made, you can tape on a toothpick or skewer as needed:

Here is the bouquet from the top...and with the flowers being on individual wires, I was able to turn and bend some of them in different directions to fill the spaces around the gardenia:

If you are making a large bouquet, another great option is to arrange and tape your flowers, and then insert the thick stem of taped wires into a plastic floral tube. This tube can be inserted into your cake:

If the bouquet stem is smaller than the floral tube and rattles around in it, you can put some fondant down into the tube and then press the stem into the surrounds the stem and keeps it firmly in place.

We're done! For those of you who made it here to the end...thank you for your time!! Please enjoy, and be sure to let me know if you have any questions! Oh...and is anyone interested in hydrangea leaves?

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Copyright © 2010 by Jacqueline Butler of Petalsweet Cakes. Content of this blog (including text, photographs and layout) is the property of Jacqueline Butler. Please feel free to use the ideas and concepts discussed on this blog, but please do not claim any of it as your own work. Thank you!