Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I get a lot of questions about the filler flowers I use in my gumpaste floral bouquets. I frequently use hydrangea and/or small pulled blossoms because they are quick and easy to make, and go well with many of the color schemes for my cake designs. They are also easy to group into any size bouquet to fill spaces between larger flowers, and I think they help to make the final bouquets look full and lush.

I wanted to share my steps for making both of these filler flowers...starting with the hydrangea. I've created this tutorial with a series of photos, but PLEASE let me know if they don't convey the information clearly enough. I know video is the direction to go with future tutorials, but until I have all of the right equipment, I'm sorry the photos will have to do! I have also broken it down into quite a few steps...I don't know who is reading this blog, and I just want to make sure all of the little things are covered. When I started making gumpaste flowers, I know the littlest tips were always so helpful.

A NOTE ABOUT WIRE: For both the hydrangea and pulled blossoms, I use green cotton-covered wires. They are usually packaged in 12" lengths, and come in many gauges...the higher the gauge number, the finer the wire:

You can also use white cotton-covered wire, but you will eventually need to wrap each wire with green floral tape to make it look like a stem, a timely step I like to skip if possible. I purchase my wire from a local cake decorating store, and online from the talented Scott Clark Woolley, who offers wonderful supplies on his site Cakes by Design. Of course, you can also make either of these flowers without wire, and attach them directly to your cake. If so, you may want to forgo the gumpaste hydrangea centers and just pipe small centers with royal icing.


For the hydrangea CENTERS, here are the tools I use:

* 26g wire
* Tweezers
* Needle tool (or you can use a toothpick or pin)
* Wire cutters
* Gumpaste (white)

Step 1: Cut your wires into fourths with the wire cutters. Don't worry about making them exact...I like my wire lengths to vary a bit as they help to give the final bouquet a more life-like appearance. Too exact, and you get a stiff and unnatural look:

Step 2: Using your tweezers, bend the very top of your wires, making as small a loop as possible:

I like to make the centers as small as I can, and having made so many hydrangea, I don't use a size guide. But, I thought I would add some photos with the guide for those of you who do like to use it. Again, try to vary the size of your centers a tiny bit so they do not all look exactly the same. There are two sizes of hydrangea cutters, and I like to have a mix of centers for both. The gumpaste balls I use sit comfortably in #2 and #3 of Nicholas Lodge's size guide, but keep in mind this amount of gumpaste will be more than the final size of the center. Some of the gumpaste will be pinched off once the center is formed around the wire loop:

Step 3: Working with one ball at a time, insert the wire loop into the center of the ball and gently shape the gumpaste down around it to cover the loop completely. Don't pull the gumpaste tight around the loop, you want to have a bit of padding on top to score with lines. The excess gumpaste will be pulled down below the loop and be pinched off to secure the paste to the wire:

To pinch off the excess paste, twist the wire between your thumb and first finger, right below the base of the loop. Your goal is to end up with a neat and clean little "bud" on the end of your wire:

Step 4: Using your needle tool (or toothpick or pin), mark four lines starting from the center of the ball, and outwards down the sides. You are now making your bud look like a "hot cross bun"! I prefer to make four lines starting from the center (versus two across the top like an "X") because you end up with a nicely shaped center instead of a flattened ball. Just turn your center a quick quarter turn between each line marking:

The completed center:

And a photo of several centers together with a glass-headed pin for size reference:

Once you have all of your centers made, let them dry overnight.

For the hydrangea PETALS, here are the tools I use:

* Rolling/cutting board
* Rolling pin (or pasta machine if making large quantities)
* Foam pad
* Ball tool
* Hydrangea cutters/veiners
* Gumpaste (in color of choice)
* Drying rack (there are a lot of different drying forms you can purchase online, but I also use clothes hangers for drying flowers upside down, and egg cartons to dry them face up)
* Sugar glue and small brush for application
* Dry hydrangea centers

A NOTE ABOUT GUMPASTE COLOR: I use a very pale base color for my hydrangea unless the finished flowers are going to be white. I think it gives the flowers a nice glow of color underneath the final addition of dusting colors. For the green hydrangea in this tutorial, I colored my gumpaste with a mix of AmeriColor gels in Avocado and Lemon Yellow.

Step 1: Roll out paste thin and press veiner into it, being careful to not press down too hard or veiner may cut through paste:

Step 2: Cut out flowers using cutters, making sure to align shorter and longer petals on the cutter, with the shorter and longer veins from the veiner:

Step 3: Using your ball tool, thin edges of the cut out flowers, making sure to follow the contours of the petals. With these flowers, I always work from the middle of the flower outward to the tips, along both sides of the individual petals. Additionally, you can "cup" the individual petals by making tiny circles with the ball tool in the middle of each petal. I like to make a mixture of both for my bouquets so the hydrangea look more varied:

Thin edges with ball tool:

Examples of thinned edges only (in back) versus thinned edges and cupped with ball tool (in front):

Step 4: Lightly dab the back of the center with sugar glue, and thread the wire down through the top of the flower until the center meets the flower. Turn the flower upside down and pinch/press lightly to adhere the flower to the center:

Hang upside down to dry, or poke holes in the bottom of an egg carton and rest the flowers in the egg cups to dry facing up (rest the carton on top of some coffee mugs to allow space below for the wires to hang below). A mix of these drying methods will give you a great blend of open and closed flowers for your final bouquet.

Here are some blue hydrangea hanging to dry:

And a mix of blue, green and white hydrangea drying in an egg carton:

And just a couple of suggestions:

1. When you sit down to make these, make A LOT of them!! I use hydrangeas in many of my flower arrangements...I love the way they look and how easily they compliment other colors. And they are a great way to fill space around large, focal flowers.

2. I make hydrangea in variations of pink, green, white, blue and purple. I recommend making a stash of your flowers in the pale version of the final color, then saving them and coloring them as needed, rather than coloring them all at the same time. I don't always need a deep, dark purple I adjust my dusting colors accordingly as I am planning the final bouquet of flowers.

Coming up...Part Two...Coloring and Arranging!

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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!


Rafael Logrono said...

Thanks a million for this!! I want to start doing more gumpaste work and this is a great way to start. I have Scott's supplies; what type of gumpaste (sugar paste, if Ron is reading this!) do you use??

-Rafael :)

cdgleason said...

wonderful, Jacqueline!

Michael McCafferty said...

YES! This a great bit of work you have put together. Such details and photos to back it up make this a truly professional product. Book material. You are the guru (guress?) of cake!

Unknown said...

This is such a wonderful tutorial. Before reading your tutorial, I made some hydrangeas (they are one of my fave flowers) although not perfect as your (love your flowers), but it was a good exercise. That was a very good point about starting with a pale color then build it up when applying the petal dust. Thanks for posting. Hope you will do a peony tutorial too. I will make some too (another of my fave flowers.)

Happy New Year.

Jeannie (Baking Jeannie)

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi and thanks everyone for your lovely comments!

Rafael - I use Nicholas Lodge's recipe which you can find on his website.

Jeannie - Happy New Year to you too and thanks for visiting!

SweetThingsTO said...

What a wonderful tutorial. You are generous to share with us your time, talent and tips.

Unknown said...

Jacqueline, great step by step! I was interested to see if we made them the same way and, for the most part we do. I like your way of imprinting the veining before cutting them out. My way of cutting them out then veining works but I like your way better, it will make the process faster! I am looking forward to your dusting demo! Great job.
(if the comment comes from Abigail, its because my daughter was on facebook last!)

Brandy L said...

Thank you so much for the Tutorial! I read it on my blackberry and you made it seem so easy to follow along with all the pictures and wording.

Tracy Auseklis said...

Brilliant! It really is interesting to see how other make the flowers. I do it a bit differently too. I am going to try your method next time too! Awesome, thanks!

Keith Kirby said...

Outstanding tutorial! In reading it, I'm almost convinced that I could actually make hydrangeas... Where can I find creative talent?

I look forward to Part II!

BellaLovesPink said...

This is GREAT! Can't wait to see more!

faithy said...

Wow! Great tutorial!! Thanks for sharing!
BTW, I've nominated your blog for Happy 101 Award..check it out at

Dharm said...

Wow!! You make your own sugarpaste flowers!! Simply amazing. I would never have the patience (nor the skill) to do these... I am so amazed!

nicky said...

ok...1 dumb question, are these flowers edible? how does it taste like?

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Nicky!
Technically, the flowers are edible as long as non-toxic dusts have been used (which most of them are), and of course you can't eat the wires. The flowers are brittle and break easily, and they taste like a lightly sweetened sugar wafer. Edible, but not really palatable. Most people don't eat them, but save them as keepsakes. Jacqueline

veena said...

such a wonderful tutorial.thanks for sharing it. will try to make some and mail the pic. thanks again

Miniature Patisserie Chef said...

Thank you for dropping by my blog! I love reading yours, and there are just so many interesting entries that I'll be slowly enjoy! Love reading how you make those sugar paste flowers for cake decorating. It sounds a little like what I do - in miniature scale. :)

Pei Li

Shirley said...

Beautiful Tutorials! Thank you for unselfishly sharing your perfect techniques! In Sept I will be making my Son's wedding cake and I'm currently devouring anything I can find on gumpaste flowers as I haven't worked with this medium (polymer clay, a lot!). Your tutes are by far the most beautiful, informative and wonderfully written and photographed! Thank You

Unknown said...


Just wanted to let you know something...
I loveeeee this tutorial... and don't ever apologize for making it a pic tutorial instead of a video tutorial, I personally prefer pic tutorials!
Also... are you planning on doing a tutorial on the peonies?
Your work is amazing!

Wonni said...

wow, thank you so much!!!! Its wonderful!

Author said...

hello Jacqueline! this tutorial is really great and thanks a bunch for sharing.

may i please know which brand of cutter and veiner you are using? i have Petal Craft's hydrangea cutter and veiner set but the cutter was made of some plastic material so the cut is not clean. i really love your hydrangea cutter and veiner. can you please share?

thank you in advance jacqueline and keep up the good work =)


Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Adrianne!
Thank you for your lovely comment! The hydrangea cutters and veiners I use are made by Sunflower Sugar Art. They have a site online - all of their cutters have nice, sharp cutting edges. I also buy cutters from Scott Woolley - he has a good selection of supplies and tools. Jacqueline

Author said...

dear Jacqueline,

thank you for your info..i will buy them for now, i have to make do with the Petal Craft cutter and veiner i have =)

btw, ystdy i have made some hydrangeas and i'm planning to arrange them with magnolias i learn to make from a book. however, the petals kept breaking when i tried assembling them in a bouquet and there were many 'holes' in between the hydrangeas because i daren't squeeze them too near to each other fearing that the petals make break again..not sure if it will look good but as soon as it's done, i will share with you my outcome. it's for a wedding cake this saturday..i'm very excited!

p/s: gosh! now i really love hydrangeas, all because of you! =)

thank you so much again Jacqueline!


Alpha Baker Joan said...

lovely work! joan

Tanya Hockensmith said...

Jacqueline,thank you for the wonderful tutorial. Thank you for taking the time to go step by step through your process. I love all of the little tips you gave. I especially love the separate paint palettes. I have one I use for dusting and always clean it out for a new set of colors. You even go so far as suggesting ways to color with varying colors from the same family. I have read the 1st two parts so far and can't wait to see the leaves. Thank you again!

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for your wondefull tutorials. I have just made a wedding cake for my brother who wanted purple and pink hydrangeas on top. I couldn't have done it without your blog as a guide. The cake turned out extremely well and I had so many great remarks about the flowers.

Sarah (New Zealand)

Linda said...

I wanted to thank you for the wonderful tutorial. I used it to make a hydrangea for a competition cake I did recently. Not only did I win 1st place in my division/category, I won Best in Division and got a special award from the judges for that flower. It was my first attempt at hydrangeas! If you'd like, you can see a picture here Thank you again!


Jacqueline Butler said...

Thank you so much Linda! I'm so glad you enjoyed the tutorial...and congratulations to you for your win in the cake competition! Your cake turned out beautiful! Wow! Jacqueline

Jacqueline Butler said...

Thank you so much Linda! I'm so glad you enjoyed the tutorial...and congratulations to you for your win in the cake competition! Your cake turned out beautiful! Wow! Jacqueline

Anonymous said...

hi jacqueline,

thank you again for the wonderful tutorial.i've combined it with gumpaste maagnolias on a wedding cake for my's my first attempt with hydrangeas and i think they looked ok, perhaps i should brush up on the dusting technique and keep practicing =) if you'd like, you can see the results here on my cake :!/photo.php?fbid=398364594396&set=a.219797889396.130455.100920244396&pid=4294177&id=100920244396

thank you again dear jacqueline!


medhadevdas said...

thanks for wonderful tutorial .

Kate said...

Hi Jacqueline,

Thanks so much for sharing. I couldn't see you when you were in Sydney so this tutorial is just wonderful. I'm looking forward to receiving my cutters and veiners from Scott Clark Woolley and actually giving this all a go! Yay. A little off this post, but may I ask how you create such BIG peonies?
Thanks again and your work is truly a thing of beauty.

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Kate,
Thank you very much - I'm glad you have enjoyed the tutorial...would love to see your finished hydrangea when you get a chance to use your new cutters/veiners! My peonies have quite a few petals..some of the larger ones have 19! And they are made with a set of cutters I designed so you can make a large or small flower. I like the over-sized peonies because they are so dramatic! I hope to have my peony cutter set for sale soon! Very best to you! Jacqueline x

Natalie said...

Hi Jacqueline,

Fab great step by step. can't wait for your peony cutter also would love one for the renuculas you did. Can the wires be put straight into the cake?? I always thought they couldn't.
Thanks Natalie

Kate said...

Hi again,
Thanks for such a quick reply. I'll get a picture posted when I can. I'm battling a 3 month bubba for time though so it will take me a while! I quite agree, the massive peonies are a real feature. I want to get married all over again so I can have another wedding cake. And another dress. And another party. And a honeymoon. I keep telling my husband this...

I really, really love your site - it's so inspirational. And a big YAY for releasing a cutter set!

Jacqueline Butler said...

Natalie - the ranunculus is just made with rose petal cutters in graduated special cutters. As for wires, there is no set answer...some people use the wires, and some don't. Other options are to make flowers on wooden skewers or tape groups of flowers together and insert the wires into a flower pik before inserting into the cake. Jacqueline

Jacqueline Butler said...

Thanks Kate - I really appreciate you taking the time to visit and read along...I hope you continue to enjoy it! Will look forward to your photos! Jacqueline

Aoibheann said...

Hi Jacqueline, I love your tutorial on hydrangeas, they are such a beautiful flower, you make it look so easy! I'm just wondering how you get the veining on your ranunculas? I love to try and make them...or go to your classes but I'm in Ireland...a bit far to travel I think! Is it a special veiner or do you run a cocktail stick over each petal? Any help would be much appreciated!

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Aoibheann! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I do use a veiner for my ranunculus - it is actually a silcone veiner set by First Impressions that is made for the Cattleya Orchid. It has three different veiners and I use the smallest one for my ranunculus flowers. I use the large one for my peonies, and then the whole set for orchids. It's a bit expensive, but I figure using it for several different flowers makes it a better investment. Let me know if you have any additional questions! Jacqueline

valerie said...

I am so glad I found this tutorial. I have a wedding cake coming up who requested gumpaste hydrangeas. You have saved me. I have been stressing over doing these, and now think I can do it!! I would love to see more flower tutorials!!


Dependent said...

Beautiful!!! Just as all your work. I am quite taken with all your flowers. Okay, now, will you tell me what gumpaste that you use? There are lots out there, and I would rather practice with whatever brand you use. Thank you!

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Fannie,
Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I make my own paste and mostly use the recipe by Nicholas Lodge. You can find it on his website! It's very easy to make and has a smooth consistency. Very best,

Anonymous said...

Hi Jaqueline,

I just wanna know where can I get the cutter and the veiner that we used during our class in sydney. answers really appreciated cheers

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi! Which class and which cutters from Sydney? Thank you! Jacqueline

Wanessa said...

Hello there! I came across your wonderful blog via a google search. A friend of mine was looking for a tutorial or instructions on gumpaste hydrangea and I just want to tell you that this is an amazing tutorial!! I have referred her to your page and hope she uses it...I know I intend to :-) Thanks so much!!

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Wanessa - thanks for your lovely comment and for stopping by to say hello! Tell your friend good luck on the hydrangea...hopefully the tutorial will work out well for their project! Best, Jacqueline

Anonymous said...

Hi Jacqueline,

I am having a hard time finding the same cutter and veiner of hydrangea + the groove board here in new zealand. what's the best site to find them? have u thought about coming over to teach?


Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Tina,
I have links to Scott Woolley's site in the post...he is a great source for the cutters and veiners. The grooved board is by CelCakes and can be found online at Global Sugar Art and Jacqueline

Tudor Elena Cristina.... said...

Thank you so much!!!!Have a beautiful day!!

Amanda Bass said...

Awesome tutorial!! Thanks for sharing! :-)

I have one issue so far. when I'm making the little blossoms for the center, it seems that they start to dry and get crumbly on me before I can put the "hot cross buns" in the center. :-( Any suggestions on how to fix this? Maybe a tiny bit of shortening on my fingers will help? Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions!


Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Amanda...yes it sounds like your paste is very dry if it is crusting over so quickly. Knead a bit of shortening into a small ball of paste and then pull your small pieces for the centers from it before you attach them to the wire. Working more quickly will also help, which will be easier the more you practice. I don't know what type of paste you are using, but most commercial pastes (like Satin Ice) have a longer working time than scratch pastes. I use a scratch paste recipe by Nicholas Lodge (you can find it under recipes on Global Sugar Art), but I have used it for many years and am used to the quick drying time. Jacqueline

Amanda Bass said...

Thank you Jacqueline! I actually made the Nicolas Lodge that must be why if was crusting up on me already. I have some Wilton gumpaste that I will use to practice with. And I'll also use a bit of shortening when I go back to using my good gumpaste for the hydrangeas for the cake. Thanks so much! Your work is amazing by the way! :-)

SweetColours said...

Jacqueline, thank you very much for this wonderful tutorial. Please log in to my blog, I am self taught and I made a cake inspired by your work. I would like to be closer to learn from you, but I live in Spain, Europe, and is complicated.
The direction of my cake with flowers on the blog is this:

Thanks. said...

This is brilliant thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

Hi Jacqueline,

Your flowers are a work of art. Absolutely amazeballs!!!!

Do you use a special tool in order to get the rings on your Ranunculus buds?

I have also been looking whether you have published any books on your art and have found none! Are you planning on publishing any? Also,are you planning on posting anymore tutorials on Craftsy?

Thanking you in advance and thank you for bringing such wonderful talent and inspiration to the cake decorating profession!

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Clare! Thanks so much for your lovely message - it's the first time anyone has ever used the term "amazeballs" to describe my work - you made my day!

I have not published any books on my flowers, but do hope to do so in the future. And I definitely plan to have more online videos as well - will keep you posted!

Thanks so much!

Anastasia Duchesne said...

They are great!!wondering whether you have an online tutorial on open peony? I'm in Perth,Australia. Will you be coming here to teach sugar flowers?

Anastasia Duchesne said...

Oh btw, if you plan to have some classes in Perth,Aussie,I'm interested to know when. ;) thx

Jacqueline Butler said...

Hi Anastasia...thanks for your lovely comments. I hope to get to Perth in 2013 for classes...I'm working on dates and classes now and will be posting in the near future. And I plan on having more online classes too...the peony is a favorite! Jacqueline

Chennai said...

Thanku very much for sharing this. Definetly It is good surprise for all.

Send flowers to Faridabad said...

Really great nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!

Anonymous said...

Your work is amazing and these are beautiful. I am making flowers for my Mums 80th birthday cake and am going to use your tutorial as a guide.
Please may I know how to steam the flowers, once dried and coloured?Thank you

Jacqueline Butler said...

Thank you so much...once the flowers are dried and colored, just hold them over some gentle steam from a pot of water or kettle for a few seconds. This will set the color and make the petals look less dusty. Be sure to only do it for a few seconds as you don't want your flowers to absorb a lot of moisture. Let them dry for a few minutes before using. Jacqueline x

Anonymous said...

I love you, I love you, I love you and thank you very, very much because you are so kind and share with people this, God bless you forever.

Lisa Templeton said...

Awesome Tutorial Jacqueline! Thanks so much for sharing! I am in love with my hydrangeas this year and have planted another 6 different ones. So cant wait to make some in sugar when I have time!