I was contemplating giving pulled sugar a try, but it sounds really complicated, and I would probably be the first person in history to entirely burn an entire finger off!
So, for anyone who has played with pulled sugar is it hard? Fun? Frustrating? Is it difficult to do? How much time to do you have to work with it before it cools? Any advice for a sugar newbie??
I'm not a fan, but that's because I haven't done it enough to turn my fingers into asbestos and not be hurt by it. You can keep putting it under your heat lamp to increase your working time. I didn't find it to be nearly as frustrating as I thought I might.
I bought stuff to try it a couple of years ago at a ices convention, but never pulled it out because I had that fear of burning myself. In April I went to OK City to take a class with B. Keith Ryder. I'd strongly suggest looking for a class if possible. Not saying you can't just pick it up on your own, but I felt way more comfortable working with it in class than I think I would have at home.
No one got burned during out class, though I can say that my fingers were raw feeling at the end of the day. Or course part of that was from heat, the other part having a sweaty cotton glove between your finger and latex. We had already cooked sugar to work with though, and to me that seems to the time when you can really so some damage.
I enjoyed it, and have pulled the stuff out at home once since the class, to show my nephew it. It can be frustrating though. Pieces very easily break, snap or pop. In class on the second day, we were working on a parrot. After redoing a whole wing because it broke, then working on the tail I ended up cracking the piece of isomalt that the branch the bird was on was glued to. While trying to fix all of that I ended up breaking the bird. This was at the end of the day, so at that point I was beyond frustrated. Had I been at home I would have probably just sat down and cried.
I really don't see how you can do sugar at home with out making some investment, which isn't cheap when it comes to the sugar stuff. Sugar cools down really fast. It would go from workable to no in a short period of time, so having something like a warming box or even just a heat lamp would help make things easier.
I have a hard time saying it is difficult to do, because I think that all depends on the person. I seriously doubt I could have done some of the same stuff at home with out the class instruction I had. And I can also say that I have much respect for those sugar artist out there. And after you have been working on a piece and hear that dreaded snap, you really feel for them when you are watching them work with it on tv and they have breakage.