The Art Of Flower Making - Beginners Rant

Decorating By Nadiaa Updated 11 Jun 2014 , 5:04pm by MyFairDiva

Nadiaa Posted 10 Jun 2014 , 12:01pm
post #1 of 20

I'm venturing into the world of flower making for the first time and guess what? I'm discovering it's not easy! Lol! I'm using gum paste, but I'm rolling it quite thin to get delicate petals but the petals just flop everywhere and won't sit nicely. And as they dry they just look really....dry. How can I gloss them up a bit? 

It probably doesn't help I was playing around colouring my gum paste and ended up making a flower with the most revolting dusty pink known to man. It did nothing for my flower making mood! Hahaha! 


So, after a full hour of sitting at the table I have one peony drying. I've tucked paper between the petals to help separate them and stand them up a bit better while it dries. Pretty sure I'm going to be very unimpressed with my efforts in the morning! 


The peony I made was the unwired kind. Is it better to do the wired? 


Anyway, not really posting for any reason other than to give full props to all of you that make those amazing flowers I see on your cakes all the time. They are SO hard to make!!! But I'll get there, just disappointed I wasn't perfect the first time, lol!!!!! 

19 replies
hobbist Posted 10 Jun 2014 , 12:30pm
post #2 of 20

I understand how you feel.  I have spent many, many hours at my kitchen table figuring things out.   Many of these flowers  are  not found in nature.   I have quite a collection of royal icing and gumpaste/fondant mix flowers completed now.   I can see a lot of improvement in my flowers now.  I have recently started tossing out the less than desirable ones.   Everything gets better with practice. 

cazza1 Posted 10 Jun 2014 , 2:28pm
post #3 of 20

Think before you throw out your not quite as good flowers of other possible options.  Where I lived in Victoria the nursing home had quite a few people who were still fully capable of living, but just not by themselves.  Whenever someone had a birthday a cake would be made and decorated by the residents.  I donated hundreds of flowers to them both when I lived there and when we were leaving for W.A.  They were so appreciative. My worst flowers they thought were fantastic.

ropalma Posted 10 Jun 2014 , 5:50pm
post #4 of 20

I don't throw anything away.  I had this blob of dry royal icing that I kept.  I painted the blob and it became a rock to sit my Little Mermaid as a topper for the cake.  You can click on my Avatar I have the cake there.  You would be amazed what you can use stuff that you thought was not useable.

winniemog Posted 10 Jun 2014 , 8:20pm
post #5 of 20

AYes flower making is an art, so yes, it takes hours (and years - sorry!) of practice to master. The great thing is that as Cazza says, people are very appreciative of basic efforts with flowers! I have kept all my flowers (even the very first ones I made) and they are great to drag out in an emergency situation, especially for family - obviously I would never sell one of these!

Three tips for you - peonies are very hard...I didn't even attempt one till I'd been making flowers for three years! I'm impressed you had a go. I always wire all my flowers, that way you can partially dry some petals to shape them, and then add them to the flower.

Rolling the paste thinly also takes time and experience. Your flowers will become more delicate and potentially smaller (if that's what you want) as you progress. If you colour your paste (esp deep colours) you might want to rest the paste a day before using it, it might be more workable.

Lastly, dusting the finished flower can really make I pop - they look very flat in a monotone, but dust can really lift them.

If you can find an actual in-person class with a great teacher, I would recommend that, as they can really demonstrate great technique and set you on the path to making beautiful flowers.

Goreti Posted 10 Jun 2014 , 8:48pm
post #6 of 20

It does take a little practice.  You will notice an improvement as you go along. I started almost 3 yrs ago and I can see a HUGE difference.  So don't get discouraged.  Like winniemog has mentioned  it really improves the look if you dust the flowers after they dry.  Here is a tutorial on dusting 

.  This really makes a huge difference.  I also like to steam my flowers after I dust them.

ypierce82 Posted 10 Jun 2014 , 9:23pm
post #7 of 20

I understand how you feel! What I have learned is to give them just a small chance to dry so that they don't flop over, or use small pieces of rolled up paper towel to support the petals until they dry. I got so tired of making gumpaste that I just bought some play-doh and I use that to practice with lol much cheaper and the medium is similar. When I can't sleep, I grab my play doh and just practice, practice, practice! It'll come to you, but don't give up, and don't throw anything away. You'll find use for it even if it isn't right at that moment. Good luck!

FlourPots Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 1:27am
post #8 of 20
I literally just made my first flowers ever (roses), a few days ago, and I had the same thought as you...kudos to those that do it so well and make it look so easy!
I know mine need work, but I also know that this is a skill that requires LOTS of practice (as others have mentioned)...there's no getting around it.
A big issue I had was with the gluing...
I realized that I couldn't follow the gluing instructions from the tutorials I used. I basically had to add a dot, just one dot, of glue to each petal so that I could keep it place, but still be able to re-position it easily...and boy did I have to re-position!
(I did this row-by-row...)

When I glued the way the instructors showed, it was too stuck, and since they were so thin, they tore (also tore the one below it), it was a mess that I ended up trashing....but gluing my way, and also holding it together with one hand, I was able to get it to look how I wanted, THEN brush glue where I should've in the first place.
I think with experience I'll be able to build the layers correctly.
Nadiaa Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 5:56am
post #9 of 20

AI'm adding a picture so you can all see my first attempt. I really need a peony cutter set, for this I just used heart shaped cutters that I frilled myself. I can see that I should have put an extra row of petals near the centre. [IMG][/IMG]

cakebaby2 Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 6:29am
post #10 of 20

That is one pretty flower, WOW for a first attempt, you'll be knocking them out like a factory soon and each one will be better and bette xr

JWinslow Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 6:56am
post #11 of 20


Originally Posted by Nadiaa 

I'm adding a picture so you can all see my first attempt. I really need a peony cutter set, for this I just used heart shaped cutters that I frilled myself. I can see that I should have put an extra row of petals near the centre.

You are being too hard on yourself for a first try but I agree you need more petals for a closed flower. 
You can always make more notches in your heart petals to make them more peony like and work your edges more.  I also noticed that they are not veined.  If you do not have a veiner use a veining tool and work both sides of each petal (Nicolas Lodge tip).  This will give them more definition. 
Dusting flowers even if you use dark colors will bring them to life.  I even dust my red ones with three different shades to give them depth.  If you find your colored paste is still too soft after you let it rest, add a little tylose to bring it to the right consistency. 
For a closed peony, I only wire the two outside rows so I can still position them how I want - not necessary though.  You can also use a pasta machine/attachment, if you have one, to roll out your paste very thin and consistent (faster also).  After you cut your out your petals and work them you can let them set up a little in an apple tray to help curve them.  You can get them from your grocery store produce department.  They might look at you sideways when you ask for them but they are one of my favorite tools for flowers.  Never give up - like anything else, it takes practice :)

cakebaby2 Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 7:02am
post #12 of 20

Excellent advice, I'd add that don't scimp on the veining pad if you do buy one I got one from Amazon, a set for under £30.00 and its rubbish. The cutters are good but the veining pad is very poor. You get what you pay for, better buying a good petal veining pad seperately.

Nadiaa Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 7:10am
post #13 of 20

AThankyou both so much xx I didn't think of a veiner! What colour dusts do you recommend I keep on hand? Yellow and green? Would that suit most flowers?

cakebaby2 Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 8:13am
post #14 of 20

Get the primary colours red, blue yellow then you can play about with mixing, though a couple of gree'ns like holly and spring will be a good help.x 

JWinslow Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 12:55pm
post #15 of 20

I would add some pinks to that list of colors also.  Also, when you go to use your dusts and they are darker than what you want, you can lighten them with a little corn starch.   You can make different shades from one colors.  I also purchased some empty screw top bottles at Michael's to keep all the leftover dust and new shades I made.

Nadiaa Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 1:00pm
post #16 of 20

AThank you both so very much!! I feel excited to try my next flower, and I'll be getting some apple trays tomorrow!!

JWinslow Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 1:18pm
post #17 of 20


Originally Posted by Nadiaa 

Thank you both so very much!! I feel excited to try my next flower, and I'll be getting some apple trays tomorrow!!

You're very welcome :)

JWinslow Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 1:58pm
post #18 of 20
galidink Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 5:00pm
post #19 of 20

I agree with Goreti ! we started about the same time , it gets much easier ! don't give up !

MyFairDiva Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 5:04pm
post #20 of 20

AI'm also starting with the flowers, I am taking a class each Saturday and so far (after 4 lessons) we have accomplished a few roses, calla lilies, jasmines and some filler flowers like babie's breath, beside some leaves.

I wanted to tell you not to be discouraged! That is a great start you have there, all I can tell you is to keep practicing, peonies aren't the easiest. IMO the big wired petal ones look fantastic, but they take a lot of patience to make. It's a labour of love. I've seen some tutorials that use a small Styrofoam ball to make the center and make it appear fuller.

Try looking for tutorials on YouTube, I have found some really good ones there, I liked the rose by Kara's Couture Cakes. She uses steam after she's dust colored her rose. Steam sets the petal dust and gives it a satin like finish, like a real flower would have.

Keep practicing! Cheers, Cin

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