Studying a Tulip to Recreate in Sugar
July 9, 2018
I have found that springtime, especially around Mother's Day or close to it, are some of the best times to find great deals on flowers and flower bouquets at my local grocery store. That, and they have a wonderfully large selection during these times as well. I took advantage of this and purchased a bouquet of tulips early May. I chose the set for its bright and variegated colors - red-orange and yellow.
When I purchase bouquets, I usually take one of the flowers apart and dissect it, taking measurements and reference images, also creating do it yourself veiners and molds if applicable with my Alumilite mold putty.
If you do not make your own veiners or molds too often, I recommend buying the smaller version at either Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Alumilite-Amazing-Mold-Putty-0-66-Pound/dp/B0058VAG5A) or your local craft store. If you are like me and do create a large number of veiners and molds yourself, then I recommend purchasing a larger container (https://www.alumilite.com/store/p/925-Amazing-Mold-Putty.aspx), which is more expensive, but can be more cost effective.
I began my studies by first observing the exterior of the full flower (before removing any of its elements).
One of the first things I noticed was that the petals edges tended to have a bit of a rough edge (Images 1, 3, and 7). This meant that when I recreated it in sugar, I would not have to think much of obtaining too clean of an edge when cutting out my petals from gumpaste.
The flower shape is very rounded (Image 1), and even when the outer petals are more open, they still have a very rounded shape, in contrast to other tulips that can have a more elongated look.
As for the color, the "red"is more of a "red-orange" color with yellow bottom and top tips. The yellow runs a bit past the edges and bottoms and seems to "melt" into more of an orange color where the red and yellow "meet". This lead me to decide on using a light yellow based gumpaste for the tutorial (Image 4). With this, when adding the red petal dust to my gumpaste petals, I would get the red-orange I was looking for (Image 5). The colors become even brighter after steaming. This also made it easier to achieve that gradation of color where the red and yellow meet at the top and bottom edges. The process would be much harder if I were to use a red based gumpaste for my petals. If I were to try and add yellow petal dust to red gumpaste, the red would overpower the color and I would likely not be able to achieve that bright yellow I was going for.
The tulip's inner petals have a distinctive ridge (Images 2 and 3), which I included in the finished product (Image 6). I created the ridge from a veiner I made using my Alumilite mold putty. If you do not create your own veiner(s) as I did, you can still achieve same or similar results as indicated in the tutorial video (at the bottom of this page).
The inner petals tended to underlap/overlap with one another (Image 7) and the outer petals cover the area where the inner petals meet. When viewed from the top, there is a triangle-like shape formed by the inner petals in this manner. I chose to go for a look similar to Image 7 as viewed from the top. If you wish to go for a more closed tulip look, I would recommend creating the inner petals as in the tutorial. You would follow most of the same steps for the outer petals but would dry the petals slightly, say 15-30 minutes, then attach them directly to the dried inner petals.
You can cut out a dip in the top centers of the petals if desired (Image 7). Small details such as this help increase your tulip's realism.
Veining your gumpaste petals is optional. The tulips have very fine veining, which can also be recreated by the way one applies the petal dust in the tutorial. A lot of the veining is visible at the top and bottom edges where the red and orange petal dust meets. (Images 8 - 10).
After deciding how I would approach the color, I then had to decide how to approach the petal shape. I used an actual petal to create the pdf template for the tutorial and I noticed that the cupped portion of the petal was present at roughly the bottom third, the deepest portion, as seen in Image 8. I decided to use soup spoons rather than regular spoons for shaping so that I could achieve a more rounded look. I placed the gumpaste petals into the deepest part of my soup spoons about 1/3 way up from the bottom of the petals. I inserted the petal wires slightly less than 1/4 way in, otherwise the wire would poke through the gumpaste when placed in the spoons. When using the template to cut out the gumpaste petals, I cut slightly inside the lines to account for slight stretching when thinning the petal edges and/or veining.
Studying the tulip's interior was next.
There are six stamens for each tulip (Image 11), with the top two thirds purple and bottom third yellow. The top portion also has distinctive folds with a pointed tip (Image 13). I used gumpaste the same base color as the petals (Image 4) to create the individual stamens. I dusted the tops with purple petal dust in various degrees to achieve the gradation seen. I dried the stamens upright in styrofoam but you can achieve the slightly curved in shape in Image 12 by drying folded side down on the top portions of spoons, away from the deepest portion, just be sure to curve the floral wire or it will poke through the gumpaste. I did not worry too much about getting the slight curve as I would not be seeing much of this detail in the fully formed gumpaste flower.
The pistil measures about 3/4 in. long (Image 14) and the stamens run past the pistil a little less than 1/3 the pistil's length (Image 12). When fully taped to the pistil, the stamens should run slightly past halfway up the petals (Image 12).
The tulip stem is about 1/4 in. wide in a light yellow-green color. In the tutorial, I thicken the branch by adding additional floral wires. To save floral wires, you can use cookie and/or lollipop sticks to achieve the same results. I colored the stem using Edible Art Paint, which I purchased directly from the seller but that you can purchase on Etsy by performing a search for the desired color(s) or through various other cake supply online stores.
Whenever possible, I prefer to dissect and study the actual flower I wish to recreate in sugar. If that is not available, I try to accumulate as many different angled images as possible, preferably with something in the image itself that I can use as a size reference to create the image true to size. If for some reason I am unable (or wish not) to dissect an actual flower, I will take detailed measurements and use reference points within the flower itself as a guide, as I plan to do with a Paphiopedilum superbiens - Lady Slipper orchid I purchased not too long ago. I plan on recreating it for a not too distant sugar flower project which I will then blog about and post the full instructional video as I did with this tulip.
You can watch the full sugar flower tulip tutorial below, or you can visit our "Sugar Flowers and Foliage" page under the "Tutorials" menu where you will also find additional sugar flower and foliage tutorials. Click here for the pdf tulip sugar flower petal template: Tulip template.
Thank you for visiting,
The Confectionery Gallery