How to paint with luster dust

Written by amrita chuasiriporn
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How to paint with luster dust
The glossy finish on the shells on this cake comes from lustre dust. (wedding cake image by jimcox40 from

When you paint with lustre dust, it adds a sheen to whatever food you are decorating. Commonly used to paint fondant, royal icing and chocolate, lustre dust may be used by itself or in conjunction with matt dusts. When used with matt dusts, it adds shine and intensity to those colours without altering them. You can experiment with mixing different matt dust colours together with lustre dusts to achieve different effects. Lustre dust must be diluted in order to paint, and it is not water soluble.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Flat-edged toothpick
  • Small dish or finger bowl
  • Vodka or lemon, almond or vanilla extract
  • Small, round artist's paintbrush
  • Matt dust (optional)

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  1. 1

    Scoop a tiny bit of lustre dust out of its container with a flat-edged toothpick and place it in a small dish or finger bowl.

  2. 2

    Pour a small amount of vodka or lemon, almond or vanilla extract into the dish. Use about three times as much liquid as the amount of dust you added.

  3. 3

    Stir the lustre dust and liquid together with the toothpick. Add more dust if needed; mix in matt dust if you want to create shiny colours. Mix thoroughly so no clumps remain and all the dust is incorporated into the liquid.

  4. 4

    Dip your paintbrush into the mixture and begin painting baked goods or chocolate. Let the lustre dust dry in between coats if multiple coats are desired; dust mixed with any of the aforementioned liquids will have a consistency like watercolour, but will dry very quickly.

  5. 5

    Paint successive straight lines next to each other to shade evenly. Swirl your paintbrush around in the wet dust to create subtle swirling patterns in your finished project.

  6. 6

    Rinse all working materials with water when you have finished painting.

Tips and warnings

  • Since such a small amount of both lustre and matt dusts go a long way, it is not possible to give an exact measurement. Start with a very small increment and see how you like the results. Allow yourself time for experimentation until you are familiar with using the dust to achieve your desired result.
  • Lemon, almond and vanilla extracts are all made with high concentrations of alcohol. It is for this reason that they are as effective as vodka for mixing and painting with lustre dust. However, vanilla extract may darken the colour slightly. Other clear high-proof alcohols such as rum or grain alcohol may also be used. Be careful as the alcohol evaporates upon drying, but fumes can be irritating while you are working.

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