Sugarcraft suppliers and cake decorating shops stock a bewildering variety of equipment for making gum paste flowers. You can buy cutters, moulds and formers for almost any flower imaginable, but this can prove expensive. Instead of buying a specific lily cutter, draw around the large and small petals of a real stargazer on some waxed paper, then cut out the shapes. You now have a free pattern. Obtain floristry wire, tape, colourings and foodsafe, nonedible "stamens" from a specialist supplier, and you're ready to make your own gum-paste stargazer lilies.
Smear a little white fat on a counter surface. Roll a small amount of gum paste as thinly as you can, keeping the rest tightly wrapped. Place your waxed-paper patterns on the paste and cut around each one with the craft knife. You will need three large and three small petals per lily.
Dust your palm with a little cornstarch. Place each petal into your hand and shape it by using gentle pressure from the cocktail stick. Frill the edges by rolling the stick along the cut edges of your petal. Draw the stick a little more firmly lengthways down the middle of the petal to fold it in half slightly. Use the real flower to guide you in shaping the petal.
Cut a length of floristry wire for each petal. Before the gum paste sets too hard, dip the end of the wire in egg white and insert it gently into the bottom of the petal. Squeeze the gum paste gently around the wire.
Drape each petal over the cardboard tube to dry in a natural outward curl. Leave all the petals to dry overnight.
Mix two shades of pink powder colouring, darker and lighter, by combining with cornstarch in small containers. An ice cube tray is ideal. A small amount of powder goes a long way.
Dust the centre of each petal with dark pink, using a small, clean paintbrush. With a fresh brush, dust lighter pink toward the outer edges of the petal. Be very sparing; you can always add more colour, but can never take colour away.
Boil water in a tea kettle or pan. Carefully pass each petal briefly through some steam. This will "set" the powdered colour. The petals will be a little sticky now, so set them down to dry again.
Dilute a small amount of pink paste colour with clean water. Using another paintbrush, dry the tip slightly on a paper towel, then dab tiny spots over the cooled petals.
Collect five stamens together. Wind one end of a piece of wire around their bases twice, then fold the short edge of wire back along its length. Wrap the joint of wire and stamen with floristry tape, stretching it slightly as you turn.
Place the three larger petals evenly around the base of the stamens and wrap the tape firmly around all four wires.
Place the three smaller petals below the larger ones and wrap with tape. Continue wrapping all wires with spiral turns of tape until your lily stem is the required length.
Work with a piece of bubble wrap on the table so that your flowers are less likely to break if you drop one. Make plenty of spare petals. If one isn't to your liking, you have lost no time. Use crumpled foil instead of a cardboard roll to form less-uniform petals.
Tips and warnings
- Work with a piece of bubble wrap on the table so that your flowers are less likely to break if you drop one.
- Make plenty of spare petals. If one isn't to your liking, you have lost no time.
- Use crumpled foil instead of a cardboard roll to form less-uniform petals.