Stencilling gum paste flowers
Today, the sun is shining and it feels like spring is here to stay so I’m making some spring inspired gum paste decorations using stenciling. Stenciling is great technique which creates really lovely results and the only fiddly part of it is cutting out a stencil, and you can always cheat and just buy them. You’ll obviously need some gum paste for this so if you’re not sure on how to make it, check my post on making gum paste butterflies.
I used acetate to make my stencils with but you can buy stenciling card which is easier to cut and is waxed so it can be used over and over again. Making a stencil is slightly fiddly but once you have them made, and as long as you look after them, you’ll be able to use them again and again very easily. Acetate isn’t the most ideal thing to make stencils from as it has a tendency to rip when you cut it so you have to be very patient with it. I made two different designs for a tulip and a stencil for a pansy which all seemed to work well.
When designing a stencil, you need to think about negative space as what you cut out will be coloured, and also about how you’re going to cut out the stencil and keep it in one piece. My feeling is to opt for simplicity as you can always add interest to the stenciling with colour. Once I had my designs drawn out, I traced them onto separate pieces of acetate and carefully cut them out.
To make the tulips and pansies, you’ll need some white gum paste. Take small pieces off it to make one flower at a time and leave the rest of the gum paste wrapped in cling film. For stenciling, you need to add a little vegetable fat or shortening to the gum paste to moisten it. I’ve recently discovered that using a pasta roller is amazing for rolling out icing really thinly. If you have one, just treat your gum paste the same as pasta dough, so knead it thoroughly and then use the roller and decrease the thickness setting progressively to get the thickness you want. If you don’t have a pasta machine, simply knead your gum paste, and roll it out to a few millimetres thick using a rolling pin.
Once you have the gum paste rolled out, lightly grease the stencil with fat and place it securely over the gum paste, using a rolling pin to roll over it to secure it and make sure the colour doesn’t bleed. Using a large dry brush and dust colours, which are available online and from cake decoration shops, and working from lighter colours to darker ones, build up the colours on the flowers. I generally use more colour on the edges and graduate it inwards to create a nice shaded effect. I’d recommend having a photograph of the flowers you’re trying to replicate to look at to help with colour ideas. I used the pansies to decorate my double chocolate cupcakes
Once you have used your stencils, you’ll need to wash them. Do this by gently cleaning them in hot soapy water and then dabbing the stencils dry with a towel.
Stencilling can be as gentle or a bold as you like and it’s another technique which is only limited to your own imagination. Simple graphic designs seem to work best as then the stencil is easy to make. There are also plenty of designs available from cake decorating shops but you can also use card making stencils, children’s stencil and small paint decorating stencil. You can always browse through designs online to get a few ideas for stencils of your own.