Sunday, 26 January 2014

Gelatin Flowers

My Thursday night craft group is amazing.  The ideas that people have are seemingly endless.  I've only seen one outside speaker (and I wasn't impressed, myself); it is usually one person or another leading the group to show what they know how to make.  I did a session once on my Grandma's style of covered hangers and at least one person used it to make her Christmas gifts, which tickled me no end.  

An exciting thing we did in the craft group recently was to make gelatin flowers.  I wasn't that keen, they sounded a bit icky, but boy did I change my mind.  They were really fun to make and even my very flawed outcome was still quite striking - far better than I expected.

To start we were give little teardrop shaped pieces, that looked like tiny cookie cutters, in large, medium and small sizes; also several lengths of paper covered wire that comes from a cake decorator's shop.  Florist wire is too thick.  The wires were cut into thirds to make petals and leaves.

We made petals and leaves by wrapping the wires around each teardrop and twisting the wire shut underneath:  petals were formed using the rounded end at the top and then inserting a pen to elongate them slightly; leaves were formed using the pointed end at the top and then squeezing the point just slightly to make it more leaf-like.

Small flowers were made by wrapping one end of a full length wire around a pencil five times, squishing those loops together and securing them by running the other end of the wire through the ring a couple of times and pulling it tight.  Each loop was then separated (finger nails are helpful here) and twisted into a flower like shape.  The end of a pencil pressed into the middle of the petals caused a cupping effect that was just lovely.

Just the wire work was really great fun, so simple and yet the results were very delicate.  I started getting enthusiastic about this point.

Then we mixed food colouring in cold water (4 TBS), playing with colours, adding a pearlising powder if we wished or icing whitener to make the colour opaque (also from cake decorating).  Then we added gelatin, just sprinkling and pressing it in, careful not to stir and create bubbles.  The small tub of coloured gelatin was then placed into a bowl of very hot water to make it more liquid.

Each of the wire shapes was then dipped into various coloured tubs of gelatin, shaking off the extra liquid or touching it to wet paper towels to absorb the blob that formed at the end.  Terrible results were easily fixed by rinsing in hot water and starting over.  The wires were then stuck into 'oasis' - that weird florist foam that turns to dust if you're not careful.  They had to dry for 24 hours.

The next time we met, Maureen - who used to work in a cake shop as a decorator - showed us how to use narrow tape to wrap each of the wires, twiddling (a technical term she gave us) the wires to help the wrapping process.  The tape was magic:  dark green and non-sticky on the roll, lighter green and very sticky after been stretched.  It was also easily torn, like paper / surgical tape.

She gave us round beads and long beads to put on other pieces of wire and a supporting wire to help put it all together.  When every thing was taped to within a millimeter of its life, she showed us how to use slightly wider tape and to form the flowers, combine the leaves and then put the whole thing together with the beaded stems,  bending the petals slightly, or the whole stem to make them all fit into a nice shape.

Bill had watched me dip the white petals at home, as I had run out of time at the craft group.  He thought it all looked a bit silly, and it did, but he completely changed his mind when I brought home the finished article.

Far from perfect, but still quite pleasing.

I doubt I have the eye to create anything original or spectacular, but for someone who did I could see how a centre-piece that coordinated with a person's colour scheme could be quite welcome.  Maureen had two lovely poinsettia looking arrangements draped around a large candle on a plate.  She's made corsages and boutonnierres(had to look that up) for weddings, too.

If you get the opportunity to make gelatin flowers, I would recommend you leap at it!

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