Mastering Modern Sugar Flowers
Another extensive Craftsy Class featuring a legend of the cake decorating world! Nicholas Lodge’s books were canon even back when I started doing this, the standard from which many sugar artists blossomed into their own. Mr. Lodge is pedantic, detailed, and serious in his instruction, which is called for when making the highest end, most complex flowers. (On a side note, for those looking for more Nicholas Lodge classes, check out Joanne's review of his Custom Lettering & Monogram class!)
The majority of my job here at Pink Cake Box is making flowers, and often times I have to sit down and come up with a method for something new I haven’t done before. When time constraints prevent me from spending a day sorting cutters and trying different things, I turn to the masters for help. While I do not have the luxury (due to time constraints and production schedules) to make flowers exactly as Mr. Lodge instructs in this class, I did use his directions as a jumping off point for my own flowers recently for a very important wedding cake.
Dahlias Sugar Flower Construction
First up are Dahlias. Since they go in and out of vogue as an event flower, I’ve never had the opportunity to fine tune my process for making them. Every time I have to make them I basically start from scratch. Luckily, Mr. Lodge has this covered. I used a different gum paste, different tools, and changed the process as I went to fit my situation, while referring back to his as the gold standard.
Mr. Lodge uses a wide range of tools to make his flowers, many of which he sells through his website. You can buy a full kit of materials or you can make do with what you have (in my case, what I use normally in the shop). My dahlias were made using the PMC cutters shown in the class, a standard cel pad, a textured veining stick, and a dresden tool. I used paper towels instead of a cosmetic sponge to support my flowers. So while I feel it would be easy to become caught up in the selection of tools he uses to make one flower, don’t be discouraged from trying his methods for that reason alone.
Please note that this class is certainly not for the casual hobbyist! This is intensive and complex, and aimed at the experienced sugar artist. However, I do feel the flowers in this class would be a good starting point for someone who has made some gum paste flowers before and wants to try more a challenging subject.
As you can see, I followed more or less the same course as Mr. Lodge, with a few tweaks:
And my final result is slightly different as well:
Ranunculus Sugar Flower Construction
I also had to make ranunculus, which is a flower I'm pretty comfortable with. But I watched Mr. Lodge go about his method and was interested to see the differences in the finished flowers based on cutter shape and approach.
Mr. Lodge's flowers are fantastic, of course:
Mine are designed to fit into the sort of flower arrangements we do here in the shop:
We paint our flowers after they have dried, using a mix of petal dust and airbrushing. Mr. Lodge also talks extensively about coloring the flowers for realistic effect. He paints each section of the flower as he completes it, switching from sculpting to painting as needed. While I almost never paint flowers while assembling (remember what I said about the luxury of time? Perfect example), I certainly think it produces a wonderful effect. And the serious student should give it a try, for sure.
Nicholas also has section for succulents, but as they were not on the menu for my upcoming wedding cake, I wasn't able to try them this time. I've made succulents in the past though, and Mr. Lodge's method is solid as expected. As stated in the class, these types of flowers have become more popular in recent years and it's certainly important for the professional to expand their repertoire to fit the fashion of the moment. The demand for atypical arrangements is growing, and even if you do not have a sudden order for dahlias, ranunculus and succulents now, you might well have a request for something that will require you to make use of the same base of knowledge.
Mr. Lodge also goes into depth about display and arrangement of the flowers on the cakes. In most cases though, I am following the design of the client's florist. Here are my flowers as they were arranged on the cake.
In conclusion, if you are an experienced sugar sculptor and want to up your game, Nicholas Lodge has something to teach you. Do you have to follow step for step? Well, you can -- but I encourage you to take in all he has to offer and make it your own, depending on your own skill set and esthetic. After so many years of only encountering Mr. Lodge's work in book form, it was fascinating to watch him at work in real time. I'm also pleased to see Craftsy offering higher skill level classes aimed at the more serious technician.
Does Mastering Modern Sugar Flowers sound right for you? Purchase it here for 25% Off! Not ready to purchase? Then we recommend starting with one of Craftsy's free mini cake decorating classes!
Craftsy Class: Mastering Modern Sugar Flowers
Skill Level: Advanced
"Must Have" Tools for Craftsy Class
- 18g wire
- Ball Tool
- cel buds
- cel pad
- gum glue or egg white
- Pasta Machine Attachment
- PMC daisy cutters
- small knitting needle or skewer
- veined dresden tool
Want to learn how to make these dress cakes? Check out our online Little Pink Dress Cake Class!
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Anna is a classically trained sculptor and illustrator who started her career in cake decorating with Ron Ben Israel in 2000. Since then she has worked for a number of well known cake studios in the New York area doing complex sugar work and design. Her specialties include freehand painting,...