This is the 1st Video in a 10 Part Series on making gumpaste flowers that are beginner-friendly.
A step-by-step gumpaste Rose video tutorial showing everything you need to know as if you were in the classroom with me, nothing is left out.
The majority of tutorials encourage you to make large gumpaste roses, but if it’s the first flower you attempt, it’s not ideal to start with this flower size as many give up as it’s too hard to handle. The best one, to begin with, is a small formal rose made by a traditional method where you will learn lots of flower making techniques.
If you prefer to read, this blog post has everything you need to start.
I’ve also included references to key points in the video that need to be shown rather than explained.
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A formal tea rose is the most popular gumpaste sugar flower that people want to know how to make. They are the flowers most asked for as decoration for wedding cakes and on any celebration cakes.
I’m making this rose in three different shades of gum paste, and once you have made the rose and some leaves, I’ll show you how to assemble it into an arrangement to put on a cake.
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Making a Center for the Rose
First of all, I colored some gumpaste with gel paste color in a dark, medium, and pale shade.
The darker shade is for the center of the rose and then graduating to medium shade and then a pale shade for the outer petals.
The first step is to take the darker shade of flower paste and make a center for the rose. If you intend to make more than one rose, it’s advisable to make all your centers simultaneously, so they are all the same size.
Take a small piece of paste and roll it into a pea-sized ball. If you want to make more than one rose, ensure all the centers are the same. Start by making all the balls the same size, so if you want a dozen roses, make a dozen centers. Refer to Video at 01.27
I cover any gumpaste I am not using with cling film/plastic wrap, which is your best friend while you’re making flowers because if left exposed to the air, gum paste will dry out extremely quickly.
Anything you make that you will not use immediately has to go under the cling film/plastic wrap.
I’m going to use one of the paste balls to make a center, so the others go under the cling film/plastic wrap, making sure I wrap them tightly so they don’t dry.
Using one of the pea-shaped pieces of gumpaste and after dusting my hand with cornflour, I’m going to make it into a cone shape, and that will be the center of my rose.
Now I’m going to take a wire and make a small hook on the end of the wire and dip it into my edible glue, which I’ve made out of gum Arabic. Refer to Video at 02:52
You can use egg white, but make sure that it’s beaten very well and not stringy. Egg white will last for a few days if it’s in a screw-top jar and placed in the fridge when not in use.
Insert the hooked end of the wire into the widest end of the cone until it’s about three-quarters of the way up, then twist it slightly to make sure it will not come out. Reshape the cone if necessary, so it’s a perfect shape, and then I take my tweezers and close the paste around the wire so there’s absolutely no way that that will come out.
Refer to Video at 3:20
I then make a hook on the wire, the opposite end to the cone, to hang it up to dry. Refer to Video at 03:44
I’ve used a rack that came with my microwave oven, but you can use any suitable hanger or buy one purposely made from a cake materials supplier. Refer to Video at 03:53
To continue making the rose, I’m using a center cone that I left for 24 hours to dry, and it’s very hard. It’s important to leave it until it’s dry right the way through so that when I start making the rose, the wire doesn’t come out or the cone falls apart.
The First Row of Petals
The next stage is to make the petals. First, I need to cut the petals out with a cutter, and there are many rose petal cutters on the market made from plastic or metal. Refer to Video at 04:37
Some plastic cutters don’t always cut with a clean edge, and some are very good. Some metal cutters are made of inferior quality metal and will bend easily, distorting your petals.
Stainless steel cutters are excellent and will keep their shape.
I’ve had the metal cutters I use for many years, they are good quality, and there were six sizes in the set, and for this project, I will use the three middle sizes. Refer to Video at 5:31
The first layer of petals that go onto the cone will be the smallest ones, and I want to make those in the darkest shade of flower paste, the same as the center cone.
Remember to keep any paste you are not working on tightly wrapped.
Dusting a little bit of cornflour on my board and rolling out the paste quite thinly to make sure it doesn’t stick, I’m cutting out six small petals.
Any flower paste I haven’t used goes under the cling film/plastic wrap. Also, I’m putting five of the small petals I’ve just cut out under the cling film/plastic wrap, so they don’t dry out, leaving only one to work on.
How you work on the next stage will be the way that is best for you. I prefer to work small petals on my hand, but you could use a foam pad if you find that easier.
I’m going to start by dusting my hand with cornflower so the petal doesn’t stick. Refer to Video at 7:33
The petal edges need softening with a ball tool to smooth out the sharp cut edge and give it a softer look. Each petal needs to be softened around the edge, placing each one you have worked on back in the cling film/plastic wrap. Refer to Video at 7:44
It’s essential when you’re making sugar flowers to try and keep them as natural-looking as possible.
I’m making the rose in three shades of gum paste because I think a shaded rose looks lovely, but there’s no need to do that as you can make it all one color, so it’s a matter of personal choice.
Now I’ve got my petals ready; I’m going to take one and paint it with a little glue and start placing it around the center cone. Refer to Video 09: 01
The petals need to be folded right around the rose center, and each one folds over the other as you go until you’ve got all six attached, and slip the edge of the last one under the first.
You can see the cone’s top, which gives the shape to the rose. It represents the petals that haven’t come out yet.
I’m smoothing the petals down onto the cone itself, and that’s the first part of the rose finished, so I’ll place it into some flower foam while preparing the next layer of petals.
The Second Layer of Petals
For the next layer of petals, I will use the middle shade of flower paste and the middle size cutter.
Dusting a little cornflower on my board and a little on my paste, I’ll roll it out, making sure the gumpaste doesn’t stick.
I will need four petals cut with this medium-sized cutter, making sure the edges are cut cleanly.
Once I have cut out the petals, the remainder of my paste will go back into my storage, and three petals will go under the cling film/plastic wrap to make sure they don’t dry out.
Dusting a little cornflour/cornstarch into my hand and using the ball tool, I soften the petals’ edges, and I aim to get rid of the sharp cut look. After working on each one, I’ll place it under the cling film/plastic wrap. Refer to Video at 12:59
Now they’re ready to mount onto my cone.
The first layer of petals was very closed, but these are slightly more open. Refer to Video at 13:57
After applying a little glue to each petal, I attach them to the first layer of petals, overlapping them, leaving them slightly more open. Refer to Video at 14:20
I’m making sure I don’t soak the petal with the glue because if I do, I’ll find my petals will be very wet and difficult to work with.
Once I’ve attached the last one, I’ll get a cocktail stick and lift the first one slightly and tuck it underneath, adding a little glue to the side of the first petal if necessary. Refer to Video at 15:16
Now I have the second layer of petals mounted onto the cone. I’m going to make sure it’s the right shape by molding it around the previous row of petals with my fingers. Refer to Video at 15:36
The Third Layer of Petals
I’ll cut the next layer of petals from the palest shade of paste. I need six petals, so I’m going to work the flower paste to make sure it’s nice and pliable.
Working the paste towards the center keeps the back of the paste smooth then, when I turn the gumpaste over to roll it out, it will roll smoothly and evenly. Refer to Video at 16:02
The paste needs to be rolled out quite thinly, so when I can see the shade of my fingers through it, then it’s quite thin enough. Refer to Video at 17:07
Next, I’m going to cut out the six largest petals – if they come out of the cutter easily, it usually means they have cut cleanly. However, I’ll check to make sure there is no residue on the petals’ sides, then place the cut petals under my cling film/plastic wrap.
I’m not going to work these petals on my hand because I want them slightly more stretched.
Laying one of the petals on my board and using the end of a fine paintbrush, I roll the petal edge so it’s stretched and softened. Then I pick it up, place it in my hand, and with a ball tool, I slightly indent the center so it will give a lovely petal shape. Refer to Video at 18:37
Next, I carefully place it under the cling film/plastic wrap, careful not to flatten it out again.
You can use a cocktail stick to do this, but if you’re going to use one, sand it with fine sandpaper first because you’ll find that cocktail sticks are not smooth. Standard wooden cocktails are full of bumps and ridges, and you’ll find that unless it’s smooth, it will make your petal very uneven.
I’ll continue preparing the remaining five petals, rolling the edges, and working them with my ball tool. However, I will make sure I don’t work the petals too hard, just enough to slightly flute the edges and then give them a nice rose petal shape.
I’m sure if you don’t want to make glue, you can buy some ready-made. It depends on how good your source of flower-making materials are where you live, whether you can get hold of any or not, or you could buy your materials online.
Now I’m going to take the partially completed rose and the first of my six petals, which I will paint with a little glue. Refer to Video at 21:26
Placing the petal on the rose, making sure I have it the right way around so that the flute is going outwards and the hollow is going around the rose center.
It would be a good idea to let the first two layers of petals dry before adding these six petals. It would make rose much easier to handle, especially if you have never made a sugar flower before.
I’m adding the petals by overlapping the previous petal. For the last petal, I lift the edge of the first one and put the edge of the last petal under it, adding a little more glue to the edge of the first petal if required.
I’ve finished the rose, and I must make sure its back is quite smooth because I’m going to put a calyx on the base. If anything protrudes from the base of the rose or is not smooth, the calyx won’t fit onto it correctly. Refer to Video at 24:54
If you leave the rose to dry for a few hours between adding each layer of petals, you will find that it’s easier to work with and less likely to fall apart.
Now I’ve made the rose; I need to make the calyx and seed pod go on the base.
There are quite a variety of calyx cutters on the market, and which ones you buy will depend on your preference.
I prefer the plastic ones because they keep their shape, but I haven’t got a plastic one that is the right size, so I’m going to use a metal one this time because it just happens to be the size that I want. Refer to Video at 25:43
The first step in making the calyx is making a cone out of gumpaste, the same way I made the cone of paste for the center of the rose. Once I’ve made the cone, I will flatten out the wider end to form a little Mexican hat shape.
I’m going to use the end of a paintbrush (or you can use a cocktail stick) to roll out the cone base until it’s quite thin. Refer to Video at 27:23
As I expect you have realized by now, you aren’t going to make gumpaste sugar flowers in five minutes, so you need a lot of patience. They take time to do, but they are well worthwhile making, and when you have finished, you will be delighted with your achievement.
I will place the calyx cutter over the center raised portion of the Mexican hat and cut it out. Refer to Video at 27:54
Lift the cutter, and with the calyx still in place, I’m running my finger around the edge, then peel away the excess paste.
I have almost made the calyx, but I’ve still got to make it fit over the end of the rose, so I’m going to shape it with a dowel.
Once I have widened the calyx center with the dowel, I smooth it with the bone tool. Refer to Video at 28:36
If you look at a rose calyx, you’ll find that sometimes each arm of the calyx is split, so with a pair of scissors, I’m going to cut down just slightly both sides of each one.
Now you will see why I kept insisting that it isn’t a good idea to have anything protruding from my rose base because I’m going to thread the wire through the center of the calyx. As long as the rose base is smooth, it should fit snugly into the calyx. Refer to Video at 30:33
So, I’m going to put a little glue onto the calyx center and thread it over the rose wire very carefully, so I don’t knock off any of the calyx arms. Refer to Video at 30:45
Then, I’m shaping the bottom of the calyx to form the seed pod with my fingers. Refer to Video at 31:06
As a rose opens out, the calyx curls over so I can also carefully bend them over slightly. Refer to Video at 31:26
Making the Leaves
I will hang the completed rose upside down to dry and move on to making the leaves.
For these rose-leaves, I will use small and medium cutters because they are the right size for the project I am doing now. Refer to Video at 32:33
I’ll need a small piece of green paste to make these leaves.
I can’t emphasize enough that it is essential to cover any paste you are not working on.
When I first started making flowers, I wasted so much paste because I kept forgetting to cover it, left it out, and it dried too hard to use. The consequence was that I kept having to color more paste (or even make more paste), and sometimes it can be challenging to match the same shade you’ve been using.
I’m dusting my work surface and the flower paste lightly with cornflour and rolling it from the center outwards on both sides. Doing this leaves a ridge down the center where I can thread a wire and roll the outside quite thinly. Refer to Video 33:55
I will now cut out the leaf, making sure the ridge I left for the vein is in the center. Once I have cut it, I then run my finger around the edge to make sure it’s a clean-cut then remove the leaf from the cutter. Refer to Video at 35:14
Now I will take a 28g wire, and I’m going to make a tiny hook in one end of the wire, dip the hook into my edible glue and thread the hooked end of the wire into the center raised vein. Refer to Video at 36:09
Next, I’m going to press the back of the leaf lightly onto the veiner so it’s left a vein pattern in the paste. Then I’m going to press the veiner into the front of the leaf but not too hard, or I’ll flatten the vein markings on the back.
A leaf is rarely perfectly flat, so I want to give it a little bit of movement. To do this, I’m going to bend the leaf slightly, and then if you have a look at roses, sometimes you’ll see that they slightly curl at the top. Doing that gives a bit more interest in assembling the spray. Refer to Video at 36:51
The leaf goes into the flower foam to dry, and altogether I will make three small leaves and two larger leaves, which will be adequate for this spray.
Taping the Stems
Now the rose is completed, and the leaves are made, you will want to know what to do with them.
The next step is to learn how to put flower tape around your stems. Not only to make them the correct color because sometimes, but a green-colored covered wire is also used.
Unfortunately, if they are covered or uncovered, the wires are slippery and won’t stay in place while assembling the flowers and leaves into arrangements for the cakes.
The flower tape used to cover the wire is sticky but not your fingers. It’s just sticky enough to stick to itself and makes it much easier to assemble your flowers into sprays.
To cover the wire, with one hand, I hold the flower tape a short distance from one end, then with the other hand, I put the end of the tape around the wire and pinch it together around the wire right under the base of the leaf. It’s quite firm around the wire, so I can then roll the stem into the tape between my index finger and my thumb.
I roll the tape down the stem a little way, then push the tape up to the leaf base so it’s completely covered. Refer to Video at 39:22
As I am rolling the tape, I pull it gently downwards with the other hand so it’s not rolling onto the stem in one place but traveling downwards.
You may have to do it a few times to get used to it, but eventually, with practice, you’ll find that it’s quite easy.
You’ll find that when you assemble your arrangements, it’s such a benefit that the stems stick to one another. Without the tape, they would slip all over the place, making it very difficult to put the flowers and leaves together.
Once the stems are covered in flower tape, I will assemble the leaves into a five-leaf spray.
I’m putting the top three leaves together first. Refer to Video at 41:43
Next, I’m going to add a larger leaf, on one side of the stem, below the three leaves, and tape it, which will thicken the main stem, and then add the fifth leaf to the other side. Refer to Video at 42:06
The leaves will need adjusting, and they can be twisted about a bit to make them look natural. Refer to Video at 42:39
The rose has already been taped, and now I’m going to tape the rose to the leaves. Refer to Video at 42:51
If necessary, trim the bottom of the main stem, tape it once more, and I have a lovely little rose spray.
One, two, or many of these rose sprays on a cake, make beautiful decorations.
Just a word about the florist’s tape or also called flower tape. It comes on a roll, and you can get it in various colors, e.g., pale and dark green, red, white, brown, and many other colors. Refer to Video at 42:00
The tape is essential in sugar flower making, and you can use it straight from the roll if you want the full-width tape. If you need a half-width tape, it will cut quite easily if you fold it around your fingers. Refer to Video at 43:46
Then flatten it and cut it with a pair of scissors. Refer to Video at 43:55
The smaller the flower, the narrower the tape is needed, and this little gadget is perfect for cutting it to various widths. I think you can get it from florists or cake decorating suppliers.
Inside there are three razor blades. It’s not dangerous as they are well secured when it’s in use, and you can turn them around or renew them when they get blunt, and that’s the time to be very careful that you don’t cut yourself.
I like it because it cuts well, and it’s a tool that’s not going to wear out – I’ve been using mine for over 30 years.
It’s easy to use as you take a length of flower tape, thread it through the back in the arrow’s direction, shut the top, and pull the tape through. You can have either 2 or 4 blades, depending on how wide you want to cut your tape.
I hope that this article has dispelled any fears you may have had about making gumpaste sugar flowers, and I hope you will have a go at making this rose.
If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section below.