This is the 10th Video in a 10 Part Series on making gumpaste flowers that are beginner-friendly.
This step-by-step gumpaste Sweet Pea Video Tutorial shows everything you need to know as if you were in the classroom with me with nothing left out.
You will also be shown how to assemble the parts and make them into an arrangement to put onto a cake.
If you prefer to read, then this blog post has everything you need to get started.
I’ve also included references to key points in the video that need to be shown rather than explained.
NOTE: This video is number ten in a series of ten videos. If you are a beginner at making gumpaste flowers, then start with the first one, “Gumpaste Rose” and work your way through them, and you will learn the basic techniques enabling you to make a range of gumpaste sugar flowers and leaves.
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This arrangement of sweet peas is perfect for decorating a wedding cake or for any celebration cake.
To make it, I will need six buds, 18 full flowers, twenty-four leaves, and eighteen ribbon picks.
Once I have made all the buds, flowers, and leaves, and they have dried, I will assemble them with the ribbon picks into six small sprays. I will then assemble the six sprays into a larger arrangement.
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Making a bud
First, I’m going to make a bud.
I’m taking a 22g covered wire and making a small hook on the end of the wire with my tweezers.
I’m using blunt, pointed end tweezers to make the hook rather than trying to make a small hook with my fingers. Refer to Video at 00:12
The purpose of the hook is so the wire doesn’t come out of the bud when I’ve completed it.
I’m using gumpaste that I have tinted pink with mulberry gel color to make this flower.
For details on how to color gumpaste, see my blog post “How to Color Gum Paste on a Budget Like an Expert.”
Now, I’m going to use a very small piece of gumpaste paste to cover the hook I’ve made on the wire, which in turn will make a nice little pad for the inside of the flower.
Keep any gumpaste you are not working with covered at all times. I’m using cling film/plastic wrap because it sticks together and stops air from drying the gumpaste. You can use any plastic to cover the paste as long as it’s airtight and prevents the air from getting to the paste. Air is kept from the paste because if it dries, it will be unusable.
First, I’m painting a small amount of glue onto the hook, just a very thin coat because too much will make the paste too sticky.
Now I’m shaping the paste around the hook, then making it as flat as I can along the back of the hook. Refer to Video at 00:53
It needs to dry for a while, so I’m using one I made earlier to do the next stage of my bud.
I’m using a small rose petal cutter approximately 1½”/2 cm across for the next part of the bud.
A rose petal cutter doesn’t usually come with a set of sweet pea cutters, but if you’ve been following the videos on my blog starting with the “Gumpaste Rose,” you will no doubt by now have bought a set of rose petal cutters in various sizes.
I know the trend is to make very large flowers, but the size of sweet pea I am making is near enough to its natural size. It’s a good size to practice on, and you can make larger flowers when you get used to handling the gumpaste.
First, I’m using my cornflour/cornstarch bag to dust some onto my working surface.
You can find out how to make a cornflour/cornstarch dusting bag in the Resource Guide. You can find a link to the Resource Guild is at the top of this post.
Cornflour/cornstarch is always used when working with gumpaste.
First, I’m kneading my pink gumpaste and then rolling it out fairly thinly. It’s a little warm where I’m working, so I’ll need to use a little more cornflour/cornstarch, so it doesn’t stick to the board or the rolling pin.
However, I’m making sure I don’t use too much because I could dry out the gumpaste and make it unusable.
I’m cutting just one rose petal and making sure it’s cut cleanly around the edges. I’m not smoothing the petal out with my tools or doing anything with it except for painting it with a thin coat of glue. Refer to Video at 03:12
After dusting my fingers with cornflour/cornstarch, I’ve laid the rose petal on my fingers with the pointed end towards the center of my hand. I’m putting the flat side of the covered hook onto the center and about halfway down the petal. Then I’m folding each side of the petal around the covered hook and pressing the base of both sides gently together. Refer to Video at 03:17
Covering the hook first makes it easier to mount the petal onto it, and it also gives the center of the sweet pea a bit of bulk, which gives it a more natural look.
Once I’ve covered the hook with the petal I’m bending the top slightly backward and then leave it to dry.
The inside of the bud is now dry so I’m cutting another rose petal from my pink gumpaste and putting the rest of the paste into my cling film/plastic wrap.
After dusting a little cornflour on my hand, I’m smoothing out the edge of the petal with my ball tool making it bend upwards then turn it over, so the edge is bending backward slightly.
I work on my hand and fingers a lot because that was how I was taught, and I feel in more control of what I am doing. However, you may feel more comfortable working with your tools on a foam mat. It is a matter of personal preference.
Next, I’m painting some glue down the center and along each side to about ¾ of the way up the petal. Refer to Video at 04:29
Taking the dry center, I’m putting it, flat side down, into the center of the petal and wrapping the petal around so the base of the petal sticks to the center. Make sure the top outer edge of the petal is bending backward slightly. Refer to Video at 05:07
Place it into florists foam to dry, and that’s the finished bud.
I will need six buds for the arrangement.
Making a Full Flower
To make the flower, I need a center (without the added petal) the same as I made for the bud.
I’m using a two-part set of sweet pea cutters, and the largest cutter of the two is approx. 1½ “/3½ cm and the smaller one is 1¼”/3cm across. When I bought my sweet pea cutters I could only buy metal ones, but now plastic ones are available. However, I like the metal cutters because they give a much cleaner cut.
The only drawback with them is that if you press too hard on them, they are inclined to distort, but if you use a plastic disc on top of the cutters when you use them, this is less likely to happen. If you use metal cutters, check before you use them that they are the correct shape.
I’m dusting a little cornflour on my board, my rolling pin, and my fingers because where I’m working, it’s quite warm, so I don’t want the paste sticking to my fingers.
I’m rolling the gumpaste out quite thinly, or the flowers will be too heavy, especially if I put a lot of them together in an arrangement. However, not too thin, or they will break easily.
I’ll cut both pieces of the sweet pea simultaneously and because it’s easier on my fingers, and I’m using the disc of plastic supplied with the cutters. Refer to Video at 07:40
If you are cutting out several petals, keep them under plastic until you need them. Also, wrap up any extra paste you are not using.
When you make flowers, you will discover which tools are your favorite to use in which circumstances. For the next stage, I’m rolling the edges of the smaller petal, and my favorite tool to do this is the handle of a small paintbrush.
You could use a cocktail stick, but before you use it, you may need to smooth it out with some fine sandpaper because a lot of cocktail sticks have ridges on them and will leave marks on the petals.
So, working on the smallest petal first, I’m rolling the edge of the petal with my paintbrush handle around the edge to flute it slightly. Refer to Video at 09:08
Now, I’m painting a little glue in the center of the petal from the pointed bottom to about ¾ of the way up each side of the center split.
Next, I’m placing the center into the petal so that the bottom of the center comes to the bottom of the lower point on the petal and then gently press the sides of the petal onto the center. Refer to Video at 09:41
Once I’ve pressed the petal around the center I’m spreading the petal out slightly and then hanging it upside down to dry. Refer to Video at 09:54
Once the first petal is dry, I’m adding the next petal.
Again, I’m rolling around the edge of the petal with my paintbrush handle to flute it then to give me a guide as to where the center of the petal is I’m marking it with my brush handle.
Now, I’m painting a coat of glue ¾ of the way up the center of the petal. Using the mark, I made as a guide; I’m placing the center on the outer petal, lining up the inner and outer petals with the point at the bottom of the flower and gently pressing the petals together. Refer to Video at 11:00
I will require 18 full flowers for the arrangement
Making the Calyx
To make the calyx, I’ll use some gumpaste, which I’ve colored with gooseberry gel paste.
Knead the paste, roll it out fairly thinly and cut out a calyx with a small star calyx. I’ve used a ¾ “/2 cm star cutter for this size of sweet pea.
Thread the wire of the flower through the center and paint a little glue on the calyx nearest the flower. I’m bringing the calyx up the wire and making sure it sticks to the bottom of the flower. Refer to Video at 12:24
Making the leaves
I’m using small and slightly larger straight-sided leaves for the sweet peas. For each spray, I’ve used two larger leaves at the bottom and two smaller leaves at the top. Refer to Video at 13:42
I’m starting by cutting a leaf out of my green gumpaste then taking a piece of 32g uncovered wire, and starting at the bottom, I’m threading it up the center of the leaf, between the front and back of the gumpaste until it’s about ¾ of the way up the leaf. Refer to Video at 14:30
Then, so the wire doesn’t slip out, I’m giving the leaf a slight bend backward and then pinching the two sides of the base of the leaf slightly together. Refer to Video at 14:48
The gumpaste for the leaves needs to be rolled fairly thinly but not too thin. If it’s rolled too thinly, then you won’t be able to thread the wire up the center of the leaf.
I will require 12 small leaves and 12 large leaves for the arrangement.
Assembling the spray
For each spray, I’ll use one bud, three full flowers, two small leaves, and two large leaves. I need six sprays to make the arrangement.
The first thing I need to do is to cover the wires of the bud, full flowers, and leaves with florist’s tape.
Taping the stems
Unfortunately, if they are covered or uncovered, the wires are slippery and won’t stay in place while assembling the flowers and leaves into the sprays and the sprays into the arrangement.
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.
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.
It may take you a few times of doing this 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. Refer to Video at 16:38
Sweet pea leaves come in pairs, so I’m now taping the two small leaves together by putting the leaves face to face and taping them and then doing the same with the large leaves. Refer to Video at 17:44
Making Ribbon Picks
I also need some ribbon picks to put into my spray.
I will need 12 Ribbon Picks to put into the sprays and 12 extra for final assembly.
To find out how to make a ribbon pick refer to my blog post “How to Make a Gumpaste Blue Blossom Crescent”
Now, I’m assembling my spray by taking the bud and taping on the two small leaves slightly below the top of the bud. Refer to Video at 19:24
I’m now adding two flowers, one on each side, taping them on one at a time. The top of the flowers come to the bottom of the bud.
Now you will begin to see why the stems have been covered with florist’s tape because you can stick the flower in the position you want it, and it won’t slip while you tape it together.
When you tape on each flower, don’t tape it too near the flower head. Leave a little bit of the stem, or it will look very stiff and false. By leaving some of the flower stem before you tape it to the main stem gives the spray a bit of movement, and also you can arrange the flowers easily where you want them.
Next, I’m adding the large leaves in the center. Refer to Video at 20:41
I’m also adding a ribbon pick on the right-hand side. Refer to Video at 20:52
Then another flower to the center and that comes about halfway up the other two flowers. Refer to Video at 21:08
Remember, it’s important that you leave enough of the flower and leaf stem wire to move them around. A mistake most people make is to
tape it onto the main stem very close to the flower, leaving no room for movement. Finally, I’m adding the other ribbon pick.
I haven’t put long wires on the flowers because, by the time I’ve assembled the sprays into an arrangement, the central stem would get very thick and would be very stiff. I want my final arrangement to drape, and you will see why when I have finished it.
That’s the spray completed.
I will require 6 sprays.
Assembling the sprays into an arrangement
I’ve made two sprays in mulberry pink, two in pale mulberry pink, one in violet, and one in pale violet. All the picks are pink, and the leaves are gooseberry green.
Now I’m joining the sprays together into the arrangement.
Starting with the pale violet spray, I’m taping onto it a pale pink spray on the right-hand side of the stem so that the top bud comes halfway up the bottom flower of the first spray. Refer to Video at 24:00
I’m adding another pale pink spray on the left-hand side so that again the top bud comes halfway up the bottom flower of the first spray. I’m pressing the stems together so that while I am taping the stems it will stay in place.
Next, I’m adding a ribbon pick to the back of the pale pink spray and one to the front to fill in the gaps. Refer to Video at 24:54
Now I’m adding a dark violet spray between the pale pink sprays so that the top of the bud comes halfway down the bottom flowers of the pale pink sprays. Refer to Video at 25:30
The flowers are starting to get a bit heavy, so I have to be careful to support them if necessary. I’ve been twisting the stems into the florist’s tape, but as it gets heavier, I shall have to wind the tape onto the stem. Refer to Video at 25:51
I’m adding another ribbon pick onto the main stem to fill in a gap. Refer to Video at 26:16
By now, you will see why I didn’t want a lot of wire from the individual flowers coming down the main stem because even now, it’s getting quite thick. Any thicker and it won’t look very nice, especially on a wedding or even any celebration cake.
Now, I’m adding a dark pink spray on the left-hand side of the stem, and again the top of the bud will come halfway down the last flower on the previous spray, and after I’ve taped that on I’ll tape one onto the right-hand side.
At this stage of assembling the arrangement, you have to be extra careful because if you made the flowers extra-thin there would be a good chance you would break them while taping them all together.
If you are making sweet peas for an exhibition, you would make sure you have a lot of time to be extra careful with the flowers, so making them very thin and delicate wouldn’t be a problem.
However, if you are making them, for example, to go on cakes for your business, you wouldn’t have the time to spend being so very careful with them, and of course, they may not travel on a cake without breaking if you were sending it to a venue.
I’m adding another couple of ribbon picks to fill in any gaps and taping them onto the stem.
Now, I need to trim the stem, but I’m leaving enough wire to put it in the cake. I’m wrapping it very well with the tape so that no wire is left exposed.
My last job is to arrange the flowers so that they are all in the right place, and the leaves are the right way around, and the ribbons fill in the gaps.
The reason why I didn’t want it to have a central stem that was too thick is that I like the flowers to hang on the cake.
That’s the finished arrangement.
Placing the arrangements on a cake
I’ve bent the end of the main stem down relatively near where I finished adding my flowers so that I can plug the stem into the cake and I’ve added a few more ribbon picks at the base of the flowers, and you will see why when I put it on the cake. Refer to Video at 30:15
For this project, I’m using a petal-shaped, fondant covered, two-tier wedding cake, and I’m using two sweet pea arrangements
In preparation, I’ve bent both of the arrangements so that they curve. I want them to come from the top of the cake and curve around the tiers. Refer to Video at 30:30
I need to decide where the center is on the top tier, and I’m going to plug the arrangement straight into the top.
The cakes I’ve used in the Video are English fruit cakes, so they are very solid cakes, and I can plug the arrangements straight into them, and they will stay where I put them. Refer to Video at 31:02
The only thing you must be careful with is to use non-toxic, food-safe florist’s tape when you tape your arrangements. If you are not sure if it is food-safe, then you should put a flower spike into the cake before you add the flowers.
Use a flower spike if you are putting the flowers onto a cream covered cake, so the moisture from the cake doesn’t creep up and spoil the flowers. Refer to Video at 31:20
The first thing I’m doing is to put this into the top tier of the cake. I’ve worked out where the center is of my cake. I’m going to plug the stem straight in, and I’m going to place my finger on the top of the stem and push it right the way into the cake until my finger touches the fondant. Refer to Video at 32:09
Next, I’m curving the arrangement around the cake to the left, and you will see why I curled the stem, so it follows the shape of the cake.
I’m now arranging the flowers, leaves, and ribbon picks until I get them into a position where I think they look their best.
If you look where the arrangement is plugged into the cake, you will see why I added the extra ribbon picks and use them to cover the hole. Refer to Video at 32:26
Remember to make the back of your arrangement look as attractive as the front because the cake may be seen all the way around.
I’m using a petal-shaped cake for this project. I’m putting the second arrangement into the back of one of the petal shapes on the bottom tier, on the opposite side of the cake from where the flowers finish on the top tier. Refer to Video at 34:04
Now, I’m pushing the stem firmly into the cake with my fingers, the same as I did with the top tier until they touch the fondant icing.
Once I’ve done that, I’m bringing the flowers around to the right, following the curve of the cake, and arranging them in their correct place. Refer to Video at 34:33
Now I have two beautiful arrangements placed on my wedding cake