I apologize to anyone out there, reading this blog, who has great experience and expertise with sugar art. We are amateurs. We are everyday people whose knowledge is 100% on the job training. It is nerve-wracking and frustrating with a huge panic factor, and yet, extremely rewarding. So I apologize if we sound like bumbling idiots, it’s only because we are.
There is a hurry-up/not-yet element to working with gum paste. Gum paste dries very quickly on the outside, but takes days to dry on the inside. You have to be very patient. You can’t try to make gum paste roses, no matter how excited you are, before the centers are dry. How do I know that, you ask? Ummmmm….I guess I realized it when my poor little roses started falling off their wires as they hung to dry. I was so excited to make them, too excited to “stick to the rules.” Not to be a nag, but again, “stick to the rules” and the rules say, let your centers dry sufficiently before you try to make a rose. This is also an important rule to remember in the timing of the project. Ummmmm…..making gum paste roses for a wedding cake doesn’t work if you wait until the day the project is due. Don’t ask me how I know that. Come on people…..there are just some things that are too embarrassing to write about.
I think that I’ve heard that the most successful people are the ones who don’t know their limitations. Now, I’m not saying that Megan and I are immensely successful. The point that I’m trying to make is that I think that we have been able to move ahead with this whole process because we didn’t know our limitations. As a matter of fact, when I look back now, I wonder what I was thinking that first time that we got a request to make gum paste roses for a wedding. We were so excited when we got the request. The woman who contacted us said that she was able to do the wedding cake for her cousin but wondered if we could do some gum paste roses to decorate it. Megan, “Mama, can we do gum paste roses for a wedding?” Me, “Surrrrrrrrrrrre, no problem.” So we take on projects, not knowing our limitations and then we get in the middle of the project (there’s that blank stare at each other, again, with the hint of panic in the air) and realize that we have no choice but to plow ahead.
This is a picture of my very first gum paste rose. You won’t see his picture anywhere else but here. Sorry little fella,’ isn’t he?! This was back before I really knew how to mix color, or even how to get the color that I wanted. His color is splotchy and he looks like he’s made from sand instead of powdered sugar. Notice that there is no wire sticking out to put floral tape on. That’s because he fell off the wire. I managed to grab him before the petals bent and broke and laid him on my styrofoam drying rack. I keep him on my microwave in my kitchen, you know, kind of like a reminder, to remind us of how far we’ve come. It keeps me humble….and patient with myself, which, I like to think, translates pretty well to life. One of the things that I love in life are “amazing success stories from humble beginnings.” Now, please don’t misunderstand….we are beginners, we are not immensely successful….but compared to my first little rose, I like to think that we’ve had a measure of success in our efforts to make gum paste roses. Well, at least they don’t fall off the wires anymore.
I think that it’s probably best that Megan and I don’t have any formal training. That way, we won’t have anyone telling us, “You can’t do it that way.” Don’t misunderstand, there is great benefit in formal training for many things, but when you don’t have the opportunity or advantages of formal training, you can’t let that stifle your dreams. Sometimes you have to make the rules as you go and find out what works. So, we’ll stick to the rules, but they’re our rules…….