I have a big cake that's going to involve a ton of gumpaste flowers coming up in April, so I've started making the flowers already.
In the process of looking at my gumpaste porn, which is how I refer to the book and magazine instructions for gumpaste flowers that I've collected over the years, I kept running into the instructions for making stamens out of thread. I thought I'd give it a try since I hadn't done stamens that way for a while.
Some flowers, like cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, peonies, clematis, wild roses, anemones, and poppies, have a lot of stamens. Sometimes it's more economical to make them out of thread than it is to buy them pre-made. (Although not always...See my last entry about buying stamens on ebay!)
This is a fairly mindless activity that you can do while you're sitting watching tv in the evening. Start by wrapping thread around two fingers to form a loop.
Next, twist the loop into a figure eight. (You can also do this by wrapping a wire around either end of the loop and then cutting the loop in half to make two centers, but I think that the figure eight is more secure.)
After that, twist a thin wire tightly around the twist of the figure eight to hold the thread in place, and wrap the wire around itself.
Cut the loops off of the thread loop, leaving as much length as you want for the type of center that you're making.
At this point you'll need to turn the tv off and go into the kitchen, or somewhere else that you have a counter, because the dusting colors are coming out and it could get messy.
Mix up some gum glue using water and tylose or gumtex, and dip the tips of the stamen into it. If you want the entire stamen to be stiff, you can dip the entire thing into the glue.
Dip the tips of the thread into the color dust that you want for that particular stamen, and then use a toothpick to separate any threads that are sticking together. You want to get a feathery look, so the threads should be separated.
Let the stamens set up, then use them to make the flowers. I put one in a little blossom for this example. If you're using them for poppies or any other flower that has a large center with the stamens surrounding it, you should find a photo of the flower to see how you should arrange them. Those might not even need to be dipped into the gum glue, since the configuration is different.
If you need a stamen that doesn't spread out so much, just tape the base of the threads so that they're more upright.