How to Paint on Fondant With Petal Dust

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I've had a few customers send me photos of cakes that have wafer paper flowers with painted smudges on and around the flowers. (After doing some hunting online, I think that the original was made by Maggie Austin Cakes.)

One customer asked if I could make the flowers, but the problem with that is that it looked like the flowers were painted after they were on the cake. I wouldn't be able to make flowers and match the colors on the cake if I colored them before they were applied to the fondant.
Punched-out wafer paper flowers

I told the customer I would try it anyway, and I started with liquid food colors.

I had to use a very dry brush since I was using the wafer, but I still didn't like the way the flowers looked. On top of that, it was difficult preventing the flowers from shrinking because of the moisture.

I switched to petal dusts and piping gel after the liquid colors didn't pan out the way I expected. I also designed some watercolor-y wafer paper sheets to cut out flowers that would start with a variation of color on them so that they wouldn't need as much color.


After a little trial and error, I found two methods that worked to get the effect I was looking for.

First, I painted the printed wafer paper with piping gel and let it dry overnight. When the petal dust was brushed onto the dried gel, it created a darker look because of the way the gel held the dust.

Painted with piping gel


The dark area in this photo shows where the piping gel had been applied to the paper, dried, then had petal dust brushed onto it. The lighter area directly above the dark blue edge is what the untreated paper was brushed with the petal dust. It was obvious that the color is going to be more intense by using the piping gel.

So one way to get the darker petal dust color would be to paint the fondant on the cake with piping gel in order to "grip" the color when it's applied. But drying it made it a little more difficult to have the color stick.

Because of that, I tried applying the piping gel to the cake, then applying the color to the wet gel. That actually gave me the effect that I was looking for, with the wet gel grabbing the color very nicely but still looking kind of patchy. 

Petal dust applied directly to the wet piping gel.

So that would be one way to get the look. But then you have to include the flowers...

So I did the same thing, but I attached the flowers to the wet gel, but only after rubbing some piping gel on to the flowers themselves so that they could get the color to stick as well. That worked pretty well, but there was a decent amount of fall-off of the dust onto the tier below.

I decided to see if I could make paint out of the piping gel and the petal dust to avoid the dust spreading around as it's applied to the cake.

Piping gel and petal dust paint


Petal dust/piping gel paint
Combining the piping gel and the petal dust made a good paint as far as the color went, but I still liked the dry dust brushed onto the wet gel better because it was more organic-looking. Maybe a combination of doing both would work to give a little of each effect.

Piping gel paint on the cake
The one thing to know about using piping gel as a paint medium is that it's tremendously sticky. You'll need a bunch of paintbrushes because they get sticky quickly, and you'll have to clean them frequently. When they're wet, you can't use a dry petal dust on them, so just have a lot of extra brushes ready to go.

If you have a light touch you'll probably be able to do this with liquid colors, but the petal dusts give you a bit of texture too, which is nice.

The drawback with using piping gel is that the flowers have a tacky feeling to them even after they dry, so it's not going to be something that you can make ahead of time. You'll need to decorate the flowers and cake at the same time to give them a cohesive appearance.

Have you done a cake in this style? Any tips about how to get the look? If you've done a cake with this style of painting and flowers, send me a photo and I'll post it on my business Facebook page with a link to your page!




Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Join my facebook group for home-based business owners at https://www.facebook.com/groups/HomeBasedBusinessAndEtsyTips/

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