Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gum Paste Flowers for Beginners

One of the fabulous perks of working with lots of guys is that when I bake things, I have a whole group of taste testers to experiment with feed.

Gum Paste Flowers

Excuse the bright colours, I made these cupcakes for a summer BBQ at a co-worker's house. The cupcakes were just a plain vanilla (made ultra-delicious with some Caribbean vanilla) but some butter cream icing and a few gum paste flowers as decoration make them much more exciting. 

Gum Paste Ingredients
Unlike last time, I slightly modified the directions on the back of the Wilton Gum-Tex container.

Start by dissolving 1 Tbsp Gum-Tex in 4 Tbsp of warm water. I did this in a heat-proof glass bowl on the stove. I kept the element on very low and proceeded to dissolve the 1 Tbsp of corn syrup and some of the icing sugar. 

Keep stirring as you continue to dissolve icing sugar into the dough. The dough should become thicker and less sticky as you proceed, and the warm element makes it easy to work with. Around three cups of icing sugar were dissolved into the mixture, but be careful it doesn't get too hot. 

I added some food colouring at this point - yellow seemed bright and sunny for flowers. Seal in an air-tight plastic bag for at least six hours or overnight. This allows the Gum-Tex to achieve maximum stretch. I did try working it without letting it rest, but it was nearly impossible to roll and shape. 

Once the dough has sufficiently rested, knead a small section with more icing sugar until it is no longer sticky to the touch. Roll the small piece with a rolling pin, but make sure all surfaces are well dusted with icing sugar.  

I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to form the petals. I purchased a kit for shaping gum paste, including the funky tool you see in the pictures. Flatten the edges of the petals with the tool (I bet a small spoon would work?) 

Glue the petals together at the small point of the heart for form the flowers. I use a mixture of corn syrup and water as adhesive, but proper gum paste glue can be made using this recipe. Drop the glued-together petals into a cup dusted with icing sugar (I used a mini-muffin pan) to shape the flowers. Adjust the petals with your fingers until you are happy with the look, and then allow to dry overnight. 

What do you think? Too much work for a few silly decorations? 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Painting T-Shirts: An Experiment in Patience

Eight months ago, I must have been an ambitious person. I must have thought to myself: I have no need of free time ever again! I must have assumed what little social life I have wouldn't interfere with volunteering myself to design almost six dozen T-Shirts for an upcoming family reunion. S just thinks I'm crazy.
Hand Painted T-Shirts

This weekend we are travelling about eleven hours to Mont Tremblant, Quebec, to attend a large family reunion. It will be a weekend of fun, excitement, activities, and wine. In a moment of insanity, I volunteered to make personalized shirts for every attending member.

Designing them was the easy part. I used photo editing software (but it's just as easy to use a word processing program) to pick the font and style of the text. I used an art knife to carefully cut out the letters - which takes a lot longer than you might think! Luckily, I was able to monopolize various members of my family to help with cutting out, including S who spent two days cutting stencils. For the front stencils, I used a thick plastic so they would be reusable, but otherwise the paper stencils are single use only.

I used a re-positionable spray adhesive to fix the stencils to the t-shirts. Using spray adhesive makes for nice clean lines, really crisp images and a very sharp result. Overspray is easily cleaned up with rubbing alcohol.

Wait for the spray adhesive to dry before pressing it onto the shirt - this way, it doesn't leave lots of goopy glue marks on the shirt which you would later have to remove with rubbing alcohol. Different types of stencils dry faster than others (the plastic ones take a couple minutes, whereas the paper ones dry almost instantly).

Instead of buying expensive fabric paints, I used acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is water soluble, but permanent in fabric and other textiles once it dries. Give it a 24-hour curing time just to be safe.

Once you're done, carefully peel the stencil off the shirt. If it's not exactly what you hoped for, you have a few minutes to tweak it before the paint sets. Use a paintbrush dipped in water to carefully clean up any messy areas (you'll need lots of water, but be careful not to disturb the areas you like!) or a paintbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean up any areas where the spray adhesive has transferred to the fabric.

Let it dry, and then you're ready to wear your fabulous new shirt! Can you imagine doing 68 of these for a family reunion? S is right - I must be insane.

This was an amazing family reunion - I got to reconnect with relatives, meet new additions to the family, and introduce S to everyone he will soon be related to.

After the family reunion, we headed to Parc National du Mont Tremblant, a really wonderful national park in the heart of Quebec. Three gloriously rainy days later, we found ourselves wandering around the heart of Montreal in anticipation of Wicked - the fabulous fabulous fabulous musical S bought tickets for as a birthday present. Who knew he'd put up with three hours of singing, dancing and costumes for me?

As for me, I'm far too wired for sleep (and singing Wicked songs under my breath, poor S). Tomorrow we have another 8 hour drive ahead of us, and will hopefully find ourselves in Waterloo to visit some cousins and have a (hopefully) successful interview with the university!

Sorry to those who complain I should update more (I'm talking to you Mark) but I haven't been home in forever. More updates to follow.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Save the Date!

It's official!

We're getting hitched!

We booked the church, the hall, the decorator and the groom. All we need are some dancing shoes and a bucket of champagne!

L & S: 2014