Creating a Garden
Vibrant reds, pinks and yellow roses, blend with delicate white flowers, and rich green foliage. A breath taking display of beauty, right at the foot of one of Sydney greatest technical achievements.
The simple, timeless beauty of the roses reminds us that while we are constantly evolving, and innovating, we also need to appreciate the natural world, and stop to smell the roses.
I continue to have an overwhelmingly flattering response to my Palace Rose Garden artwork, that I created for the 2015 Sydney Cake Bake and Sweets show.
I've had so many questions about it, that I thought I would show you all how I made a Garden out of Buttercream on canvas (and how it stayed there!)
Structure is a term you'll hear a lot about in Cake Decorating. It can be anything from wires inside modelled figures, to welded piping in Gravity Defying cakes.
When it came to constructing this artwork, I had NO idea what it would need (I don't generally hang Buttercream on wall!), so I thought about what I DIDN'T want to happen.
Firstly, I didn't want hours of piping to fall off the wall. I was not certain what kind of conditions the work would be in, would it be hot? So I played it safe, and used a shortening Buttercream, which is basically the same as my Basic Buttercream Recipe, but exchanging Copha (shortening) for butter. Not only is it very temperature stable, but it won't give off a not so fresh butter smell after 3 days on a wall. For a bit of showmanship, I added edible rose and lavender scent, to add to the experience (plus it smelled nice!)
Secondly, I knew that piped flowers, even ones without thick bases like mine, tend to be heavy, and chances were, gravity would take them out. Part of the problem would be that they wouldn't 'dry' completely. So here's where the structure came in.
I hot glued some small pieces of wood (the corner bracers that came with the frame) to the canvas at a 45 degree angle. This would help add dimension to the work, as well as support some of the larger Roses, as well as let them lift to dry underneath.
Now hot glue shouldn't be used next something you would eat, but this artwork was to be made of edible items, be not to be eaten. If this were a cake, I could much easier build dimension, but a dead flat surface needs a little help!
I knew I wanted a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background, so I roughly marked that in, which also gave me the dimensions of each block of Roses. I knew I wanted 4 colours, in varying sizes, and by looking at the available space, I could judge how many I would need.
I pre piped all of the Roses, giving them time to dry out as much as possible. Yes, shortening Roses will actually dry almost completely, which apart from making them easier to handle, also makes them lighter in weight.
Once they were dry, I dusted them with petal dust, much the same way as you would with Sugar Roses, to give them more depth.
Since my drawing skills are woeful at best, I enlisted the help of my husband to sketch me a Harbour Bridge, and transfer it to the canvas for me to pipe over. Once dry, I painted the bridge with two shades of metallic silver food safe paint.
I actually completed the artwork 4 days before the show, and stood it up on it's side, just to make sure! After 3 days on a wall, only one Rose came off, and that's pretty good odds!
What I learned
Creating this artwork created more than one piece of art, it started my future. I really didn't understand what was possible with Buttercream before this, and have never seen an impediment since.
Creating the Palace Rose Garden in Buttercream made me face what I can do, and what I want. This project marked the first time I ever called myself an Artist, and started me expecting more of what I create.
I wholeheartedly encourage all of you to test your Artistic limits. Don't listen to the voice that says you can't, spread your wings, and some Buttercream while you're at it ;)
Viva La Buttercream xx