In my previous article How to Make Gumpaste Dusty Miller Leaves - Part 1 I explained how to create basic dusty miller leaves. Now it’s time to gussy them up.
The Finishing Touches
Usually you would want your leaves to have some type of sheen or be shiny, but not with dusty miller leaves. The hardest part for me was trying to figure out how to give them their characteristic “dusty” appearance. That is when I remembered that my gumpasting hero, Alan Dunn, had used a treatment on Eucalyptus leaves in which he dipped them into a ¼ strength glaze recipe and then over-dusted them “very generously” with white petal dust.
So, I proceeded to make a ¼ strength glaze with 1 part of CK Products Confectioner’s Glaze and 3 parts 190-proof Everclear, but unlike Alan I painted it on with a disposable paint brush since I found it easier to apply than doing the dipping thing. I then stuck it into a piece of foam to dry.
If you have not used confectioner’s glaze before you may not be aware that once it dries it still has a slight tacky feeling to it. In this case that is a good thing as it helps the petal dust adhere more firmly.
Coloring With Petal Dust
When dusting my leaves I decided that applying pure white petal dust alone wouldn’t give me the coloring I was looking for, so to give it some extra depth I added just a tiny bit of Sugarflair Shadow Grey petal dust. Before you start I would suggest you experiment on a spare piece(s) of gumpaste to find the right combination before you actually start using it on one of your nicely formed leaves. I found that if you add too much gray it looks kind of unnatural, i.e. a little dirty (sigh).
The Dusty Miller Stem: Whether or not you have used just white wire or wire wrapped with white floral tape to make the stem thicker (which I ultimately did later), dusting with white & gray petal dust is needed to color the stems.
A Dusting Tip: I found that you will have much better control of how much petal dust is applied if you “tap, tap, tap” it on with the very tip of your brush rather than brushing it on in the usual manner. This tapping technique allows for more dust to adhere to the surface which is what gives it the nice dusty appearance.
Here is how I colored mine: I started by coloring the backside with a mostly white (I had added a smidgen of gray) petal dust. On the front side I then applied some gray into the central vein. I then over-dusted the whole leaf with some more of the white dust with the tiny amount of gray. I then added some random touches of gray on the leaf edges and reapplied some more gray into the base of the central vein. If there were any patches of excess dust I very gently tapped the leaf to remove it. Since I didn’t want any shiny patches of glaze to remain I double checked that I had covered the whole leaf’s surface.
Two Final Suggestions
I hate when this happens but inevitably, after I’ve done a few pieces, there are things I find that I want to change. The first thing I decided was to add some white floral tape to thicken my stems before I added any coloring to the leaf. The second consideration I found was that by adding just a tiny bit of Sugarflair Shadow Eucalyptus dust into the gray and white petal dust mixture I used when dusting my stem allowed the stem to actually blend more into the gumpaste leaf as it does in real life.
I hope that after reading this tutorial you don’t just tuck it away somewhere and let it gather dust, but that it inspires you to start using gumpaste dusty miller leaves on your cakes. And if you do make some I would love to see them!