This posting was inspired by one of my website’s visitors named Joan who wanted to know how to preserve and showcase her special gumpaste pieces. I realized that this subject is way overdue for me to address, especially since I’ve mentioned that you can save your gumpaste and/or a mixture of gumpaste and fondant creations as keepsake pieces. Because of its longevity, this is one of the reasons I’m such a huge fan of this sugar medium over modeling chocolate (Gumpaste/Fondant vs. Modeling Chocolate).
So, I’m going to share with you the way I have been preserving and storing my gumpaste and gumpaste/fondant pieces. I hope it will give you some insight on how to preserve your special creations for many years to come.
Make Sure It Is “Dry”!!!
I always make sure my keepsakes are completely free of moisture before storing them!!! I’m sorry I cannot tell you what exact atrocities that will occur if you ignore this well-known sugarcrafting directive, as I’m reluctant to take one for the team, meaning that I’m unwilling to sacrifice any of my creations to find out. So, I will venture a speculation here that any trapped moisture may soften these piece(s) which could ruin its structural integrity. Bottom line is it important to be patient and don’t rush the drying process.
Keep Your Pieces/Objects Out of Direct Sunlight or Bright Light
Sadly, gumpaste/fondant pieces will fade if placed in a bright location. So, whether you are displaying or storing the keepsakes, try to always minimize the amount of light they are subjected to.
Showcasing Gumpaste/Fondant Keepsakes
So, what should you do if you would like to display these pieces? I suggest placing them somewhere that is reasonably safe like a curio cabinet that is located in a shaded area. An added bonus for this location is it will help protect them from collecting dust. If it is just one special topper you could also showcase it in a glass dome or glass garden cloche (aka bell jar) keeping it out of direct sunlight. You can also discreetly hide moisture absorbing silica gel packets in these enclosed places. You can then just take your pieces out on special occasions to display them. I like I do this with the gumpaste/fondant Christmas ornament I made for my granddaughter’s first Christmas. I bring it out in December and then I pack it away right after the new year begins.
Give Them a Comfortable Environment
Find a cool, dry place to store them. I guess you could say they are like humans because they are not big fans of too much heat and/or humidity! Oops, when I first started out I was rather naïve in this department, so I placed mine in a rather hot closet. Fortunately for me they did make it even with this apparent mistreatment in regards to their creature comforts. If you are like me and live in a small home you may only have a finite amount of storage space that meets these special requirements. So, sometimes I am forced to put some of my pieces in a warmer place than I would like (but at least in a closet they are dry and dark). Will this impact them? Only time will tell.
Long Time Storage Containers For Keepsakes
I like to store my pieces in clear plastic boxes with tight-fitting lids. I have read others keep theirs in cardboard boxes so that they can “breathe”. If you live in an extremely humid local this might be a very prudent choice. I cannot weigh in on this as I live in Irvine, California where humidity is not often an issue, so this is going to be your call.
BTW, back in 2011 before I had read the admonishments about not placing my keepsake pieces in an airtight container, I did just that. Pictured below is my first creation: a gumpaste poinsettia. As you can see it is still being stored as it was then in the original little airtight Rubbermaid Take Away container. I think it still looks pretty good :D!
If you happen to find any plastic containers with the perfect dimensions I suggest you buy them immediately. These are bins that stack nicely and hold just the right amount of pieces for your needs. You don’t want to hesitate and experience what I did and discover these perfect gumpaste preservers were no longer being manufactured. I decided then not to take any chances and now I’m the proud owner of an eclectic array of mismatched-sized containers.
How to Pack
Just as when a gumpaste/fondant piece is freshly made it should be handled with care. These keepsake pieces will become more delicate with age, so you will want to give them a soft, cushioned home. There are many ways to achieve this such as packing them in bubble wrap, tissue paper, etc. Or try out one of my favorites which is a soft plastics trash or grocery baggie which will gently caress the piece while at the same time provide nice support. You can also cut these bags down to accommodate the size of your piece. I also find it useful to pack any tiny flowers, objects, etc. into their own special little containers (see picture above) within the larger plastic storage bin.
If you have applied “full-strength” confectioner’s glaze to the piece(s) you may want to put a piece of parchment paper between it and the packing material so it will not have a chance to stick.
My advice is to always pack it right the first time because that little bit of extra care could save you lots of grief later on, especially when you consider the time you have already invested in making your masterpiece.
I guess the elephant in the room for me is the “humidity” factor because, as I stated above, I have little to no experience with it. However, if I were ever to live somewhere where it is a problem these are the things I would try to avoid complications. The first is to use RTU gumpaste since each batch will contain the same consistent formulation which is unlike homemade where the ingredients can possibly vary. I’m going to assume since the ready-to-use Squires Kitchen Sugar Florist Paste is manufactured in Great Britain where they have some humidity issues that they have accounted for this in their gumpaste. I would definitely take extra special steps to make sure the pieces were completely dry, so I would be totally onboard going the extra mile by using a dehydrator before storing any item. Okay, depending how desperate I was I might even buy a room dehumidifier for the area where I work! I would certainly do trial runs and try both types of storage containers, cardboard and airtight, but if I was using airtight ones I would definitely invest in plenty of silica gel desiccant packets.
Spraying Keepsakes with Clear Lacquer Spray. Should you spray your keepsake with clear craft lacquer spray to preserve it? I know many do this with their “show” cookies, but this is gumpaste/fondant which is a different medium, so it makes me uneasy to recommend it. Personally, the only way I would try this is if I wanted my finished piece to have a shiny finish (yes, I know it is also available in matte finish too). But at that point I would have already given it a coating of edible glaze or spray which, although I don’t know this for a fact, probably provides the piece with some type of protection. However, if you want to try this technique and/or have already done so I would love to hear about your results and I will be sure to pass them on to our fellow gumpasters :D.
Add a Little Insurance. Since I use relatively airtight containers anytime I stumble upon one of those little desiccant packs (included in vitamins, shoes, dried fruit, snack foods, etc.) I immediately recycle them by placing them inside of my plastic boxes. FYI: If you aren’t using airtight boxes this will be totally in vain since they can only properly do their job of absorbing moisture if they are used within small enclosed areas.
Keep It Clean. If a keepsake piece has previously been placed directly onto a frosted cake be sure to carefully wipe/brush off any of the remaining icing on its surface. Do not use any water to try and clean it off. What I do as an extra precaution (whenever possible) is place a piece of parchment paper between the topper and the layer of icing to safeguard it. However, if I should manage to get any icing on a piece after cleaning it I then let it dry for a couple of days before trying to store it.