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Sugar Sculpture, were edible diamonds were born!

 

Sugar Diamonds

Sugar Diamonds

Thought I would share one of my old but lovely creations with you, I learnt so much from doing this, and it’s amazing to see were things lead, sometimes it’s not about the money but the experience. This is how edible diamonds were born.

 

The Team!

The Team!

In 2003 I was approached to come up with some ideas and designs for a show cake for the British Sugarcraft Guild International Exhibition, called “Creative World of Sugar” to be held July 2004 I had the inspiration for this project walking around my local garden centre Webbs of Wychbold and wondered how I could create an edible water feature, as water and sugar don’t mix. I sketched several designs but the one that court the British sugarcraft guilds national committees’ eye was of a full size water fountain.

I was a little worried this project would be too big for just me to create as I found out I was pregnant and the dimensions were 6  ½ feet tall by 4 feet wide so I pulled in some very talented friends to help, they were Pat Russell, Steven Kirkby, Clegg Lyster, June Walker, Linda Thacker and myself. So the first collaboration that I know of in the world was created with 6 people putting their creative mines together to make something amazing in sugar.

Before the first meeting with the team I did some research with Tombi Peck. {who has been a huge inspiration to me over the years} We looked through books on the history of sugar craft and techniques used which was an eye opener for me.  After speaking to Tombi I felt that the techniques should be kept simple and less confusing to the eye with so much going on.  I also asked Nick Nicoleno about creating the water from pulled sugar he thought that in his vast experience the pulled sugar would not last for the two days of the show, so we had to think of another solution, Tombi came up with the idea of boiled sweets. 

I set a date for our first team meeting which was 13th July 2003 they travelled from all over England. The first problem was where the project would be based?  Clegg kindly offered to let us use her spare rooms downstairs! In Droitwich spa, which was central for everyone.

After our first meeting the team thought that it would be easier to use sugar paste after considering all the options of different edible medians. We decided to build the skeleton of the structure in wood, we had this made and delivered to Cleggs house. Clegg covered the panels’ of the water basin with sugarpaste, then textured with a bath sponge to look like stone. Pat embossed the creative world of sugar 2004 logo into the centre of each panel. we had to brake the design down into sections so it could be crated and then put together like a jigsaw, This entailed a lot of measuring and calculating to get it spot on.

Sugar Fish and Mack

Sugar Fish and Mack

It was decided that the central block above the water basin would be made from polystyrene. Four boards were covered and mounted onto the polystyrene, two being of fish the others of masks  and placed opposite one another.  June created the fish by putting a bolt through the board and moulding wire mess into the basic fish shape, and then covered with the sugar paste.  Steve created the masks by making a mould and then made thick ivy leaves to look like stone to go around the masks to add detail.  Both June and Steve inserted straws in the mouths, to represent the pipe in which the water would flow out of in a real water feature.  

Water ripples; I experimented with several techniques to create the water ripples, the most effective method was to roll out a flat piece of sugar paste and to use sugar glue to glue it onto the false base at the same time moulding with the finger and thumb to smooth and create the ringlets of the ripples.  Steve suggested putting Trex on top of the ringlets to highlight them so when it was air brushed the colour wouldn’t settle giving depth to the water. blue and black   airbrush colour was used  for  the water and a confectioner’s glaze was sprayed over the top to give the effect of real shimmering water. SHOW CAKE PHOTOS 2004 (34)

The original sculpture design included a figurine on the top.  Pat was excited at the prospect of making an elegant Victorian lady or Grecian figure in flowing robes. The idea of three swimming dolphins evolved as the main Structure developed.  Pat had made many human figures but never anything like this. Pat said “the crude shapes I constructed from chicken wire and then packed with newspaper did not look promising!” As Pat started to build up the shapes with modelling paste the dolphins were born, with tails upwards on stylised waves, each on an individual stand for flexibility in their arrangement. The base for the
stylised waves was curls of chicken wire and cardboard. A total of 11lbs of sugarpaste and most of an 85g pot of Tylopur was used for making the dolphins. The sculpture needed to be visually pleasing from all angles.
  For days the model sat on a tall stool on top of a table in Pats kitchen and was re-arranged countless times before settling on the final formation of the dolphins at 18” tall.

 Ideas were discussed for the flowing water, piping gel, pulled sugar and boiled sweets were options.  I contacted Fox’s Glazier The Sugar Water!mints to find out how their product would react in contact with sugar and if you were able to melt them.  They were very helpful and came back with vary useful information.  I was told to melt the sweets in a bowl in the microwave on a low setting so not to overheat or burn. It was suggested that Teflon moulds should be used or Teflon sheets which you can get from most cookery shops.  The melted sweets needed to be poured onto the Teflon sheet and moulded as required. Glucose Syrup, which is an ingredient of the sweets, would attract any moisture in the air and that would cause it to melt or otherwise known as cold flow.  Cold flow which is caused due to changes of temperature or a damp atmosphere; covering the sweets with carnauba wax can prevent this from happening.  I found the carnauba wax vary hard to use so I coated the sweets with confessionary glaze, which proved to be very successful.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

When SHOW CAKE PHOTOS 2004 (19)all the pieces were put together like a jigsaw, Linda and son Alex arrived at Cleggs to airbrush the feature bringing in the samples of what had been done Linda had several attempts of making the Cotswold stone effect; it proved to be a problem because white could not be added to the airbrush colours as it is a little thick to go through the airbrush.  I was not present at the time of air brushing so that evening I phoned Clegg to see how it went, Clegg didn’t seem very positive about the colour and explained that it looked great when Linda, Alex and Steve left.  Airbrushing such a big object meant that there were particles of colour air bound, so as time went on particles settled and the colour went darker, or should I say orange. When I arrived at Cleggs the next day I thought it looked ok, in a wiry voice she said “I’ve washed it all down with a wet cloth and a dry towel”. Thank you Clegg.  

Transportation of the sugar sculpture was yet another hurdle, the sculpture was just 1 ½ inches too big to fit into the back of any car! Lesson learnt! We had special boxes made for all the separate parts and ended up with a convoy of different vehicles driving down the motorway.

 The project took twelve months to create and somewhere in the middle of all this I delivered a baby son. Now it’s all over and the project put together it doesn’t seem such a big challenge.  My thanks to everyone who took part, without them it would not have been possible. Once the show was over it then went into storage and reappeared at cake international in November 2004 then it live the rest of its life in a local museum before hitting the skip! the fountain was nearly in the Guinness book of records but be used central supports so it just missed out.

We all learn so such and looking back and comparing the fountain to the collaborations of today it doesn’t seen that great, but it was pioneering back then.

This is were my idea for edible diamonds came from if you would like to no more about edible diamonds please visit my other Blog over at http://blog.createandcraft.tv/adding-diamonds-cake/#more-4067

 Sugar Diamonds

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