How to Paint Wafer Paper With Petal Dust

make a pretty painted effect on cakes

I’ve had a few customers send me photos of cakes that have wafer paper flowers with painted smudges on and around the flowers. (After doing some hunting online, I think that the original was made by Maggie Austin Cakes.)

One customer asked if I could make the flowers, but the problem with that is that it looked like the flowers were painted after they were on the cake. 

I wouldn’t be able to make flowers and match the colors on the cake if I colored them before they were applied to the fondant, but I told the customer that I would give it a try.

cutting out wafer paper flowers

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Paint the wafer paper flowers.

I started with liquid food colors.

I had to use a very dry brush since I was using the wafer, but I still didn’t like the way the flowers looked. 

On top of that, it was difficult preventing the flowers from shrinking because of the moisture.

I switched to petal dusts and piping gel after the liquid colors didn’t pan out the way I expected. 

I also designed some watercolor-y wafer paper sheets to cut out flowers that would start with a variation of color on them so that they wouldn’t need as much color.

watercolor wafer paper

After a little trial and error, I found two methods that worked to get the effect I was looking for.

The piping gel method.

piping gel on wafer paper

First, I painted the printed wafer paper with piping gel and let it dry overnight. 

When the petal dust was brushed onto the dried gel, it created a darker look because of the way the gel held the dust.

brushed wafer paper with petal dust

The dark area in this photo shows where the piping gel had been applied to the paper, dried, then had petal dust brushed onto it. 

The lighter area directly above the dark blue edge is what the untreated paper was brushed with the petal dust. 

It was obvious that the color is going to be more intense by using the piping gel.

So one way to get the darker petal dust color would be to paint the fondant on the cake with piping gel in order to “grip” the color when it’s applied. 

But drying it made it a little more difficult to have the color stick.

Because of that, I tried applying the piping gel to the cake, then applying the color to the wet gel. 

petal dust on piping gel on a cake

That actually gave me the effect that I was looking for, with the wet gel grabbing the color very nicely but still looking kind of patchy. 

So that would be one way to get the look. But then you have to include the flowers…

piping gel paint on the cake

So I did the same thing, but I attached the flowers to the wet gel, but only after rubbing some piping gel on to the flowers themselves so that they could get the color to stick as well. 

That worked pretty well, but there was a decent amount of fall-off of the dust onto the tier below.

Making paint from piping gel and petal dust.

I decided to see if I could make paint out of the piping gel and the petal dust to avoid the dust spreading around as it’s applied to the cake.

piping gel and petal dust paint

Combining the piping gel and the petal dust made a good paint as far as the color went, but I still liked the dry dust brushed onto the wet gel better because it was more organic-looking. 

Maybe a combination of doing both would work to give a little of each effect.

piping gel paint on the cake

The one thing to know about using the piping gel as a paint medium is that it’s tremendously sticky. 

You’ll need a bunch of paintbrushes because they get sticky quickly, and you’ll have to clean them frequently. 

When they’re wet, you can’t use dry petal dust on them, so just have a lot of extra brushes ready to go.

If you have a light touch you’ll probably be able to do this with liquid colors, but the petal dust gives you a bit of texture too, which is nice.

The drawback with using piping gel is that the flowers have a tacky feeling to them even after they dry, so it’s not going to be something that you can make ahead of time. 

You’ll need to decorate the flowers and cake at the same time to give them a cohesive appearance.

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