Our gumpaste fall leaves tutorial this week shows you how to apply and blend a range dust colors to celebrate the glorious kaleidoscope of color that the autumn season brings – from lime greens to yellows to blazing orange and russet red.
Unusually for leaves, we don’t actually start out with green gumpaste – rather we start with a light beige tone. If you start with green as your base color, the leaves won’t take the yellow, orange and red dust colors that we apply later.
Oak leaves and maple leaves are my personal favorite for fall leaves but you can choose any leaf shape you wish.
Gumpaste Fall Leaves Tutorial: Materials
- Beige gumpaste (if you start with the usual leaf green color, the leaves won’t take the yellow, orange and red dusts colors very well)
- Food dust colors: shades of lime green, yellow, orange, red, brown
- 24 or 26-guage brown paper-covered wires cut into quarters (or green wires taped brown after you’ve completed the leaves)
- Edible glue
- Twig tape (a lighter shade of brown than the chocolate brown floristry tape)
- Leaf cutter of your choice
- Leaf veiner or failing that a Dresden tool for marking veins
- Rolling pin
- Foam pad
- Ball tool
- Cocktail for brown speckled effects
- Scriber tool
- Dust colors: lime green, a dark green, yellow, orange, mustard/gold, red, brown
Gumpaste Fall Leaves Tutorial: How-To
- To make the gumpaste leaves, start by rolling your gumpaste into a sausage shape and then roll it out over a greased veining board.
- Place your cutter over each vein and cut out your leaf shapes.
- (If you don’t have a veining board, simply place your sausage of gumpaste horizontally on your work surface. Using your rolling pin, roll the gumpaste away from you. Keep the edge closest to you a bit thicker to insert the wire, then roll the edge furthest from you a little thinner. Take your leaf cutter and place the bottom at the thick end of the paste. Continue to cut out a row of leaf shapes all along the strip of paste.)
- On a foam pad, use your ball tool or bone tool to thin the edges of the petals. You can press firmer than you usually would to create a waved/rippled effect which you see in fall leaves in nature.
- Using a quarter piece of wire, dab one end into edible glue, wiping off the excess, then insert the wire into the thick end of the leaf. Pinch at the base of the leaf to secure it to the wire.
- Place the leaf onto your veiner or use the thin end of your Dresden tool to mark the veins on the leaf.
- Use a palette knife or the end of a Dresden tool to ease the leaf from the veiner. Don’t be tempted to remove it by the wire – this will just tear your leaf.
- At this stage if you wish to can add a little extra interest to your leaf by poking a hole or two with a piping tip to create a “deteriorated/aged” effect. You can also cut out holes along the edge this way too. More on that in the last step below.
- Leave to dry overnight on either “bumpy” foam/drying foam or crumpled aluminium foam rather than drying the leaves flat.
- You can also leave a few to dry in a sugar flower former to create a cupped effect as fall leaves often curl at the edges.
- Now for the fun part! Fall leaves tend to change colour in three stages as they dry out in fall going from leaf green to lime green, then yellow, orange and red before finally turning brown, falling to the ground and crumpling up. So we’re going to dust 4 leaves in each of these color stages with shades of the other stages blended in also.
- For our first leaf, we’re going to use three dust colors: lime green, another darker green and yellow. Starting with yellow, apply the dust along the center of the leaf (and the main veins radiating out from the stem if it’s a maple leaf) starting from the bottom of the leaf upwards.
- Use the lime green color to dust the leaf from the outer edges inwards to meet the yellow.
- The darker green dust is then applied the edge of the leaf only but you can pull the color inwards a little at random spots along the leaf.
- Using a thinner brush, apply the darker green color along the main central veins also.
- For the second leaf, we’re following the same dusting pattern starting with yellow along center and the main vein(s), then switching to mustard from the edge inwards to the yellow.
- Next we use dark orange on the very edge.
- And finally we use lime green with a thin brush on the central vein(s).
- For third leaf, we start with mustard brushed along the center of the leaf and the main veins, then orange from the edge inwards to meet the mustard.
- Then add red along the edges and the central veins.
- For the fourth leaf, we use orange along the center of the leaf, red pulled inwards from the edges and brown to highlight the very edges and the central vein.
- For the leaves that you poked a hole in earlier, dust around the edge of the hole with brown dust using a fine paintbrush.
- You can also use a cocktail stick dipped in brown dust to create patches of “speckles” on the leaves.
- Finally, steam gently to set the colors. You don’t want to over-steam and create a shiny effect because fall leaves dry out as they die in the autumn season.