Maker Monday: Meet Nicholas Lodge, Sugar Flowers Expert, Instructor
One of the foremost gumpaste artists, Nicholas Lodge recently joined Craftsy as an instructor. His online class is called Classic Sugar Flowers, and in it, he shows you how to create highly realistic flowers made of sugar paste (aka “flower paste,” or “gum paste”): tulips, peonies, and more. Make them to decorate cakes, or they can stand on their own. Either way, they are a stunning embellishment. And in the world of sugar flowers, Nicholas Lodge is one of the most instantly recognizable names. We had a chance to ask Nicholas about his love of not only sugar flowers, but also real florals. In this free video, he tells us about that, as well as his favorite cake decorating experience; and he imparts his advice for anyone interested in creating wonderful floral arrangements from sugar paste!
When I make sugar flowers, I sometimes make fantasy-type flowers. But for most of my cakes, and for most of my classes, I prefer botanically-correct flowers. I’m really known for the details in my flowers, so I always try to look at the real flower and use that as a sample to work from. So I would definitely go towards the botanically-correct with as much detail as possible. It fools people! They say, “Wow! I can’t believe those are sugar!” because they look like real flowers.
When I was younger, as a teenager, I worked in a flowershop, in a florist. Later on, I actually trained as a florist. That really helped me a lot in understanding flowers. But actually for my whole life, probably from when I was a very small child, I used to love looking at flowers in my dad’s garden. I’ve always had a love of flowers. I’ve toured in over 30 countries, so sugar craft have taken me places, and some places where most people would only dream of going. It’s amazing that all of these places I’ve been to have been related to a cake, or to sugar flowers.
Again, in my 34 years in my industry, I’ve had opportunities to make cakes for members of the Royal Family in England, and celebrities. But what would actually probably stand out as my most enjoyable cake, would probably be for Keegan Gerhard, who is a pastry chef and friend who lives in Denver. When he and his wife, Lisa, got married in Texas a few years ago, pretty much all the guests were pastry chefs. So they were all friends and colleagues. We just had the most wonderful time. That probably stands out as one of my most memorable cakes, as far as the one I enjoyed the most.
A lot of times we think about just the basic flowers. But there are, of course, so many many flowers you can make when you look at different garden varieties. There are thousands that you can potentially make with sugar. There are a lot of really fun ones. Of course, I haven’t made every flower that has been created. There are thousands that I haven’t made. But hopefully over the next few years, I’ll be able to try some other flowers. Maybe I’ll get up to 500 flowers, in that range.
So when somebody starts making sugar flowers, it’s a little bit like a lot of hobbies and pasttimes and recreational things we do. There’s a lot of equipment, and sometimes it can become a little overwhelming. But start off the with the basics. The best thing to do is to pick a flower that you want to learn. Just get the basic equipment to make that flower. Once you’ve mastered that, you can go on to something more advanced. Most importantly, I tell my students to remember to breathe. That’s a very important thing. Pace yourself. Don’t get stressed. It’s sugar; it’s very easy to easy re-roll out, as a product.
Once you start making flowers, most students are amazed how easy it is to work with it. As I said, now we have so many great products that you can use that make life easier, like using a pasta attachment, and all that different cutters and veiners. They also make the flowers look more realistic, as well. Just, as I said, have a little patience. But if you have a true passion for this, it will be a wonderful thing to make, create sugar flowers. You’ll have a lot of fun, you’ll enjoy them. You can make them for gifts, you can do them on a cake. It’s a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to use them in lots of different ways.
Be sure to check out Nicholas’ online cake decorating class, Classic Sugar Flowers and come on back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow to learn how to use floral tape in sugar flower construction. Subscribe to our blog, as our Maker Monday series continues next week!