For an upcoming floral project I am making some David Austin roses. So far this has been a long gumpasting journey for me and I still have a ways to go before I really think I can do these beauties justice. Having said that there is one portion of these roses that I feel pretty good about and that is their calyxes. I had a couple of mishaps in the start, but once I gave up the notion of trying to compete with good old Mother Nature, I was happy with my results. Below is my tutorial for making rose calyxes.
(If you are new to gumpasting I have more information about gumpasting tools/equipment in my “Tools & Tips” section.
Foam pads a firm one for thinning the calyx and a “soft” one for holding the rose while it’s upside down)
Ball tool (with large and small ends)
Small, sharp scissors
#7 Icing tip
CelStick (aka cocktail stick) or a thickish skewer
Green petal dust(s) (The look that you are going for will determine which shades of green dusts. I opted for a mixture of mostly Squire’s Kitchen Vine with a little Sugarflair Foliage in it since I didn’t want to overpower my pastel pink petals.)
Sugarflair Aubergine petal dust
Green floral tape
Making the Calyx
#1 Roll out the green gumpaste relatively thick (around 2mm) and use a cutter to cut out the calyx.
#2 To ensure nice clean edges flip the gumpaste piece over while it is still in the cutter and roll the backside of the cutter with a smaller rolling pin. Remove the gumpaste calyx from the cutter.
#3 The addition of little notches on the sepals portion of the calyx is optional. If you would like to create some of these ‘v’-shaped serrations just give the outer edges of the sepals a few steep-angled snips with a pair of scissors. In the beginning I got kind of carried away with this little operation, but in the end I found that just three notches was my happy spot. One reason is because these little goodies can break off, so it turned out for me that less was more. I guess I will be candid here and tell you that I also like to make mine a little wider for the same reason (as you can see in the photo).
#4 Place the calyx on a firm foam pad. Thin the outer edges with the small end of the ball tool. Use the small end to hollow and elongate the center of each of the five sepals.
#5 Using small, circular motions hollow out the very center of the calyx with the large ball end.
#6 Punch a small hole in the center of the calyx using an icing tip. I did this because it makes it easier to thread the wire stem through the gumpaste piece and it prevents it from tearing. BTW: I found that the #7 tip worked best for my size stems.
#7 Gently pinch the outer edge of each sepal curling them slightly towards the center (sort of like making a folded taco shell).
#8 In order to protect the gumpaste rose petals you have already completed, place them upside down on a soft piece of foam to support them while adding the calyx. Brush a tiny amount of glue around the very base of the rose’s stem portion. Gently thread the calyx over the wired stem, but before affixing it onto the glued area pinch the outer edge of each sepal once again to help retain their curved shape. You may be wondering why I don’t just glue down each sepal flat against the rose petals. Because even though it is a little extra work to create these concaved-shaped sepals, I believe it is worth the effort because by doing so it gives it a more natural appearance in the end.
#9 Allow it to dry slightly and then brush it with the green petal dust(s). One thing I like to do before applying any petal dust is to protect the rose petals from any stray green dust, so I slip a small piece of tissue paper between the petals and the calyx sepals.
#11 Use a Celstick (or thickish skewer) to create a nice smooth hole in the center of the bell shape so that it can pass over the wire stem easier. This can be a little tricky because you are working with a relatively small amount of gumpaste and when easing it over the wired stem it may want to split. Trust me, your patience will win out in the end :D.
#12 Brush a tiny amount of glue on the base of the cutout part of the calyx and attach the bell shape onto it. Allow it to dry.
#13 Again, place a piece of tissue paper in between the rose petals and calyx sepals and redust the whole calyx with additional green petal dust(s).
#14 For a little more detailing you can add a tiny amount of aubergine petal dust to the very tips and some to the central base of each sepal. I suggest you go easy here because in my opinion using too much can look a little harsh. Remember, you can always add more, but once you’ve applied too much you are stuck with it because you cannot wipe it off (sigh)!
#15 The last thing to do is go back and add an extra layer of green floral tape to where the base of the gumpaste bell shape meets the taped stem because this will make a nice smooth transition as well as disguise any rough edges of gumpaste. Depending on the color(s) you have used for the calyx you may want to dust the taped stem to match it.
There you have what I consider to be a reasonably easy way to make a rose calyx.
Update: Since I decided to make some leaves for my roses I changed my mind about the final coloring of the calyx slightly. Just as before, I still wanted its green coloring to be on the subtle side so as not to take away from the pastel pink petals. I now needed to tie them in with my leave’s coloring, so I added just a touch of Sugarflair Apple Green petal dust to the calyx. In my opinion they just have to have a similar hue and not be completely “matchy-matchy” and I believe this did the trick nicely.