View Full Version : Cold Porcelain Gladiolus for monthly challenge in 'Florals and Botanical'

07-27-2015, 05:52 AM
This is a 'read only' thread, the original, for comments, can be found here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1384694).

For those interested: I work in Cold Porcelain. It is not a true porcelain but gives a porcelain-like finish to your work, but it is able to be used for a much finer textured item than 'real' porcelain is.

So what is 'cold porcelain' anyway? It is an air-dried clay you cook in your kitchen. It is made from white glue, cornstarch, vinegar and mineral oil and white paint or coloring cooked together, to make the air-dried clay. Fairly inexpensive to make, moderately expensive to purchase ready-made. I make my own. :)

I use Aleen's white glue, as the flowers are flexible when dried. When I used Elmer's, they dried hard and stiff, and through pretty strong for thicker portions, thinner portions did chip and break a lot. If you Google 'cold porcelain' you can find many tutorials and 'recipes' for it. I may try a combination of the two, at some point, because there are times I don't want the clay to be quite as flexible as it currently is for stamens and such, but at present, I'm only using Aleen's Original Tacky Glue.

I use the basic instructions for how to construct gum paste edible flowers in making cold porcelain. I have watched many hours of videos, looked at tutorials and photos on how to create them, and now I am branching out, as I am doing flowers that you don't normally see done for a cake. Gum paste does not shrink, cold porcelain does, and when it does, it can make the petals more life-like as no two ever dry identically. It also creates more challenges, as sometimes they don't dry as you would like them too....but it keeps it interesting. :) LOL!

As I've gained in my skills, instead of looking at how others might create their version of a flower, I am attempting to study photos or 'real-life specimens of the flower and attempt to recreate them as close as I can to the Master's hand. I often do, however, since I am not into recreating the wheel, see if I can find cutters made for that flower and try to replicate the basic outline since I often do not have the individual petal's shape readily available. It is surprising the variation and complexity of some flowers!

There are many veiners and cutters one can purchase for lots of money from cake makers. I don't have lots of money, so I am making do without them also. One way is to form your own cutters. ( I bought a length of stovepipe to cut up into strips and am using that to form my own at times.) Another way is to get old metal cookie cutters and re-shape them into the shapes you want. Then again, if you aren't making many of the same flower, you can trace the shape onto light cardboard and use a scalpel or craft knife to cut the rolled clay and go from there.

And though you might use a cutter or outline to form the outside of the petal or leaves, each one is manipulated with a ball tool or cell stick, your fingers or other tool to give the veining, thin it further, ruffle the edges, etc., so no two are identical anyway.

The clay must have guidance in holding the shape during drying, for it is quite soft and won't lose all it's shape, but does tend to flatten out if not supported. So you use egg trays, apple trays or curved plates or saucers to hold the shape while it dries. You can get fancy and purchase ready-made formers, but again, they are costly and if you don't need them again...and they are all identical, so not something I use.

Sometimes, like for these gladiolus, you can't find a ready made form to shape them in, so must make your own 'formers' for the flowers to dry on/in.

"Necessity is the mother of invention." I needed a funnel shape, but flared out at the top and much tighter in the base than funnels I could find, so I had to make my own design. I used some plastic pieces I got from my local hospital's occupational therapy department. The plastic is used to make braces and splints. It is rigid at room temperature but will soften if a heat gun is applied, or if you dip it into very hot water.

In 2012 I injured my hand and had 5 months of occupational therapy. I got to know the therapist well, so I asked for and received pieces too small to use for that purpose. I got a pot of hot water simmering and one by one melted and mashed them together (it sticks to itself quite nicely) and created my formers. If I only needed a former for a brief time, aluminum foil could be used, and I did use it for a few of the gladiolus, but I want to create more of them, so needed a more permanent base.

The cold porcelain will stick to itself nicely when moist. If it's drying out some, a little of the Aleen's glue will help it stick to itself again. If you don't want it to stick to other things, cornstarch dusted on the item will help prevent that.


As this post is quite long, I will end this here, and begin a reply for the tutorial with pictures. Blessings!

07-27-2015, 06:15 AM
To start my gladiolus, I looked at all the photos I could find of them and saw how the 'centers' pistils, stamens, and all those portions were made.

Here are some photos of what I did to create them:


I rolled the clay into little 'snakes' to make the center pieces. I used a clay press to extrude very thin pieces into a cornstarch bowl for the very tiniest ones. I had attempted to make them for the clematis of last month, they hadn't worked, but I kept the attempts, I was grateful I had, lol. They were able to be be used for the three 'branches' shown in the following picture.

What isn't shown is that I also made 'rice grains' that were glued onto the stamens after they became firm.


07-27-2015, 06:23 AM
To create the petals, I used a cookie cutter I re-purposed. I believe it may have been a hot air balloon shape, I don't know. There is an antique and junk shop a few miles from me that has a box of old cookie cutters for sale at $.50 each, and I got the cutter there. I elongated it and well, you can see how they started, and what I did afterward in the picture.


From there, I used a pointed tool to add the 'veining' and texture to the base of the petal.


To add more frill, I used the tool on the edges of each one.


The outer petals are a little more narrow than the inner, so I changed the shape a bit when I re-cut them.

I placed them all in the former with the completed pistil and stamens and let them dry. I used a bit of glue to hold them together also.


07-27-2015, 06:40 AM
After they were dry, I painted some highlights in the blooms and some pollen on the stamens.

I began by adding buds to the top with green clay, cut in smaller versions of the petals.


I was so anxious to complete the stem, I forgot to take pictures of the next steps, sorry. I added a wire to each blossom under the smaller portion of green calyx and let them dry. Then, with floral tape I taped them to the stem and added the second green calyx portion. I added clay between the portions as i went along.

Sorry this picture is blurry. I created the stems by cutting and taping 3 coat hangers together. For the first one, I increased the stem diameter with pipe cleaners, then I wound a rolled layer of clay over that and let it dry; finally applying a top coat of clay and smoothing it. Now, I am using kitchen towels (paper towels) torn in strips and winding it around, gluing the ends. Then I cover it in floral tape to make sure if any should be seen, it will be green and not white. A layer of clay will be added to the top afterward on the bottom, as the top is covered when adding the buds/blooms.


I hang it upside down to dry, as the buds and blooms will droop if dried upright and I didn't but should have done a couple at a time and let them dry, then continued down the stem. As I mentioned, with my stressful week, I was afraid I would not get it finished and I rushed the process. You can't tell from there, but I can see up close and know that the job wasn't done like it should be.

And here's the finished Gladiolus against my maple tree:


I hope this was a blessing to you. Thanks for viewing! :wave: