I love fleshy flowers: a wafer paper succulent tutorial

Finally, I’m giving a little cariñito to my blog. I’ve been busy with my regular job, but I’m oficially on a short winter vacation now! I know I promised several weeks ago to tell you about how my cake quotes went. Well, for now, only one seems promising. But I’ve come to the realization that it’s better to have a few well-paid orders than to sell myself cheap and then be dissapointed in myself.

Now, for this week’s treat. I’ve recently started to work with wafer paper, and I love it! It’s cheap, versatile, somewhat easy to work with, can be used at once and the resulting products are so whimsical! I learned the basics through Stevi Auble’s Delicate Wafer Paper Cakes Craftsy class (which is really, really good! I haven’t been able to see the second one, although I have it), and immediately started experimenting with other shapes.

Could I marry my recently-found love of wafer paper and succulents?

Then, I found out about the succulents trend, and actually made a cake for a friend who used succulents among her wedding flowers. The cake was supposed to have a peony-like bouquet on top, which I had started to make in gumpaste months before. I was nowhere near finishing the seven-plus flowers I needed a week before the wedding, so I was relieved when she called to say the florist had a big left-over of flowers and that she could use them along with some succulents to create an arrangement for the top of the cake. Although I was nervous, never before working with real flowers on a cake, this was the best news of the week as I could concentrate in perfecting the cake, which was quite minimalistic (which is challenging since any little imperfection in fondant shows!) and taking-time with the hand piping. I talked it out with the florist to make sure it would work and took my almost naked cake to the venue. Wow! The florist’s work was spectacular (I didn’t expect any less, since this was the florist of choice in my two sisters’ and my wedding as well, but, oh, did she excel in this arangement!). It worked ten times better than the sugar peonies would have. And so, I started obsessing over the green, unique, velvety, meaty flesh of succulents.

Upper left: The wonderful bride's bouquet. Right: My cake with the accidental but gorgeous real flowers arrangement with succulents. Lower left: What YOU are going to make!

Upper left: The wonderful bride’s bouquet. Right: My cake with the accidental but gorgeous real flowers arrangement with succulents. Lower left: What YOU are going to make!

Could I marry my recently-found love of wafer paper and succulents? I had only seen wafer paper used in delicate flowers with thin petals, such as peonies, roses, and ranunculus. Could this medium be manipulated into making a more tridimensional petal shape, a “fat” petal, as to say? After experimenting with good-old computer paper, I went to work on the “real” thing.

This is the result: my first wafer paper succulent tutorial! (Actually, my first tutorial ever!) I told you something useful would come out of this blog! It’s not an exact replica, but it’s gorgeous! I would say this is a succulent-inspired flower, a bit similar to the echeveria elegans variety. In the process of making this, I was on the verge of shouting “I just can’t cake this!”, but although some tweaks may be done to improve the final result, I’m pretty happy with it.

Succulent wafer paper flower tutorial

What you’ll need:

wafer paper
scissors
piping gel
paint brush

That’s it! Although I also suggest some kind of mat to protect the work surface and having water and paper towels ready to take care of the stickiness of the piping gel.

Read before you cake:

1.Wafer paper is super sensible to water. Do not work with your hands wet or let water splash on it! You’re gonna waste really valuable material in a sad, sad way. Dry your hands and the work surface well before handling it.

2. Although I don’t explain the process of coloring the wafer paper in this tutorial, I will soon make another tutorial to show how I did it! In the meanwhile, wafer paper can be colored using an edible ink printer (which I haven’t done) or you can make the flower white and color it later with my simple technique.

How to cake it:

1. Make the template and cut the triangles. I drew a triangle by making a 4 inch line, measuring 2 1/4″ inch up from the center of that line and joining the ends. I used sixteen triangles for this tutorial. Leave thirteen as is for the first two rows of petals, and cut the rest of the triangles in half for the smaller petals in the center.

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2. Apply piping gel. On the wrong side of the wafer paper (the one with the rougher texture), apply piping gel with the paint brush, leaving a bit of a diamond area around the center point for easier handling. Piping gel will make the wafer paper maleable and prevent it from cracking when you attempt to curve or roll it and also serves as your glue. You can put the piping gel to all the triangles at once if you like. They will curve a little; not to worry.

3. Make a cone. Think of making a parchment paper piping pag. The center of the long side of the triangle will be the point of you cone. Bring the ends over each other (remember most of the triangle will be sticky), being careful not to transfer the stickyness to the right side of the paper, which you’ll be painting later (if you don’t use already colored paper). When the cone is closed, pinch the point to make the pointy petal.

image4. Shape the petal. This part is not hard but is better shown visually. Holding the cone with both hands point side up and with the best-looking part towards you, use your fingers to stick inside themselves the sides of the cone and press the base to stick it together. Your cone is now no longer a cone, but a pointy, fat petal that is flat on the base. Now, fold back both sides in a way that the petal is now closer to a diamond shape. If needed, add piping gel on the back to help keep the shape. This is now your completed petal (The back will look ugly but the front will be smooth). Make thirteen of these. (This is the step where I would color the petals, ideally. Not a sin if you leave it for the end.)

image5. Arrange the first row of petals. Brush a bit of piping gel on the base of the front-side of your first petal. Put the next petal on top of that one, add more gel and continue adding petals one on top of the other until you have a seven-petal circle. Make sure to tuck the last petal under the first one.

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6. Arrange the second row of petals. Cut about a 1/3″ of the base of the remaining six petals (to make them shorter) and arrange on top of the first row in a similar fashion but more towards the center.

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7. Make five small petals for the third row. Using the smaller triangles, shape into cones and then petals as described in step four. however, instead of folding the sides inwards, I snipped these at the base to make them into a less bulky perfect diamond for the center. Arrange on top of the second row with some piping gel. Here, after placing the five petals, I used the back of my brush to “push” the center of the petal a little so it would curve (or fold) inward a bit.

8. Make a tiny cone for the center. Using the last small triangle, form a little cone, close the open end with piping gel and stick in the middle of the flower.

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There! Now you have a beautiful succulent you can use on a cake for those rustic-style brides. It would look amazing in an arrangement with other wafer paper flowers such as the simple rolled roses and floral stems Stevi Auble shows in her first Craftsy class. I encourage you to experiment with more rows or bigger triangle templates. Go ahead! You can cake this!

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