Today we’re going to be talking about sugar flower inspiration. I’m going to be sharing some of the different ways I find inspiration for my sugar flowers and cake designs and we’ll also be chatting to sugar flower artists Maggie Austin, Arati Mirji and Jacqueline Butler about the inspiration behind their beautiful work.
About 8 years ago I was interviewed by a cake magazine and asked about where I find inspiration. I spoke about finding inspiration from nature, a clients wedding vision, fashion etc. and I finished the interview by saying and Pinterest of course, because I love Pinterest! I mean, who doesn’t!
I had only been making cakes for about 2 years, so I was really excited when the magazine came out. But that same day an article was released in which a very well respected designer talked about inspiration and how they took inspiration for their work from art, architecture and fashion, and that a true artist would never use Pinterest as a source of inspiration.
Well, immediately my heart sank. I had just said that I loved using Pinterest for inspiration! I felt so embarrassed. Who was I to talk about inspiration? I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about.
But the truth is, inspiration is such a personal thing. Looking back now, I know that Inspiration can come from anywhere and no one can tell you what’s right and wrong when it comes to what inspires YOU. So many different things have inspired my cake designs and sugar flowers over the years. And yes, by the way, I do still love Pinterest!
Everyone finds inspiration for their designs in different ways but the most important thing is to keep working, creating and moving forward and never let other people’s opinions hold you back.
“Inspiration does exist but it must find you working” Pablo Picasso
So today I’m sharing some of my favourite sources of inspiration with you. I have also asked some amazing sugar flower artists to share where they find there inspiration, so we can get an insight into their design process. It’s really interesting to see how everyone approaches things differently. We’ll be hearing from sugar flower artists Maggie Austin, Arati Mirji and Jacqueline Butler all about their sources of inspiration.
Let’s start with some of my favourite sources of inspiration for my cake designs and sugar flower work.
Getting hold of real flowers is an amazing starting point, because you can really study in detail the structure of the flower, as well as the colouring, and then use all this information when creating your sugar flowers.
I love to look at the work of floral designers to gather inspiration, especially for sugar flower arrangements. Floral designers are experts in the elements and principles of flower arranging, so you can learn so much from studying their work. Here are some of my favourite floral designers to follow on instagram for inspiration.
First up is Floral Artist & five time Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medalist @josephmassie who posts gorgeous sculptural floral arrangements.
Next up is @london_blooms. Katya posts photo diary of her London garden and posts the most beautiful monthly botanical style posters
I absolutely love watching Nicoles IGTVs @textureflorals where she show all the flowers she is using that week in her arrangements. She talks about her colour palettes and how the flowers she has selected all work with each other. So inspiring!
@wedluxe provides ‘inspiration through a global lens of fashion, art, and design’. Floral designers are showcased from around the world, along with amazing luxury weddings, so it’s a must follow account for inspiration.
I love the unique colours and the beautiful arrangements that include lots of anthuriums at @dk_flowers_house. I’m busy making some sugar anthuriums at the moment, so I’m getting a lot of inspirations for how I could arrange them on a cake from looking at their gorgeous arrangements.
When a bride and groom come to me for for a wedding cake consultation they usually have a clear vision for their wedding in mind; the overall feel and look they are hoping to achieve. But are not always sure how this will translate into the wedding cake. So designing their cake is all about pulling together their vision and inspirations for their wedding into a beautiful cake design. I always ask clients to bring along any elements they would like incorporated into their cake design, such as colour palettes and swatches, fabric swatches, images of flowers etc. so then we can use all this as inspiration when designing their cake.
The seasons also provide a lot of inspiration for my sugar flowers and cake decorating work. Everything from seasonal flowers, to colour palettes inspired by the changing seasons provide great starting points for new designs.
and Pinterest of course!
When I start a new sugar flower project I always set up a new Pinterest board to collect inspiration. I have boards set up for each individual flower I make and I pin images of many variations of each flower, so that I can study the colouring in detail. I also love to pin flowers arrangements and look at the different elements of flower arranging that have been used by the floral designer, as well as colour combinations. You can follow all my Pinterest boards here if you’d like to see what I have been pinning and what has been inspiring me lately.
Acclaimed Sugar Flower artist Arati Mirji has kindly shared the inspiration behind her beautiful sugar flowers with us and is giving us a little glimpse into her design process.
Where do I get inspiration for my creations?
From Nature of course! 😊
I very strongly believe that if one wants to create life like flowers or flowers as close to nature as possible; then the ideal way to go about it would be to try and get the actual flower and then try and copy it.
There is a wealth of information one can extract by observing a real flower with regard to –
How the petals and leaves are arranged;
Proportion of the center to the petals,
Size of the petals and leaves;
How the flowers and leaves are distributed on a twig and so much more!
I’m always on the look out for new and unusual flowers/ foliage that will excite and challenge me.
However, it is not always possible to have the actual flowers in front of us to create; and the next best option would be the internet. I try and get various pictures of the flower I want to create from different angles to guide me. I’m a huge fan of still life paintings and still life photography -both old and contemporary. Pinterest is a very good place to find inspiration.
Internationally acclaimed cake designer and sugar flower artist Maggie Austin has kindly shared some her thoughts on inspirations with us, as well as some great advice on embracing the imperfections.
I find inspiration everywhere. And I love the word “find” because there is an element of surprise in the discovery. If you look for it, it hides! Instead, I try to simply be open to the flow of visual information in the world around me. Walking my dog Bessie around the wetland preserve near our house or sanding down an ancient fireplace mantle or sitting on the porch during a rainstorm, watching the hydrangeas sag and drip; it all expands my visual vocabulary.
I work with students of all levels of experience and success often takes the shape of initial failure. A torn petal seems tragic at first! But then, your mind’s eye recalls that real petals do tear. Little bugs munch on them, the wind blows them around, and they finally turn brown and drop off. The flowers we make in workshops reflect our passions and our flaws. My students hear me say, “Embrace the imperfections” because flaws are so incredibly beautiful.
Jacqueline Butler, the artist and creative director behind Petalsweet Cakes shares some details about where she finds inspiration for her sugar flowers.
In my neighborhood! There are a lot of beautiful trails near my home where I run and walk regularly. I’m definitely inspired by all the wildflowers, trees, leaves, shrub roses and bougainvillea that grow along my favorite routes. The colors don’t change too much due to our lack of real seasons (I live in Southern California), but the tradeoff is pretty things are blooming all year round.
Online! I follow florists and flower farms on social media, and search for specific flowers on Pinterest. All are great resources for seasonal flowers, beautiful color palettes, and unique arrangements. I might see flowers together that I never thought of mixing, or a flower styled in a way that gives me an idea for how to shape my petals in a different way. Several of my favorites to follow online are Floret (@floretflower) and Grace Rose Farm (@gracerosefarm)!
Books, magazines and catalogs! Gardening and flower books are always a great resource for sugar flowers. There are so many stunning books available now, written by some of the wonderful florists I follow online. The books feature so many gorgeous photos, it’s hard to not want to make everything you see. Home décor magazines and catalogs often feature gorgeous arrangements, or other textiles like clothing, linens, and tile, that can inspire a color palette or cake design. I frequently cut photos out of catalogs and pin them to an inspiration board!
And finally, Design Seeds (@designseeds) on Instagram or their website! Not for flowers, but for incredible color palettes. If you have a base color you are starting with and need some supporting shades, or have no idea where to start, you will definitely find plenty of inspiration there!
Thank you so much to Arati, Maggie and Jacqueline for sharing the inspiration behind all your gorgeous work with us here at Sugar Ruffles Blog.
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