Sugar Painting–And Eating

The latest workshop involved embracing both our science and our artistic side.

Catherine, the CCGKC President, led us in learning the art of sugar painting. As we soon discovered, before you could even get to the design part, we had to first prepare the sugar so that it would be just the right viscosity for painting.

This is no easy task. Catherine led us in a discussion of how to properly prepare the sugar mixture, why weird steps (such as constantly brushing the sides of the sauce pan) were important, how to know if something went wrong, and what possible fixes, if any, there were. She also explained and demonstrated variations on the sugar mixture–some more beginner-friendly than others. With her detailed explanations and the hands-on experience, attendees could leave equipped to try it at home. (The pride you feel when your sugar mixture is just the right color and consistency–it’s a beautiful thing)

Next step: the artistry!

Catherine prepared some templates/examples of some classic, but relatively ‘easy’ sugar paintings. (On a personal note, I quickly learned that ‘easy’ is a relative term.)

Having watched the YouTube videos of the masters previously, I was excited to try my hand at the process. If you have never tried sugar painting before, here were some of my initial thoughts:

  • It’s harder than it looks
  • Oh! All the lines are supposed to be connected, right? So it’s all one piece! Oh, this involves so much forethought and planning!
  • Oooh, you can vary the thickness of the sugar mixture as you draw your piece, that would make it look better, I should really think about that.
  • Aaand, the mixture is too hard already!

Before beginning the process, Catherine informed us that a street vendor could get roughly three pieces out of a small nugget (after it’s melted down, of course). They also have to get those three pieces completed quickly, because the sugar hardens fairly fast–we were even using an altered recipe to slow the hardening process!

Catherine provided easy enough templates and ideas, so we were all able to leave with at least one piece that resembled an animal or an object. However, I at least walked away with a greater appreciation for the creations Catherine had made previously and those who make a living from it. Trying my hand at sugar painting didn’t take away the mesmerizing quality of watching it, instead, it heightened my appreciation.

To ensure that we all walked away with something we could take home (because, let’s face it, our paintings were no Van Goghs), Catherine also showed us how to coat fruit such as grapes or cherries, how to use left over sugar mixture to create hard candy sculptures and also taught us how to make dehydrated plum lollipops–another popular treat.

In the end, all ages walked out with something sweet to take home and some sweeter experiences.

and also taught us how to make dehydrated plum lollipops–another popular treat.

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In the end, all ages walked out with something sweet to take home and some sweeter experiences.