Needles are the most important gelatin art tools.
If you do not have any other tools, you can make many different flowers and other shapes using only a syringe with a needle. The best sizes to work with are 22G or 20G but other sizes are useful too.
You should also pay attention whether the tip is sharp or blunt. Both are good for different purposes.
Sharp-tip needle can be used to draw petals, leaves, thin lines and realistic flower centers.
To draw a petal with a needle simply fill the syringe with the color base, attach a sharp-tip needle and push all the air out of the syringe. Insert the needle into gelatin and slowly draw a desired shape while applying pressure to the syringe to release the color base into the drawn shape.
Keep the needle opening turned towards you. The side where the color base is being injected will be a bit uneven, keep that side turned towards you so that the flower looks nice when turned upside down.
To create a carnation, move the needle up and down slightly when drawing a petal.
Another way to create a petal with a needle is to inject the color base while pulling the needle out of gelatin.
With thin needles you can create thin lines usually used for flower centers.
The same technique can be used for drawing large petals, but you will need a large needle.
To create fuzzy, life-like flower centers, use a small sharp tip needle.
Insert the needle repeatedly in the center of the flower while releasing a tiny bit of color to create a fuzzy trail.
This is also good for creating fur for animals and insects in gelatin.
Blunt tip needles are perfect for filling already drawn petals with color.
If there is not enough color base in the petal, it will look faint and unattractive. The best way to fix that is to use the blunt-tip needle to fill it with more color. Sharp needles can be used too, but the sharp edge might create additional cuts and scrapes in your petal. The blunt tip is much easier to guide into the drawn petal.
Blunt tip needles are also used to fill shapes created by other tools as explained later on this page.
The most fun use of blunt tip needle are, of-course, baby's breath flowers.
Simply insert the blunt-tip needle into gelatin and apply pressure. Use different needle sizes to create different patterns.
To avoid having air in the baby’s breath, apply a bit of pressure to the syringe to create a droplet at the needle tip before inserting it into gelatin.
In some containers, it is difficult to make wide flowers with a straight needle. You can bend one of your needles to help solve this problem.
With a pair of pliers, hold the needle close to the needle hub and bend it gently to the desired angle.
Remember to keep the sharp-tip opening facing towards you.
To clean needles, wash them with dish liquid and warm water. Let water run through them to clean them completely.
Never let the gelatin color base dry in the needle. The best way to ensure the color base doesn’t end up clogging your needle is to keep it in a cup of warm water while you are working.
If the gelatin does end up drying in your needle, keep it in hot water for a while and then try pushing water through it with a syringe.
Plastic cutlery tools
The fastest and cheapest way to make a gelatin art tool is to use plastic cutlery. Plastic spoons are perfect for making flower petals as they are already slightly curved.
Not all plastic spoons are made from the same material. Some are very brittle and will crack and break as you try to cut them with scissors. Find a brand that is soft enough to cut but firm enough to hold its shape in gelatin and make sure you remove the spoon edge as it is usually thicker than the rest of the spoon.
Make many different shapes using this technique and you will be able to make many different types of flowers.
When you cut the plastic spoons with scissors, chances are they will be rough and uneven. In gelatin art, this is a good thing! Little imperfections create lines in gelatin that make the petals look more realistic and natural. Smooth tools like knives create flat shapes that are not suitable for all flowers.
Below is an example of a flower made with a roughly cut tool and a sharp knife:
If your plastic shape is too rough, you can make it a bit smoother with scissors or a small file.
There are two ways to make flowers using tools that don’t have a needle attached to them.
1. You can make a hole in gelatin, fill it with a color base, use the tool to create a petal and let the color base flow into the shape.
This method is good to quickly create several petals at once, but as the color base thickens up in contact with the cold color base, you will need to remove it and pour fresh color base into the hole.
2. Another way to make flowers is to insert the tool into gelatin, make the desired petal shape and then use a blunt-tip needle to fill the petal with color.
When using this method it is a good idea to push the blunt-tip needle in beside the tool and release a little bit of color into the incision before the tool is removed from the hole.
Removing the tool from dry gelatin might cause it to tear and ruin your design.
Beside plastic cutlery, you can use other plastic objects to make gelatin tools, like drinking straws and plastic take out containers, just make sure the plastic is safe for use with food.
Here is an example of a flower made with a drinking straw cut at a sharp angle:
Here is a cherry blossom flower made with a round shape cut from a takeout iced coffee cup.
Knives are a very convenient gelatin art tool as we all already have them in out kitchens.
Knives can be used for making petals, butterfly wings and other precise shapes in gelatin.
A knife is used to make a shape and the blunt-tip needle is used to fill the shape with color.
Another method to use knives is to make a hole in gelatin, fill it with color base and then use the knife to make a petal and let the color base from the hole flow into the incision.
Small vegetable knives tend to give best results. You can use pointy or round tip knifes depending on the shape you are trying to achieve.
Round tips make great butterfly wings and symmetrical pointy tips are good for individual pointy petals.
Here are some examples of shapes made with knives.
Specialized Gelatin Art Tools (Gurbias)
The easiest way to make gelatin art is by using specialized tools that consist of a metal shape that has a needle attached to them.
These tools allow you to quickly create petals and fill them with color at the same time.
The best way to use these tools is to keep them in a cup of warm water while you are working. Warm tools will be easier to insert into gelatin and won’t tear it. The warm water will also prevent the color base from drying in the needle and clogging the tool.
Make sure you push all the air bubbles out of your syringe before staring. Apply a bit of pressure to the syringe to create a tiny color droplet at the needle tip before inserting it into gelatin.
Insert the tool into gelatin with the needle pointing up. The needle side of the petal will be more uneven, always keep the needle on the side of the petal that is not going to be visible.
When the tool is inserted to the desired position, pull it back slightly before you release the color base, this will create a bit of space for the color and won’t create a bump where the color first entered the spot.
If the petal was not filled with enough color or the color has leaked out of the petal, fill it in again with a blunt-tip needle.
To clean the tools, wash them with dish liquid and warm water. Let water run through them to clean them completely.
If color base dries in the needle and clogs your tool, keep it in hot water for a while and then try to make water flow through it with a syringe.
You can use round metal tools to make a flower center hole or other shapes in gelatin. The center hole is very useful when drawing flowers as it prevents the color from running all over the gelatin surface as you are working. Other tools such as a melon baller, apple corer or a simple knife work too, but the melting tool will give you the most precise result.
They are also the fastest choice if you want to make a large number of desserts that need a center hole.
In addition to creating the flower center hole by melting gelatin, you can create many other shapes using this melting method. Different tools will allow you to create different shapes in gelatin. For example, bigger circular shapes are convenient for creating flower centers, animal heads, candles or an insect torso. Smaller shapes are good for creating ears, limbs, branches or letters.
Here is how to do it:
Bring a little bit of water to boil in a small sauce pan. Leave the melting tool in boiling water until it warms up. Time required will depend on the material and thickness of your tool.
Turn the gelatin container upside down over your kitchen sink or another container that the melted gelatin can drip into.
If you are using small containers, you might be able to hold them in your hand. For bigger containers, make sure you have them placed securely somewhere where you will have access to the bottom of the container but not risk hurting yourself by trying to juggle hot tools and heavy containers.
One way to accomplish this is to place a grill over your kitchen sink and then place the container upside down on top of it. You can use a grill from your oven or fridge for this purpose.
Always make sure that you are using tools that are free of any toxins and that you have a safe way to handle the tools when they are hot. If a tool doesn't have handles or is too small to hold, use pliers to keep them at the safe distance. Make sure the melted gelatin doesn't drip over your fingers while you are working as it can get quite hot too.
When you are done using the melting tool, wash them and allow them to dry right away.
You can melt different shapes using other metal objects too.
A needle hub is perfect for creating eyes.
Use other objects you have handy to create new and exciting shapes in your creations.
Gelatin cutting tools
Gelatin cutting tools are used to create lines in gelatin, such as flower stems, branches and limbs for bugs and animals.
Hold the cutting tool in warm water for a few seconds before making the incision.
Cut the desired shape slowly while supporting the gelatin in front of the cutter gently with your fingers.
If the gelatin surface is tearing easily, try to insert the cutter blade deeper into gelatin. Cuts close to the gelatin surface are more likely to cause gelatin to tear.
Remove the gelatin from the incision and fill it with color base.
Now that you know everything you need to know about gelatin art tools you are ready start making your desserts!