Sugarcraft Guild a few pictures of my work. One of the ladies invited me to conduct a demonstration at her home, and shortly after this I was invited to attend their teacher training course. I was accredited by the BSG soon after as a certified teacher. I started teaching internationally, and it became quite apparent that I could make a living from the demand for classes. I haven’t looked back, I enjoy cooking, but my passion is the art of recreating something out of sugar. I love what I do. You began as a self-taught artist, but do you find yourself training with others in the industry these days? I started making sugar flowers 37 years ago, and all I have done is practice practice and practice a little bit more. Go ahead and take lessons from a different spectrum of teachers, then mould yourself with a style all of your own. We all learn from our mistakes. If the flowers we made in the beginning were perfect then there wouldn’t be any room for improvement. I want to get to a stage where I can’t tell the difference between a real rose and a sugar rose. I have a long way to go. I love to share my techniques. This is why I am a teacher - I want to share all that I know. When I teach, I don’t hold back any techniques that would make my flower better than the students’, no! I love to see the sheer joy on their faces when they achieve results like mine - it makes me so proud. I have started to attend other teachers’ classes, purely to see their style of teaching as I find this fascinating. Every day we learn something new. I love the feeling when I haven’t made a and suggest using in the book. For example, my brand of flower paste, edible dust colours and range of tools. What’s next for Sugar Flower Studio? certain flower for a while, then realise a totally new way of making it. It’s a revelation and quite often you will see me literally with tears of joy rolling down my cheeks! I love my art. Your signature style is to produce botanically correct florals. Do you ever create ‘fantasy’ flowers or is it important for you to stay true to your style? I am continually expanding my range of botanically correct silicone veiners and cutters. I love making new moulds. It’s so rewarding after the countless hours of hard and tedious work to see the end product, then using it to recreate Mother Nature herself. I adore the process and feel extremely proud so far of what I have managed to recreate in silicone. What are your three favourite tools for creating sugar flowers? I would say that in some classes I need to alter the formation of a flower, for example a peony. It’s impossible to recreate exactly the structure of the real plant species in the allocated course time; however I do explain and cover the procedure in the masterclasses if students were going to recreate that particular flower for a competition piece. Firstly, always use botanically correct veiners to achieve the best and most natural results. Secondly, my thumbs! People who have attended my courses will know why thumbs are so important! I advise to use corn floured thumbs and fingers to go around the edges of any leaf or petal to thin the paste first before using a ball tool. And lastly, I always use a large metal ball tool, as this helps stretch the flower paste without adding so many ruffles. Tell us about the design process for your range of botanically correct cutters and veiners. Do you have any advice for decorators wanting to improve on their sugar flower skills? When I decide on a new species of plant to replicate as a two-part mould, it needs to pass a rigorous grading process first. I choose each petal, leaf, bud, flower centre, fruit, nut, bark or shell with the utmost care and specification. Qualities I look for in each specimen are the contours, shape, vein structure and size gradients. Both the Sugar Flower Studio range by Robert Haynes and Simply Nature Botanically Correct Products range (which can be found at www.SugarDelites.com) are made using exactly the same procedures and highest food grade platinum- based silicone. Do you have plans to publish a book in the future? I must admit, one day there will be a book. I had a thought last year that it would be sensible to write and publish a book, when all of my key products are available for me to cross reference • A lways knead your flower paste and get it really warm to help the length of time you can work with it • C ut your floral wire at an angle - this helps to insert the wire much better into the flower paste. • R epeat, repeat, repeat. It will get better and better the more you practice.