Saturday, November 19, 2011

Those New Wilton Punches

Earlier this year, Wilton released a new product line called Punch.Cut.Decorate! that consists of punch cutters like the die cutters used in scrapbooking. The companion product, Sugar Sheets, are very thin, edible "paper" you cut with the punches, available in a variety of colors and patterns.
There are two basic punches: an oval and wavy line. But you can then get different inserts that cut other shapes. You may have seen the swanky new product display in the Wilton aisle of your favorite craft store. I mention it because I think these type of decorating tools might appeal to crafters who have previously been intimidated by cake decorating, as this is really more like scrapbooking and paper crafts. You're just using edible sugar paper and food-safe punches.
The potential for creativity here is huge, and I can see how these products will open up the world of cake decorating for a whole new market. At least, I suppose that's what Wilton hopes will happen. Instructors got a sneak preview of the product line at our annual meetings, and we got to take a set of the basic punches home with us along with a sample pack of Sugar Sheets, which was awesome!
We were supposed to showcase the new products in our Wilton classes for a period of time, so I got some practice using the punches with Sugar Sheets. I didn't have much luck with the Sugar Sheets. I had a hard time getting them to cut cleanly, and after a while--even though I kept them sealed up--they started to dry out. When Sugar Sheets get dry, you can't fold the shapes you cut or they'll crack.

While I think the vast majority of instructors are very excited about these new punches, I lack enthusiasm. I try to be open minded, and I normally love learning new tricks and techniques, but this method doesn't really appeal to me. Maybe I'm too old school. Cake decorating to me involves squeezing icing out of a piping bag, texturing rolled fondant, or making gum paste flowers.

Plus, have you seen the price of the Sugar Sheets?! And you know, the punches aren't free. I'm not able to invest in a whole new round of equipment, and besides, I don't have the storage space. Now that I'm out of Sugar Sheets, I was hopeful that the punches would work with wafer paper, as that's much more affordable. But they don't.
So, I tried them with some rolled fondant, and they did fairly well. I think using gum paste or at least a half-fondant/half gum paste mix might work better. The fondant was a bit too soft and stretching was an issue, but not a huge problem.
Here's a close up of the roses and wee crown I made using shapes from the wavy cutter. The oval cutter made the bow loops and rather-too-large-to-be-whimsical butterfly. Or whatever you think it looks like.

I feel as though I'm still in the process of getting used to these tools, and I'm not quite as comfortable with them as I'd like to be. However, even though they're not be my favorite tools to work with, some of my students love them and have had a lot of fun getting creative with the shapes.

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