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The Joys of Dust: Part One

You can’t help but love it! It coats just about every surface, adds just the perfect extra touch, creates interest and dimension, and can elevate anything from drab to fab!

I am, of course, referring to food-safe decorating dusts. 😊

The big three types of dust in the decorating world are matte, sheen, and glitter dusts. Today we are going to stick to the matte dust, but don’t worry, the others will be along shortly. Matte dust is sometimes referred to as petal dust or blossom dust. (To learn more about sheen and glitter dusts, check out my part two post here.)

(Note: I am not receiving any revenue for the links posting to products or services on this post.)

Way back in the day… (I looked it up, it was 2013) I took the Wilton Gum Paste class.  This was my first exposure to the matte decorating dust. Making flowers out of gum paste is just the first step.  In order to give your flowers a more realistic look, you have to shade them.

One of the final class projects is to make a Stargazer Lily. My wonderful and amazing teacher usually let me get away with doing a little of my own thing when it came to our projects, so I found a picture of a red and orange lily online and used it as my model instead.

I started out with orange petals, and using matte dusts, I turned my dull orange petals into a realistic looking flower.

Stargazer lily (class example)
My finished lily

Since I don’t make wedding cakes regularly, I don’t think I have made a gum paste flower since. Oh well, now I have an excellent collection of matte dusts in a drawer to stare at every once in a while.

Just recently, I have learned that you can use the matte dust as a powdered food coloring.  You can add it to buttercream, candy coatings, chocolate, and even use it to color food. This makes the dust so much more versatile than ever before! Which is good, as I am running out of room to store all my little jars of dust.

If you have large quantities to color, like icing, then I still recommend good ole fashioned gel food colors, but for smaller icing projects, coloring coatings and chocolates, and coloring dry foods, you can’t beat this amazing dust.

My biggest excitement is that it finally allows me to easily create the one candy coating color that is just not found on the market. Purple!

How to up the fun with matte dust:

Using a small paintbrush dedicated to food use only, you can slowly build color onto a dry surface, like gum paste, royal icing, or wafer paper. Adding some shading gives your item depth and character.

Brown shading on the base of a baby bib
Shading on a baseball

To add color to icing, you first have to melt a small portion of icing. Adding your powder to the liquid will hydrate the dust first, allowing it to blend into your icing much better. You may have to add quite a bit of powder to achieve intense color, so again, I recommend this for smaller projects or to create a more subtle, pastel shade.

Icing colored with Sugar Art Foliage Green

To add color to candy coatings, like Wilton Candy Melts, you need to add the dust to melted shortening, oil, or my preference, melted paramount crystals, before adding it to your melted coating. For darker colors, like purple, it is much easier to start with a darker base color like the Wilton Candy Melts Lavender, than it is to start with white. You won’t need quite as much dust this way. You’ll use a lot more dust, but you can get intense color starting with a white coating base.

Petal Crafts African Violet (top) and Bordeaux (bottom)
Dust mixed in with melted paramount crystals
Paramount crystal mixture added to the melted coating
Adding more dust to coating
Original Lavender coating (center) and finished purple color (top and bottom)
This colored green coating started out as white

Since I added more dust to the lavender coating instead of first mixing it with the melted paramount crystals, the resulting purple has visible specks of matte dust in it. I only added the green dust to the melted crystals, so the final product has no color specks.

This is great if you only need small amounts of each color and don’t really need to buy a whole bag of colored coating for your project. The jars of dust are small, take up less space than bags of every color coating available, and the best part, don’t go bad. This means you can always buy fresh white coating, when you need several colors for a project, instead of wondering if the half bag of yellow in the cabinet will still melt properly.

For couverture, instead of an oil, you would melt a little bit of cocoa butter in order to add your dust.

One of the most fun uses for the matte dust I have discovered is coloring dry food like coconut. A tiny bit of dust will easily color a lot of coconut, rice cereal, or even Cheerios if your child is going through an only eat blue food phase. 😉

It is much harder to distribute the color from a wet food coloring when you are trying to achieve an even color throughout your project.

A little dust goes a long way, so be sure to add a little at a time.
Purple rice cereal and green coconut

Finally, if you mix the matte dust with a little bit of clear alcohol or clear extract, you can get a water color glazed effect when painted on dry surfaces.

Unpainted fondant leaves
Leaf painted with vodka andPetal Craft Mayan Green dust

You know what this means right?

I need to find a second drawer to put all my new dust colors in.



If you have uses for petal dust that I have not mentioned, please let me know. I always love to learn new techniques. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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  1. Hi, Thank you 😊 this is great for our Girl Scouts to earn their badges. I’m looking for the Leave…

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