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The Joys of Dust: Part Two

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. If you would like to learn more about matte dust, check out my Joys of Dust: Part One entry.

I love school.

If I had unlimited funds, I would be a professional student. Unfortunately, I had to stop after two degrees (but I was only 3 credits short of a second Associate’s Degree). So close.

There have been plenty of bumps in the academic road though.

Let’s just say that I am still not sure how an initial major in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics turned into degrees in Accounting and Graphic Communications.

And now I make desserts.

Yeah. Moving on.

Learning is fun.

So, while I can’t earn four more college degrees, I do try to sneak in classes every now and again.

I have taken all the Wilton Courses in cake decorating, and I have an Entrepreneurial Certificate as well. (Which is basically a fancy way of saying I can write an awesome business plan.)

Mostly I now get my education fix from taking online classes on Bluprint (formerly Craftsy).

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

One problem with taking lots of online classes, and even watching online tutorials, is that you get super excited and immediately want to use those skills on the next cake you do. For example, I will watch a class on wafer paper, and of course I want to make awesome wafer paper flowers for my cakes.

A few days later.

Yay, a cake order!

For a sheet cake with an edible image (of a dinosaur).

Not really conducive to delicate flowers.

Oh well.

Another major problem is buying all the tools and accessories you need to use for these awesome new techniques and instead it all just ends up in a drawer.

Like this one.

Thus, my need to find more uses for my dust drawer contents.

Today let’s talk about sheen dust.  This is more commonly referred to as luster dust or pearl dust. You can use this type of dust to create a metallic looking finish to your projects. I call it a sheen dust because the base you use underneath the dust plays a role in the resulting finish. For example, painting gold dust onto a white surface and a black surface will give you two very different golds. (For more information on matte dust, you can check out my post here.)

I discovered sheen dust from a class on Bluprint. I immediately ordered a set of the metallic sheen dusts, and stuck them in a drawer. Since then I have slowly amassed my collection from going to the cake supply store and impulse buying at the register.

In a rare case of luck, I was able to use one of them on a cake about 9 months later.

I even got to make a wafer paper flower. Score!

When I need a large surface covered with a metallic finish, it is much easier to use a spray like the Wilton Pearl sprays or to airbrush the finish. In the picture above, I used clear alcohol and the dust to do all the painting. On the cake below, I used the Wilton Color Mist on a buttercream surface.

For smaller areas, I have found that sheen dust adds exactly the right metallic finish to my designs, and I definitely look for ways to incorporate them into projects, like highlighting the headlights on car cookies or painting my fondant flowers.

The flower is painted with gold dust and clear alcohol.
The leaf is matte dust and clear alcohol.

This type of dust is versatile in that in can be used dry or wet to create different finishes on your project. Dry, it can be used to give a subtle shimmer to gum paste, fondant, candy coatings, and royal icing. Here are examples of Super Gold dust used dry and wet on different backgrounds.

Super Gold on white, black, and chocolate fondant. Tops are brushed with dry dust, bottoms painted with dust and clear alcohol.

 It can also be used to customize your sprinkles or elevate fresh fruit to a whole new level of wow. For sprinkles, just dump a little dust into the container and shake. If you only want a small portion of the sprinkles coated, dump them into a small jar or plastic baggie instead.

Black and White Jimmies before adding dust
Black and White Jimmies after shaking in Amethyst Dust.

When mixed with a clear extract or alcohol it can be used as a paint. Add a little alcohol or extract at a time to get the desired consistency. Paint on your project with a dedicated, food-only paintbrush. If you want a second coat, be sure to let the first coat dry completely before applying the next layer of color.

[UPDATE: Recently I discovered another medium to use when painting with dust called confectioner’s glaze. It smelled awful when I put it on, but once the alcohol evaporated, there was no smell that remained. It paints much smoother on larger areas and leaves an additional shine (it’s basically edible lacquer). I recommend the thinner as well. It is very hard to clean the brush without it. A very high proof alcohol or rubbing alcohol are the only other cleaning agents that will work.]

confectioner's glaze vs. clear alcohol with the luster dust
Top: fondant painted with confectioner’s glaze and gold dust
Bottom: fondant painted with clear alcohol and gold dust

I discovered the use of pearl dust on fresh fruit from watching this free episode of Man About Cake on YouTube. Joshua John Russell has most amazing show where you get awesome ideas, tips, and tricks for cake decorating and design.

Boring Blackberries
Fancy Blackberries after adding Amethyst Dust

For a sheen that is more of a combo metallic and glitter, the Wilton Pearl Dust is great. It can be used to highlight dimensional projects like molded fondant flowers.

The gold flower is painted with Super Gold Sheen Dust and clear alcohol, the green flower and leaf are painted with Wilton Pearl Dust and clear alcohol.
Sheen Dust vs. Wilton Pearl Dust
Sheen dust on the left and Wilton Pearl Dust on the right

And because I can’t think of enough uses to warrant an entire post, the third major type of dust is glitter dust or disco dust. It is basically just non-toxic glitter. It gives a great touch of sparkle to projects, and a little goes a long way to creating an extra bit of wow.

After the coating set, I painted the cake pops with piping gel before adding the glitter.

Be careful though, when people ask you if it is edible, and you say, “Well, it is non-toxic.”, they can get a little out of sorts with you for feeding them glitter. Don’t worry too much though, they will still eat a second cake pop. 😊


If you have uses for sheen dust or glitter 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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