The most recent task was an Olympic Torch for my son's Olympics Day at school. I had to go with paper for that one... lots of glue, staples, and sticky-tape...really not my natural element!
But give me a task to make something out of tylose or modeling paste, and I can't wait to get my hands dirty, literally: most days my hands and nails are tinted various shades of gel-colour.
Tylose comes in the form of a powder, which you can then make up into a paste, or mix into fondant (fondant is commonly referred to as "plastic" icing in South Africa).
You can even make an edible glue out of it.
Because you can roll tylose paste out really thin, it is great for making flowers, butterflies and all sorts of other delicate edible decorations. You can colour the paste with gel-colours or powdered colours, or paint it once it has dried.
You can also model figures out of it. I prefer to model things out of a mix of tylose and fondant, though - it doesn't dry out as quickly, so it is easier to mould and shape. And it also doesn't dry rock hard the way pure tylose paste does. So if a child does try to take a bite out of the fairy or teddy bear (which 90% of the time they do!) they're not going to be cracking any teeth : )
1 egg white (large egg)
Approx 2 cups sifted icing sugar
2 level tsp tylose powder (from baking supply stores)
Holsum (white veg fat - find it by the butter and margarine in the supermarket)
In a small bowl, break up the egg white with a fork.
Add 1 cup sifted icing sugar.
Mix well. The consistency will be runny.
Sprinkle the tylose on top of this, add 1/2 cup icing sugar. Mix well with a fork. Slowly add more icing sugar until the paste is too stiff to mix with the fork
Turn onto a surface sprinkled with icing sugar.
Rub some Holsum onto your hands, and knead the paste until non-sticky, adding icing sugar as you knead to...I mean need to ; )
Knead it until smooth.
Divide it into 2 balls and store in small plastic bags, or cling-wrap. Then store these bags in an air-tight container.
Tylose paste dries quickly when exposed to air, so make sure to keep it wrapped. If it does develop a crusty edge, just cut that away - you can still work with the un-crusted paste.
When you roll the paste out, first smear a little Holsum on your work surface.
You can roll it out very thinly - especially if you're doing petals or butterflies. (You should be able to see printed writing through it.)
Use egg boxes, folded card, foil - whatever- to dry your cut-out pieces into the shape you desire. I use plastic containers that the mini-eggs come in at Easter to dry my flowers in little cup-shapes.
Store your decorations in cardboard boxes, not airtight plastic containers.
To model figures, simply add a small amount of tylose powder to your fondant; add more if the fondant isn't firm enough to maintain it's shape. Don't overdo it - it will become unworkable. About 1/2tsp for a tennis-ball sized volume of Fondant should do it, or 5mls tylose powder to 250g fondant if you like to be more exact ; )
Or you can make modeling paste by mixing the fondant with tylose paste in equal proportions.
I do both, but adding powder directly to the fondant is what I use most.
The powder looks like it's clumping. It is! - but leave it overnight, and it will all dissolve.
Store it in a lidded container. Discard when it is no longer clear.