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 fondant 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 (or CMC) 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 / CMC 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.
To make tylose glue, simply add just less than 1/ 2 tsp tylose powder to 250ml (1 cup) boiling water.
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.