One of my favorite local gift shops recently had these fabulous candy topiaries on display in their window
but when I inquired about purchasing one I was told they weren't for sale - that they were for display only.
So what's a gal to do when she is told "No"?
She takes a photo of the "NFS Display Only" items, buys a boat load of candy, plugs in her glue gun and gets to craft'n, of course.
Here's what I came up with:
Sugared fruits and large and small gummy round disks were purchased at World Market and are by Haribo. Vertical sugared sour tubes were from Target.
Jumbo red, green and white gumballs are from World Market.
Small gumballs, and all varieties of peppermints are from the Dollar Store.
Turns out I'm glad the nice people at J'Adore wouldn't sell me a topiary because I wouldn't have had the fun of making them myself - and they were FUN!
Here are a few of the things I learned as I made my candy topiaries. If you decide to make some I hope these tips save you time and some money.
First stop was a quick trip to Michaels for Styrofoam cones. I'm sure they are available at Hobby Lobby too. I purchased three cones from 9" to 18" tall.
Helpful Hint #1: Although the cones are available at least five sizes, I suggest starting with a smaller to mid size cone. These take a lot of candy to cover and the first one I did took me about three hours to complete. I did get faster with each consecutive one but you should consider any time constraints that you might have as well as the attention span of those doing the decorating. I think this would be a great project for teens as well as adults. Since you will be working with hot glue I feel it isn't an appropriate project for children.
Next you'll need to purchase candy. Lots of candy! As I was constructing my topiaries I realized they were a lot like planning and constructing a quilt with the same elements of design to consider: color, repetition, texture, shape and scale.
Helpful Hint #2: Try keeping your candy colors to two to four. Although it's tempting to use all the colors in the rainbow, in my opinion, your topiaries will be more visually appealing if you use fewer colors. You can create interest by varying the candy shapes, sizes and textures. Repeating colors and shapes as you build your topiary from the bottom to the top will result in a cohesive design.
Gumballs, M&M's and peppermints are good candy choices. Peppermint disks and sticks are inexpensive and the sticks can be cut with a serrated knife. Candy canes add a fun shape while repeating the red and white theme.
Helpful Hint #3: Start your candy shopping at the Dollar Store. I found lots of gum ball (my favorite) options there and was surprised at the large variety they carried. I spent over $100 on candy for the three topiaries that I built however I had lots of left over candy. Some candy that I purchased just didn't work well for topiaries (Skittles, Ike & Mike, Dots).
Helpful Hint #4: Consider the size of the candy that you purchase. Although M&M's work well for accent candies, smaller candies just take too long to cover the Styrofoam. Big gumballs and those big round flat disks I found at World Market were my favorite for making quick progress.
Helpful Hint #5: Buy multiple bags of the same candy. Our Dollar Store had some bags of gumballs with all red gumballs but to get green or white gumballs I had to buy multiple bags of assorted colors to get enough of one color. Remember, the bigger the cone, the larger the circumference, and the more candy you'll need to go all the way around.
Once you feel like you have a good selection (again like quilting you'll need a stash) open, unwrap and sort the candy by color, shape and size.
It's good to have everything out so you know what your creative options are.
Working on a piece of wax paper or parchment start gluing from the bottom of the Styrofoam cone, building your way up in rows. I didn't plan my topiaries in advance, I just started gluing. Try to use just a small dab of hot glue applied directly to the candy and try to control the "spider webs" as you go.
Helpful Hint #6: If you glue something down that you decide you don't love, simply pry it off and try something else. These are forgiving and the Styrofoam is resilient.
Helpful Hint #7: I kept a pair of tweezers and an orange stick handy to help apply and remove unwanted candies.
Once you have covered the Styrofoam cone look for stray hot glue webs and give your topiary a brushing with a stiff paint brush to remove any webs or candy crumbs. Display on a candle stick or cake stand if you have them.
I hope this has been helpful. Please share your creations and experiences with us here. Most of all Have Fun!
Encourage one another,