As florists, we like to think we’re rather adept at spotting the real thing when it comes to flowers, and of course, in most scenarios, that would be correct. The sugar-based creations of Robert Haynes, on the other hand, are so extraordinarily lifelike you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t beguiled by their delicate beauty. A self-taught artist with a lifelong appreciation of botany, Robert has refined his sweet skills over several decades. A true master of his art, Robert teaches his craft at his south-west London Sugar Flower Studio and is currently developing his first range of bespoke sugar flower tools.
Follow Robert and his masterful creations on Instagram @sugar_flower_studio
Tell us about yourself and what you do, Robert.
I’m an internationally acclaimed sugar flower artist, from the Sugar Flower Studio in London. I specialise in teaching botanically correct sugar flowers, and as a self-taught artist, I have developed my own techniques and styles. I’m immensely proud to say many of my students have gone on to win gold awards in various categories in some of the toughest international competitions.
My career has taken me all over the world, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe, South America and South-East Asia; giving demonstrations, teaching private classes one to one, as well as individual groups and masterclasses. I’m also regularly approached for judging sugar flower categories at various international shows, corporate events and giving inspirational talks.
How do you achieve such an incredible level of realism in your work?
I’ve spent the last 36 years perfecting my techniques through trial and error and repetition. In school, I was often told off by the teacher for making rose petals in Blu Tack underneath my desk and creating tiny roses. I suppose my career was just meant to be!
How did your passion for botany begin?
Being a bit of a loner as a child, I spent every lunchtime tending and watering the various plants in the school greenhouse. I came alive in rural studies, a subject I excelled at. I was mesmerized and captivated after growing mustard cress on a damp piece of cotton wool inside an upturned hard-boiled egg shell. Watching seedlings grow and developing their first leaves is fascinating in my view, there is nothing better than watching mother nature unfolding her beauty.
Do you have a particular flower that you love to create?
I especially love making orchids. They are so unusual and sculptural with a vibrant array of intense colours. I also love to make roses. The rose is one of the most difficult flowers to replicate – its shape, formation, texture and colour is extremely hard to master.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love to teach. I believe a true teacher should empower, and share all that he or she knows with each of their students… I love to see the sheer joy on every student’s face when they achieve results they never thought possible. It makes me immensely proud and nourishes my passion for teaching.
What can students expect to learn at the Sugar Flower Studio?
Masterclasses consist of six to 12 students. I believe in imparting all my knowledge, expertise and tricks of the trade onto each valued student, enabling them to recreate the most botanically correct and realistic sugar flowers. I am very passionate about what I do and strive to offer the best instructions tailored to each student’s needs.
My classes are not for the faint-hearted, however; it can be intense and hard work but immensely fun at the same time. Each student will leave with the tools and skills they need to create beautiful sugar flowers time and again.
What are you currently working on at the moment?
My brand-new website will be launched just before Christmas. I have been working very hard for three years creating a new range of botanically correct silicone veiners which I make from home. These are then processed into master moulds in the US by my manufacturer. The silicone veiners are made by using the best platinum-based food grade silicone on the market and will be shipped worldwide.
What’s in store for the future?
I look forward to meeting and teaching new students. I will be working on expanding the silicone veiner and cutter range and will be developing a new line of sugarcraft tools and edible coloured dusts. A book will definitely be published one day…
All images Copyright © Robert Haynes