Tutorials and Demos
As mentioned on the main tutorials page, in most of my new royal icing tutorials you will see me pipe transfers only. I've given the reasons for this here, should you have missed them.
On this introductory page to my royal icing tutorials, I will show you the tools I use and share some thoughts on how to plan the piping sequence of a royal icing transfer.
So let's continue with what's...
Good to Have on Hand
Or Stuff I Use in My Royal Icing Tutorials
Here are some items I work with most of the time when piping with royal icing and that you most likely will see me use in the video tutorials. Again, if you're used to something else and it works for you, then go with that.
Most of the images below link to an Amazon product to show you the specifications, or just as an example.
If a royal icing tutorial requires other specific items, it will be noted in its instructions.
- A small turntable – I wouldn’t want to do without mine, which is a heavy-duty one like shown in the first picture. I opted for this because sometimes I use a fairly large and heavy glass plate with it for larger artworks and/or when I do isomalt work.
But if you plan on doing only regular-sized cookies/transfers and/or use only a smaller plate with it, one with a flat surface like shown in the second photo would do:
- I prefer to work with several flat round plates, so I can just switch them out when working on different projects, or different parts of an artwork. The ones I use are glass and marble cheese trays like below. I picked them up at a thrift store, but Amazon sells them too. Wood would work as well. But if you are, or ever plan on, working with isomalt, just don't go with plastic :-P.
The size I use most is about 25 cm (10 inches), but I have others that are over 30 cm (> 12 inches) for when I need more space, especially when working with isomalt. If you go with anything larger than say 6 inches, make sure the plates are round. When you're bent over your work, the corners of a larger square plate will most likely hit against your chest when you turn it. Not a good thing when you're in the middle of piping a circle :-).
If you do use this system, it's important that the plates don't move around on the turntable. That's why I stick non-slip or anti-skid pads to their undersides, such as shown in the second image.
- Clear plastic/acetate sheets: In my royal icing tutorials, you'll see me use just sheet protectors. I like them because they are not too sleek and will help dry the transfers faster, plus they are non-glare. Parchment paper would be another option for this, but I prefer plastic, as it is clear and easier on my eyes.
- A set of small brushes for correcting, filling, smoothing, and of course painting... A brush is much gentler when filling small outlines, but it's easier to push icing into really narrow spaces with a scribe tool.
- A PME scribe tool, toothpick, small skewer, sowing needle, or similar.
If you want to measure your parchment cone tip openings they way I do, then you would need the PME scriber needle, as not all needles are the same size, and you would not get the same result.
The way I measure my tip openings is by sticking this needle into the cut hole from the inside of the cone. This also will round out the hole nicely. If the needle sticks out about 3 mm, the hole will be about the equivalent of a PME #0 tip; 5 mm equals about a PME #1. Anything larger than that, you'll have to eyeball :-).
Yes, the tip of my needle is blackend (2nd image)... I quite abused my scribe with isomalt work :>}!
- A small, sharp nail scissors to cut the holes into your parchment cone tips. Your icing will come out smoother than with a ragged edge.
- Parchment paper to transfer design elements onto royal icing, and if you want to use parchment paper cones for decorating as you see me do in my royal icing tutorials.
What I'm using is a German brand of what they call butter-bread or sandwich paper. The rolls are about 2.5 cm (1 inch) shorter than the regular parchment paper that is usually sold in the USA and other places. I quite like it for cones, as the paper is not as sleek and a bit thinner.
But I've found Deli Dry Wrap Wax Paper Sheets with Dispenser Box on Amazon which I think I'd prefer even more. They are not square, like most decorators use for cones, but I prefer rectangles like these. I'll show you in an upcoming video on how I make them.
- A box cutter, the larger kind with the long retractable blades, to lift off small transfers from a taped-down plastic sheet. The short-bladed ones will not work as they can't be held flat enough to the surface.
- A Food Dehydrator: For many years when living in the States, I used to have an Excalibur. It was perfect for our big family (4 kids), and we just about dried anything in it, but mainly beef jerkey and all kinds of dried fruit bars and veggies. I just know it would be perfect now for sweet artworks that are taller, because one could just remove the upper trays. Making myself a note here to get mine back on a visit over there ;-).
But of course, if you're only drying flat cookies, any other model will do the job just as well... as long as it lets you control the temperature, which all of them should.
What else should you always have next to you while following one of my royal icing tutorials? A small, stable bowl of water that can't tip over and maybe ruin your work, and some paper towels - or fabric towels, if you prefer. You will be using these to moisten and dry your brushes.
Studying a Sugar Art Design
Before I begin with piping a more complex sugar art design with royal icing (which I usually design using a vector program like the free Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator), I
try to establish the piping sequence:
- The main contemplation is: What are the layers? What parts should appear to be further back, and what parts need to be piped first, because they will be covered at least partially by another element?
- And are there certain elements that need special
considerations? For instance, does a part need to be dried longer, because
pressure will be put on it (for instance, when transferring a design), or because it will be added on top of wet icing
(to prevent color bleeding, especially when using very saturated
- Do we want to hide certain sections of
previously piped elements, like connections that otherwise would take up unnecessary time to make look nice (I'm consciously not choosing the work 'perfect'
here ;-) ).
- Will certain elements be painted, and therefore should be
fully dried, before they will be covered with a layer of alcohol or water
diluted food coloring? Or might it be easier to paint certain
elements if they were not already surrounded by other icing (making it easier and/or faster)?
So you see, taking your time to think about the process will
surely pay off and prevent some unhappy moments into the piping process,
especially if you're dealing with a more complex design. It sucks to have to
find out that you should have done another step earlier in the process, then
have to take more time to figure out how to correct the mistake, undertake a
makeshift solution, or start from the beginning all together.
Now Let's Get to the Actual
Royal Icing Tutorials and Demos :-)
At the moment, I only have two royal icing tutorials and a couple of demos available. And only my latest, The Purple Owl, has its own dedicated pages:
The Purple Owl: My newest royal icing tutorial that has its own pages; with video,
in-depth transcript, and
Page 1: Prerequisites, Parts of the Tutorial, Figuring Out the Layers & Piping Sequence, Share Your Finished Owl
Page 2: Colors Used, General Guidelines incl. how to cut and measure the cone tip opening
Page 3: Template, Video, and In-Depth Transcript
(text contains more info than the video)
A demo with template and notes, showing the royal icing paper quilling technique.
How to Knit the Basic Knit Stitch with Royal Icing:
A royal icing video tutorial with template showing the knitting technique.
The Making of the Alien Owl Queen:
A demo with template showing the royal icing frilling technique.
Want to keep me motivated to share sugar art tutorials and demos with you?