How do you improve your writing?

Hi everyone. I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for improving writing in royal icing. I practice, practice, practice, but I haven't gotten any better. I find that my letters either twist when they shouldn't, or stay straight when I want them to curve. I think a lower case cursive 'L' is my best example. I can curve the line going up, but coming back down it ends up straight. Anyway, any tips would help me. Thank you!

Piping Hot

Shannon Phelan

Original Post

I find that to get nice writing consistency of the icing is crucial.  You need it loose enough to flow with your hand but stiff enough that the small parts don't run into eachother. I also steady my writing hand with the other hand and of course a KopyKake is extremely helpful in getting every cookie to be uniform.

Good luck

go to your word software, select font type(s), do the alphabet - lower and upper case, type in italics any phrase you want.  Save it.  I do mine on acetate, photo album film, and I bought Project Life dividers (used for photo album ???  I forget what they are used for lol).  These Project Life strips are too wide or too long.  The others that I use have been cut down to make it easier for me to handle.  

Oh!; if your handwriting is nice then all you have to do is write out what you want (instead of doing the Word suggestion.  However, Word has many fonts you can choose from...

Hope this helps.

In addition, I do this also for practicing lines etc.  Another suggestion is to get a cake board and cover it with seal n press, or with plastic wrap.  With the plastic wrap you will have to hold the bottom over stove burner - no too close - which seals it.  You can write words on the cake board - any design, and use over and over.

I want to clarify a part of my response to you, and add something to it.  If you use a cake board, put your writing on it before covering with plastic wrap.  The other thing I wanted to add is you could also use Wilton piping gel.  Stir it well before using. 

And, lastly, thank you to everyone that liked my responses.   (I still can't get nice writing or initialing myself hahahhahaaa).

Originally Posted by donaharrisburg:

I want to clarify a part of my response to you, and add something to it.  If you use a cake board, put your writing on it before covering with plastic wrap.  The other thing I wanted to add is you could also use Wilton piping gel.  Stir it well before using. 

And, lastly, thank you to everyone that liked my responses.   (I still can't get nice writing or initialing myself hahahhahaaa).

Thanks for the tips. I'll have to try using the piping gel.

I find that it helps if I write it out on the cookie in a complimentary color with an edible marker, or paint it on with a tiny paintbrush using thinned gel food coloring. Then I only have to trace over it with the icing. Be careful to leave enough space for the thickness of your icing lines though, because you can make much tighter loops and such with a pen than with icing. I usually end my script on the letter before any "t" or "l", then just move up and start my "t" at the top. Sort of cheating, and I hope it just looks like the font was supposed to be that way.

You can write your words on tracing paper, then flip it over (so the words won't be backwards), to get the design. Simply place wax paper, acetate, glass, or even clean recycled transparent packaging from other foods over the backwards design and trace it lightly with a very small round tip. You can then turn it over and gently touch it to the surface of the cookie. If you lift it off carefully, it will leave behind a wet icing "stamp" of the letters for you to trace with a slightly larger tip. You may even be able to "stamp" more than one cookie before tracing with more icing. It works best if you pipe over the design while it is still wet, then clean off your letters and pipe fresh icing to prevent trying to stamp with partly crusted icing. (Hint: Put a flashlight or a string of white twinkle lights inside a clear bin, then use the flat top or bottom as a lightbox to help see your design for tracing.)

If the basecoat of your cookie is smooth and thoroughly dry (overnight), you can create a guideline with fishing line or thread to keep your writing straight. Tape one end of the thread onto something the same thickness as your cookie, place the thread across the cookie just taught enough to keep it straight, then tape down the loose end to something on the other side. Keep it loose enough that it won't bite into the icing, and you will have a nice straight "line" to write your words above. Remove carefully or slide the cookie up to start on the next line. This was how I learned to keep my words from heading "downhill" while I was busy concentrating on piping each individual letter.

I saw a video by Montreal Confections that showed how to pipe an outline onto fine mesh mounted in an embrodery hoop, then airbrush over it onto your cookie. The airbrush paint will color every part of your cookie surface, except where the lines block it, leaving a "shadow" of unpainted cookie in the shape of your design. You could leave it like that, or pipe over it. I am planning to try this by misting with a spray bottle since I don't have an airbrush, or use luster spray if necessary.

Now that I think about it, you could simply tape or tie the previously mentioned thread lines to an embrodery hoop. It would be at the perfect height, and easy to lift off without smudging your beautiful new writing. (Thanks Montreal!) Now if they would just invent masking tape with food-safe adhesive, I would be in cookier nirvana!
Because I didn't write a long enough reply, just one more tip. If you are piping with a metal tip that has a seam down one side, or if your icing is too stiff, the line of icing can tend to come out going slightly sideways in one direction or another. Usually the wrong direction, lol. Try thinning your icing slightly, or watch Julia Usher's brilliant tutorials on making and using parchment cones instead of using a metal tip.

There may be other food-safe tapes out there since this thread last left off, but this spurred me to do a search b/c YES that would be a godsend, especially on royal icing! Even better if it was a bit repositionable, similar to...I'm thinking how I use painter's tape/washi tape on non-food projects haha.  Just saw a product by First Impressions Molds, their "Food Safe Cake Tape"...description sounds promising. Wish it listed what constitutes their food-safe adhesive, though. But curious if anyone has tried it or knows of similar products! 

Amazing ideas on this thread from everyone, by the way, thanks for sharing!!

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