ok, my problem is, i have all these great ideas in my head, but to get my hands to do them is another story!! i can't keep my hands steady at all! not to do a simple straight line, a curvy line, nothing!! what should i do?
any suggestions? did anyone else have this issue starting out? even with those pattern things you can use, i have those, i can't even follow the lines on those, what gives????
Practice makes perfect!!!!
When piping, string work or straight lines...I do three things, always.
1. Steady your right hand by gently touching the index finger of your left hand to the decorating bag just above the tip. You will be amazed how much this steadies the tip.
2. Stand with your feet apart about 12 inches, so as you go across the cake you do not get out of balance, causing your string to go astray.
3. Make a tiny dot in the icing where you want the string to begin and where you want it to end. You then start the string....and shift your eyes to the ending mark. Your hand will automatically make a straight line from one point to the other. For curvy lines....think the finished look...then just do it.
I always have my students practice making lines of any kind (even writing) by letting the icing drop out of the tip (like you are dangling a string) and laying it down rather than drawing it on. Let it drop out from about 1/2" over the surface. For some reason it is easier to maintain a nice clean line this way. Of course this will only work on flat surfaces, but you might gain some experience and confidence this way so you can move on.
I also do what BCJean does by holding my left index finger against the coupler or top of the tip to steady my hand.
Consistency of icing is also really important in lines. Make sure you're using the right one.
Hope it helps!
I have found that I can "nudge" a crooked line that I've made with a damp paintbrush. I fix all my boo-boos that way. It also helps to lay off the coffee or other caffeine on the day you need to do alot of piping!
I have the shaky hand syndrome too....lol! It usually shows up when I need to write on a cake or do delicate work. I do what other pp have mentioned by keeping my fingertips on the piping bag helping to guide the other hand. When I am writing, I plant myself with my feet shoulder-width apart, and then I kinda sway (sound ridiculous) along with the movement of my hand. Works for me.
But I have also found that if my icing isn't the right consistency then I end up struggling and squeezing harder than I should. I also only fill my icing bags only half full, or a little more, and I make sure that my icing is the right consistency for what I need to do.
I've also noticed I can do a better job of piping if I'm as "on top" of my cake as much as possible. One time I had to write about 3-4 lines of scripture on a full sheet cake, so I grabbed a stepping stool, stood on the top step and bent over the cake. It was almost like that scene in Mission Impossible. I think that's the only time I've ever gotten multiple lines of script straight on a cake. It's because of that that I almost always write on a cake on a slant. I figure if I can't make a straight line, then I'll intentionally make it crooked! (check my basic floral cake in my pics for what I mean)
I find if I go slowly and carefully I will mess up every time. For me, I need to go faster so it doesn't go all 'loopy' on me.
Use a smaller bag. I learned this in Toba's Australian Stringwork class. She had us put about 2 tablespoons of icing in a parchment bag. You get much more control of the bag that way.