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Guide for lettering?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Not sure whether to put this here or under how-to:

On last year's Leland Awards cake, I had trouble keeping the letters at a consistent size: they kept getting noticeably smaller as I went from left to right. (There are pictures in my "baked goods" set on Flickr; see the link in my signature.)

Can anybody suggest a way to keep the size consistent across a line? Maybe something analogous to penciling in cap-height, x-height, base, and descender lines, and possibly the letters themselves, for hand-lettering in ink or paint on something non-edible?

Maybe scratch guides into the frosting before piping?

I'm not one to reinvent the wheels, and surely this wheel has already been invented.

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

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James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply
post #2 of 24
Wilton do letters you can press in and then use the imprint as a guide.
post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl View Post

Not sure whether to put this here or under how-to:

On last year's Leland Awards cake, I had trouble keeping the letters at a consistent size: they kept getting noticeably smaller as I went from left to right. (There are pictures in my "baked goods" set on Flickr; see the link in my signature.)

Can anybody suggest a way to keep the size consistent across a line? Maybe something analogous to penciling in cap-height, x-height, base, and descender lines, and possibly the letters themselves, for hand-lettering in ink or paint on something non-edible?

Maybe scratch guides into the frosting before piping?

I'm not one to reinvent the wheels, and surely this wheel has already been invented.


I have the same problem, James, and another one besides:  my writing slants downward so that each letter sits a little lower than the one before. I always think I'm watching this carefully but it still happens every time!!

post #4 of 24

You can definitely use a toothpick and "stipple" the letters into the base coat of icing before you actually pipe them, or print off a template and use it to practice piping letters.

 

I do recommend using the back of your cake pan to practice so you can get your sense of space.

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

Idea:

 

Using unwaxed dental floss (the only contaminant-free stringlike substance I can think of that's intended to go in a person's mouth) stretched across the lettering area for base, x-height, cap-height, and descender lines, "use a toothpick and 'stipple' the letters," as Annie suggests. Then remove the dental floss and pipe. Think that would work?

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply
post #6 of 24

Absolutely!

post #7 of 24

On crusted buttercream cakes I sometimes print the letters on the computer on card stock paper, prick the letters with a pin, place the paper on the cake and run over it with a fondant smoother, remove the paper and then follow the pricks with piping.  Otherwise, I use a laser beam level that I originally bought to help hang pictures straight.  You shine the beam across the cake and pipe the letters on the line.  I suppose you could use more than one if you needed more guidelines.

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
I think I like my dental floss idea better: a few feet of dental floss, and a few toothpicks, are a lot cheaper than multiple laser levels. icon_smile.gif

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply
post #9 of 24

That's fine.  I can get by with just one laser beam that we already had on hand and it just shines across the cake so that it doesn't leave any marks at all.  But if you need more lines (like a tablet paper) I can understand that purchasing several lasers could be expensive.  Just trying to help.

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
I ended up just doing base and cap-height lines, and the x-height and the one descender (on a non-lining "3" in "2013") managed to take care of themselves. But the dental floss worked, and I now have a roll of unwaxed dental floss in the utensil drawer (it's of little use in the bathroom; for normal use, I prefer cinnamon-waxed!)

And I ended up scribing, rather than stippling, the letters in with the toothpick.

Not perfect, but I think it's an improvement on last year. Photo to follow, when I have some time to drop the resolution, upload it to Flickr, and get a link to it on my computer at work (Flickr's slick, high-performance user interface is really sucky on my "bionic desk lamp" iMac, and my dial-up connection).

But I'm firmly convinced that I need some brown food coloring: I added McCormick drop-by-drop, lots of cinnamon, and some ground clove to the frosting I mixed for the lettering, and I couldn't get it any darker than, say, chicken gravy. Then again, I have some ideas for edible printing for the lettering on next year's cake.

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elaine2581 View Post
 

Otherwise, I use a laser beam level that I originally bought to help hang pictures straight.  You shine the beam across the cake and pipe the letters on the line.  I suppose you could use more than one if you needed more guidelines.

 

Awesome idea!  I would never have thought of that.  You could just sit it on something the same height as the cake and aim it across the top where you want the lettering.  Move it for the second line, etc.  I'm adding that to my arsenal of things I want to try.  :)

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl View Post


But I'm firmly convinced that I need some brown food coloring: I added McCormick drop-by-drop, lots of cinnamon, and some ground clove to the frosting I mixed for the lettering, and I couldn't get it any darker than, say, chicken gravy. Then again, I have some ideas for edible printing for the lettering on next year's cake.

 

 or cocoa powder

one baker's never ever do is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
 
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one baker's never ever do is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
 
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post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl View Post
 

Idea:

 

Using unwaxed dental floss (the only contaminant-free stringlike substance I can think of that's intended to go in a person's mouth) stretched across the lettering area for base, x-height, cap-height, and descender lines, "use a toothpick and 'stipple' the letters," as Annie suggests. Then remove the dental floss and pipe. Think that would work?


James, do you mean actually mark the cake with the dental floss, or just lay it on top as a guide? If you mark it, then those marks (lines) actually have to remain on your cake? Just trying to envision what you're talking about.

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Laid across the cake, stretched between toothpicks. Not a perfect solution yet, because I couldn't quite maintain the tension, but better than freehand. Then scribe the letters into the frosting, just deep enough to know where you're piping.

And as to cocoa powder, well, (1) I don't eat chocolate, and (2) it would fight with the flavors that are already present.

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl View Post

Laid across the cake, stretched between toothpicks. Not a perfect solution yet, because I couldn't quite maintain the tension, but better than freehand. Then scribe the letters into the frosting, just deep enough to know where you're piping.

And as to cocoa powder, well, (1) I don't eat chocolate, and (2) it would fight with the flavors that are already present.

have you considered using plastic chocolate molds for candy coating letters?  they come in quite a few sizes, and you can lay them carefully on the top of the cake.  Also the white candy coating is a neutral flavor.  (I have to do these kind of things as I can't write at all with piped icing)

~~We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman  
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~~We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman  
Flowers
(3 photos)
Halloween
(4 photos)
Cupcakes!
(18 photos)
Reply
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