It's been QUITE awhile since I've been here... But I'm just wondering - How many tiers of solid scrollwork can you do before your hand or wrist just says "ENOUGH!"?
My cousin has asked me to make her wedding cake, and she wants all the tiers covered in tight, tidy scrollwork. The scrollwork itself isn't a problem, really - it's just the huge amount of it. She'll need 4 or 5 tiers or so to get the number of servings she needs.
I dunno... It sounds simple enough, but I'd hate to get into it and then find my hand give out halfway through. The thought of that many tiers of scrollwork gives me flashbacks of icing just 80-ish teddy bear cupcakes with stiff American buttercream through a grass tip. UGH. I think I wanted to gnaw my own hand off after about 50 or 60 of them.
...But maybe scrollwork with a nice, silky SMBC might not be so murderous on the hands...?
Why not explore another, but similar, option such as molded fondant scroll work or the spreadable lace made from Sugarveil or Sugar Dress, etc. Much quicker and saves your wrists at the same time!
The SMBC isn't as bad, but my hand will be bothering me about halfway through one tier at this point! Take lots of time to stretch your fingers out and rest and it will be fine. But really, if you're used to doing it with royal icing or a confectioner's sugar buttercream you'll kick yourself for never doing it with a meringue buttercream, it's so much easier.
it's maybe some easier with a meringue icing but you deal with a lot of melty icing too when your hand melts it -- some people use two bags and put it back & forth in the fridge
i use a small parchment bag and i get my buttercream loose where slight pressure on the bag will produce results -- i wrap my fingers around the bag but i squeeze with the part of my hand under my thumb -- (i asked my husband what that part of your hand is called -- he said "the thumb attachment" :)
i make it so there is hardly any pressure needing to be applied and i cut the parchment bag tip so i don't have to fiddle with tubes of any kind --
when you need to do grass use loose icing --i'm retired now with rheumatoid but it's worse in my non-dominant hand because i had more blood flow in my piping hand and i taught myself to pipe where it never damaged me anywhere -- and i piped for hours on end for years and years -- if it hurts you're doing something wrong --
arthritis foundation has aqua/water exercises you can do to strengthen and hopefully help repair damaged hands -- my husband does them now with me and it helps him too
should not be hurting you -- fix your icing use less in the bag
If you're not using one, try buying a fingerless craft glove to use when you have a lot of piping to do. They sell them in the knitting/needlework section of the craft stores, and the decorator I learned from recommended using one for piping intensive stuff. For me it makes a huge difference in how long I can pipe before my hand starts cramping up. They massage and support the muscles while you're working.
Here's the one I have:
There's usually a measuring guide on the back of the package to put your hand against and see what size you need. And they're washable, which is good since I always manage to get icing on mine.
and obviously you're not up to speed right now me neither -- plan it all out with extra time and take breaks -- soak your hand in ice water in between for a few -- divide the largest tier into quarters or thirds and take a 15 - 30 minute break in between each section -- or get the linear length of the whole shebang and divide it all up even steven -- pipe/take a break/soak hand/repeat -- you'll be finished in no time --
so to answer your question (pre rheumatoid) --
how many tiers of scrollwork before your hands give up? answer: all of them ;)