Monday, October 7, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Modern Piping

modern piping cake decorating online class at Craftsy.comThis class was taught by Joshua John Russell, and claims to be about piping. It's an older class, but due to the apparent woeful state of piping skills these days, I decided to watch it. I had originally thought that it wouldn't be worth reviewing because doesn't every cake decorator know how to pipe things? Well, I guess that isn't true, which I find SHOCKING. Shocking, I say!

The class is super basic. It does go over everything that you'd need to know about tools, including equipment, making royal icing, and how to make black royal icing. (I can't really believe that he felt the need to tell people to only use food coloring and not paint to make black icing, but yeah...) However, it's not really about piping so much as using a little piping to enhance other types of decorations.

He demonstrated some helpful ways to practice piping, including grounding yourself so that your arm isn't wiggling all over. I don't do that in as extreme a way as he does, but it's something to be aware of. HOWEVER...He didn't really demonstrate the specifics of piping, he just tells you to practice until you get the hang of it.

He also shows how to transfer patterns and how to "freehand" patterns, which doesn't really involve freehanding anything, but instead means that you paint the pattern on before piping it. He also goes over using stencils with royal icing on fondant.

And now we come to my biggest gripe with this class. It's all fondant once again. Even though it's supposedly about piping, it really should be called "how to decorate a fondant cake with minimal piping and lots of fondant decorations." There are sections on it for making fondant, stencilled, and gumpaste decorations that you then pipe a little bit of decoration around. If I had come to watch a lesson about how to pipe with buttercream, on a buttercream cake, which is what most of my clients want, I'd be out of luck.

I assume that this is because piping is actually something that you have to practice, over and over and over. And that it isn't something that you can watch one class about and end up with the skills to do decent piping without that work. Which is evident in some of the questions that people have posted...Basically, "help me, what am I doing wrong?" There are so many insta-techniques being sold these days, people seem to think that they should be able to pick up a piping bag and not have to work at it. Oh no, my lovelies, that isn't how piping works.

This class would be useful for a total piping noob who wants to use a little bit of piped decoration to add to fondant. If you want to actually learn how to pipe things, though, you'll have to practice, and this other class would be better for that, whether you like it or not: Piping Buttercream Borders

So anyway, here's my final review:

Skill level: Beginner
Equipment you have to have: Basic supplies, piping bags, couplers, tips, etc.
Sleep-inducing level: Oh yes, sleepy times.
What it assumes you already know: Not much. How to cover a cake in fondant since that wasn't demonstrated.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Nothing, because he didn't really teach a lot of piping in this class, despite the name.
Annoying Host Habits: Not a lot, he's very comfortable teaching.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: Pfffft. Maybe the basics of how to fill a piping bag. Not a lot about how to actually pipe with it. And nothing at all with buttercream. Very specific instructions on how to do specific designs and some rudimentary piping instruction.

(By the way, Craftsy, you misspelled "filigree." You'll see what I mean when they repeat it a million times on the titles of the class sections.)

Click here for my Craftsy pattern shop, which has a bunch of freebies in it: A Cake To Remember On Craftsy


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

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