Dabbling with Brush Embroidery

Week Two’s adventures in Royal Icing take me into the delicate world of Brush Embroidery. I stumbled at the word ‘delicate’ because I have always classed myself as clumsy and a bit of a bull in a china shop. But when I look at some of my miniature pieces, I am surprised to see how tiny and delicate I am able to be with paste so let’s hope it holds true for RI.


First steps from the master book
Eddie Spence advises on Pg 172 (no, I am not working to the order of the book otherwise I would have to leap into pressure piping and that toooo big a step, so dabbling at the back of his bible) there are three different types of embroidery techniques: 

  1. Shading – where you pipe the outline which is then drawn down and faded into the centre
  2. Skeletonised – where the piped outline is broken but not drawn down to the centre
  3. Stitched – which as a needle crafter I would call crewel work, where stitches of different shades and tones build up the design

Actually getting my hands sticky
Made up my fresh RI without a loss of confidence this time so I’m either getting better or my weaning myself from my beloved Diet Coke is having an effect and I am no longer dithering….. also have invested in some small round bottomed glass bowls for mixing up small amounts of RI and colours, they come with lids but I know I need to put cling film right on top of the RI so as not to trap any air and then pop on the lid.

I covered some cake cards with left over paste so please excuse the colour, and I then embossed into the fresh paste with a Patchwork Cutters by Marion Frost. Clever little plastic motifs for cutting out modelling or flower paste design but also double up brilliantly as embossers. I used the Christmas Rose Corner because thought it had big enough petals to practise on – wrong clearly need larger!

Embossing 2 of the same design into the paste as I wanted to compare the different versions BUT made a huge boo boo by pressing too deeply into the paste as I will explain in a mo

Dipped into my store of little parchment bags (thankyou for the guidance) and snipped off the ends ready for my nozzles.  Now I have a rather eclectic tube/nozzle collection, a few I bought when I first started my cake journey, some from rummage and sales tables at BSG events and then found some Becnal tubes at Telford International Exhibition last year. I treated myself to 3 of them including a 00!  However I have no idea how one size or make compares to the other so its all still a bit pot luck.


So I selected 1.5 PME as Eddies advises and a No 2 Wilton
which looked a lot bigger and the fun began

OMG it’s so therapeutic – this is my new mindfulness past time. You need a small flat brush, a little dish of boiled water and some kitchen towel and then its hours of endless fun. I hadn’t added any piping gel, which is an option if you need to a longer working time, but I found my rubbed down icing (oh don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about!!) was just perfect


Working from the outside in towards the centre of the design, I kept turning the cake card so must remember to let it dry completely or put it on a wee turntable to avoid all the finger prints around the edge. I started with the No1.5 PME but because I had embossed to deeply the icing just feel down the line so swapped to the bigger No2 Wilton nozzle and got on much better


Bag explosion!

Disaster struck when my bag burst ……. or more truthfully when the nozzle popped out the end because I had cut it too wide – rookie error. Easy to save as I popped the nozzle straight into another bag and squeezed in the RI for the exploded one and kept going. Luckily it didn’t happen over the actual design!







Love this technique but did get a bit lost as to what to do when the petal curled over at the top?? – I have used the brush to indicate the area – can anyone help??

What do I do here??


Adding detail with the No1.5 was great and I’m glad I swapped to the bigger one for the outlines until I have had a wee bit more practice. Very pleased with my first go (to be read in a slightly smug voice). After it had dried I turned the board again and tried the skeletonised technique

This is actually must easier and very much faster, it should be a smaller nozzle and shorter strokes but because of my deep embossing I used the larger nozzle again and it didn’t quiet give the effect. Both lovely techniques and thoroughly enjoyed myself and as a bonus my confidence in my 2017 RI challenge has been renewed.

Final piece showing both techniques


Next week I shall dabble in colouring methods on brush embroidery and stitched embroidery – crewel work (cue wicked evil laughter…….)