Oriental Stringwork – Part 4

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last stringwork post! Phew! So without further ado, here we go!

If you need a quick review, help on icing consistency, etc., check out these other stringwork tutorials:
Basic Stringwork
Stringwork with a Bridge
Bridgelss Stringwork

I’m using the same cake dummy from the last few tutorials, so just ignore the extra stringwork designs you see in the photos.

Step 1: Initial Drop Strings

Begin by piping basic drop strings along the top edge of your cake. I’ll just be doing 2 for this tutorial, but you can do them all the way around your cake if you want! Keep these drop strings relatively short in width and length – it’ll be easier for you in the long run.

Step 2: Attach Sugar Pearls

Place a small dot of royal icing at the intersection points of the drop strings. Press a sugar pearl on each royal icing dot. Let these dry completely before continuing. (Sorry, no photos for this step, but you can see the pearls in the next step.)

Step 3: Flip the Cake Upside-Down

Yup, you heard me. Upside-down. Place the flipped cake on a riser of some sort – another Styrofoam cake dummy works really well. Of course if you’re working on a Styrofoam dummy, just grab the sucker and flip it over. If it’s real cake, you’ll need to use more precaution.

To flip a real cake: Cover the cake in fondant, and allow it to harden (overnight is best). Place a piece of cardboard the same size as your cake on top of the cake. For example, if your cake is an 8-inch round, place an 8-inch round cardboard piece on top of the cake. Then carefully flip the cake over so that it’s now resting on the 8-inch round cardboard piece.

Step 4: Pipe Inverted Strings

Just like you would on the side of the cake, pipe drop strings from pearl to pearl. You’ll quickly realize that these strings break easily. That’s why it’s important that your original strings in Step 1 were short.

If you’re having an overwhelming amount of string breakage, check your icing consistency. It could be too wet (is it really shiny?) or too dry (is it cracking?). Alternatively, your strings may also be too long, and you simply can’t defy the laws of gravity.

However, don’t be too disappointed with some breakage – that’s normal! In fact, in some of these pictures, you’ll see my string boneyard (all the broken strings that fall to the cake board).

Once you get the strings to stay in place, let them dry a few minutes before continuing. We’ll be flipping the cake back over in the next step so your strings need to be dry enough to hold their shape when the cake is moved.

Step 5: Pipe Your Second Layer of Strings

Flip the cake over again so that its now in its original position. Pipe another set of drop strings from pearl to pearl.

Step 6: Add Pearls and Continue The String Layers

Just like before, “glue” sugar pearls at the string intersection points. Continue to flip and unflip the cake, adding more strings & pearls, until you have the desired dimensions & depth.

Today, I’ll be stopping at 2 layers, but you get the point. Of course, the further you go out, the more fragile the set-up will be – but also the more impressive!

The key to creating gorgeous Oriental stringwork is to keep the strings within each layer the same shape and size. However, the shape and size may gradually increase or decrease as you add layers. For example, I started with larger strings and then got smaller as the strings moved away from the side of the cake.

That’s an impressive cake profile, isn’t it?!

Now, as a bonus, I’ll share some more creative Oriental stringwork. I always say this, but think outside the box! Everyone does stringwork like the example shown above! But who said the strings have to be perfect half-circles or sit at the top edge of the cake?

Here, I started with some basic strings up against the side of the cake. Then I attached pearls at the intersection points.

I flipped the cake and piped more basic stringwork against the side of the cake. Note: this step would have been easier if I’d attached the pearls AFTER I’d piped the strings, but I don’t always do things the easy way…

Then, after a series of flipping, unflipping, piping, and pearl gluing, I arrived at this finished product:

Have you ever seen THAT in a book? (Seriously, if you have, I’d love to see the book!)

So I can now say that I’ve shared with you everything I know, to date, about stringwork! People pay lots of money to take stringwork classes, and now you don’t have to! If you make any stringwork cakes/sugar art pieces using my tutorials, please send me the photos at phdserts[at]gmail[dot]com. I would LOVE to see the photos and post them here, with permission.

What’s next? I’m organizing for a very informative article about how to prepare for and win a cake decorating competition! Oh yea, more insider secrets! And I hope you’ll use them at the Florida I.C.E.D. Cake Competition. Yup, that was a shameless plug. *wink*

8 thoughts on “Oriental Stringwork – Part 4”

  1. Thanks, Melanie! I think I'll do some stringwork sometime in the near future– and you'll be more than welcome to use pictures. 🙂 I'm definitely interested in hearing your ideas on cake shows too!

  2. for love of my oceans

    Wow how amazing! I cannot wait to try this. And I will be looking forward to your post on winning a competition. Thanks for sharing.

  3. FrostedFantasies

    I have always wanted to try stringwork, but it seemed way too complicated. Thanks for sharing this…maybe I'll give it a try sooner than later! But the whole flipping the cake thing is what scared me now! LOL

  4. cakebaker_cakemaker

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have just begun to do extension work and love it. Your work is just so beautiful.

  5. Thanks so much Mel! I just found your website after going to a competition and seeing oriental string work for the first time. I am definitely going to do this on my next cakes for the National Capital Area Cake Show. Maybe I'll do better than I have in the past.


  6. Thank you Mel for such a great step-by-step tutorial I could never have attempted this any other way. I am always trying to learn new things and this is trulysomething that I will end up spend hours on perfecting. It was also the first time I had used royal icing as I am still very new to cake design. That first flip of the cake is extremely scary and I did the entire cake all the way around before flipping it bak up.I did have definately more break than work the first few times but after multiple flips and of course getting better at it I finally did get it all done.I did it on a test cake so although I made a few mistakes I think next time round I will try to do more layers.The cake ended up going to hubbies work as it was a test cake but all in all for first time out the gate it wasn't to bad.Have pics if you would like to see, I didn't know how to attach it to this.

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