First, let's start off with some lovely scroll work and piped pearls:
Here's a fondant-free example:
That's all hand-piped! Here, check out the detail:
This next one contains some mind-boggling string work. (String work uses royal icing, which hardens after it dries.) Just look at this:
I love the color on this next one:
And last is the most technically difficult of today's bunch:
For the scroll border, royal icing is layered on a flat surface, dried, and then carefully adhered to the base with more icing. Have I mentioned that this stuff is incredibly fragile? 'Cuz it is. I've been told that for a cake like this, you have to do the string work onsite; the slightest bump or jarring would cause them all the break right off.
Well, hopefully you have a better appreciation for piping art now! Thanks to today's bakers!