Piping Techniques: Pearls and Beaded Garlands

piping techniques with cakes from Rosalind Miller (left) and Pinterest (right)

A piped beaded garland is a superbly elegant wedding cake decoration and is one of the simplest piping techniques even for beginners.  Having marked out the distance between each swag or scallop, as well as the drop length, it is simply a matter of piping pearl beads in a semi-circular shape to achieve that most classical of wedding cake designs.

The two beautiful examples above are from acclaimed designers, Peggy Porschen (left) and Bake-A-Boo, New Zealand (right). Coloured icing, whether in cream or pastel shades, provides a great backdrop against which pearl piping really stands out.

For those completely new to piping royal icing, we have put together a beginners guide as follows, featuring advice from some of the world’s best cake artists on royal icing piping techniques:

how to pipe a pearl border or snail trail from America's Test Kitchen

To pipe a pearl bead garland:

  • first you need to mark the points on the top edge of your cake where each swag is going to begin and end.
  • Start with a tiny mark at 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
  • Depending on how big your cake is, mark points in each quadrant about 2 inches or so apart, or further apart for wider swags, if you prefer.
  • Next, mark how far down you want each swag to fall around the sides of the cake.
  • Begin piping by starting with the top pearls and the bottom pearl for each swag. Then pipe the rest of the pearls that make up the swag in a semi-circular shape.
  • If the pearls have a peaked tip, pat them down gently with a damp paintbrush before moving on to the next swag.

piping techniques with cakes from Rosalind Miller (left) and via Pinterest (righ

Above, we have a very elegant example of classical pearl piping piping from Rosalind Miller Cakes (above left), who has just published her new book: Wedding Cakes by Rosalind Miller.

To the right, we have a superb vintage single tier cake with with piped pearls in a draped style.  Combined with delicate lace trim and a single sugar rose, this cake is the epitomy of vintage elegance. (Image via Pinterest).

piping techniques with cakes from Peggy Porschen (left) and Maise Fantaisie (right)

Above, we have two superb examples of precision piping  techiques by Peggy Porschen (left) and Maise Fantaisie (right). Triple swags create a splendidly classical wedding cake design whether in pristine white or Wedgewood blue.

Below we have two more exquisite examples of piped beaded garlands, this time incorporating little blossoms for added decorative effect. (Image below left from Style Me Pretty with photo by Red Fly Studio and right, from Divine Cakes By Luisa Galuppo.)

piping techniques with cake from Style Me Pretty, Photo by Red Fly Studio (left) and by Divine Cakes By Luisa Galuppo (right)

Finally, a beautiful Tiffany’s blue wedding cake with vintage pearl piping by Madisons On Main (photo by Amanda Watson via Wedding Chicks).

tiffany blue wedding cake with piped pearls garland by Madisons on Main with photo by Amanda Watson Photography via Wedding Chicks


For more on piping royal icing designs, check out Amber Spiegel’s (SweetAmb’s) fabulous class online: Sweet Elegance – 16 Cookie Decorating Techniques.

Cookie Decorating 16 Techniques with Amber Spiegel on Craftsy

For more on royal icing piping techniques, see our the rest of our series:

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Coming up next: Vintage Carousel Cakes/Merry-Go-Round Cakes