I remember my first experience to really good (handy) cake decorating supplies was when I was a kid and at that time used to enjoy watching my grandmother baking and decorating. My grandmother would bake as well as cool a set of cakes, ice the layers and the cake in completion, subsequently it was time for the greatest delight for me when she would reach out to a special cabinet and take out cake decorating supplies in a package that looked like a gift box: the cake decorating supplies were kept stored in parts, each part fitting into its own cardboard cutout form. One by one Gram would slowly pull out the metal barrel, the plunger, the washer, and one or more of the tips…these tips were used to make leaves, or flowers, or perhaps to do tubing, to set stars.
Gram would put together the pieces and spoon one color frosting at a time into the cool metal tube, screw back on the plunger, and begin to work on decorating, which at times would take hours that were probably arduous, despite the fact that she never expressed a single complaint and neither did I move, fascinated as I was by the process, till she was done completely. Years later, when I had my own home, my grandmother had sent me a set of cake decorating supplies that were similar to her set. At times I practiced, and found these decorators to be incredible things of beauty – in form and function (and durability).
Though at some point later, I lost or loaned and never got back my cake decorating supplies, and changed them with the ultra-professional frosting bags and decorating tips, which were just as lovely (though if you have hot hands, the canvas bags transfer the heatfaster than it would with the metal set–to the frosting and it will puddle, so hold the bag by the top where you have twisted or folded it).
Last Christmas, I wanted to give a friend who had just gotten into gourmet baking a set of those cake decorating supplies of yore. Since I didn’t find the time to go online, I found, rather stupidly, a discounted cake decorator at a local department store. Actually the thing doesn’t stay closed (at the plunger and cap), and it is plastic and stays greasy after washing. Ugh. Despite the fact twenty years ago I would have had an excuse, however today, I should know better…and use a site like eBay, where we not only find cake decorating supplies but those of the quality of the originals: A good tip is to either look for the brand name Wilton or use keywords like “vintage” or “original” or “aluminum”…for the kind of cake-decorating supplies Gram had.