One of the cake decorator's essential tools are cake decorating tips. They are also called icing tips, cake tips or pastry tips. These tips are mostly available in metal but there are some plastic ones available, too.
With just a few these tips you can magically create different effects with your frosting. Just by varying the angle, the pressure and the way you move the tip and you change the look of your borders.
There are two kinds of tips: one that you use directly with the pastry bag and one that you use with a plastic coupler. Here in the picture you will see different sizes of cake tips. The big ones, you place it directly inside the pastry bag. The smaller ones are used with the plastic coupler. I personally like using the small ones as it allows me to use different kinds of tips but using the same pastry bag.
By holding the bag on different angles, you can create different designs using the same cake decorating tip.
Here as an example, a star tip was used two ways, pointing straight down and on a 45° angle. When it was used on a 90° angle the effect was like a star whereas when it was used on a 45° angle a shell was made. By changing the pressure on how you squeeze the bag, you can vary the size of the star and shell.
This is my favorite because of its versatility. Use it to make dots, vines, scrollwork, little flowers and lettering.
This tip is often used for top and bottom borders. Also used to pipe stars, rosettes, shells, reversed shells and even leaves. Small star tips can also be great for lettering. Shown below are two kinds of star tips - open star and closed star.
Here's another favorite of mine. Used of course to make different kinds of flowers like roses, pansies, daisies and blossoms. This tip is also great for making ruffles, scallops and ribbons.
Make a nice basketweave effect with the use of this tip. It can also be used to make pleats, scallops and textured borders.
Make leaves for your flowers with this tip. Make nice pleats, edges and scallops.
I usually use this to make flowers like lilies and chrysanthemums. It can also make interesting textured borders.
This tip is usually used in a 90° angle. It makes stars and flowers.
As you can see, pretty much any kind of tip can be used to make borders, edges and other creations. Practice and play with it and maybe you'll be surprised in what you'll come up with.