I have decorated cakes for 30+ years and recently developed a way to make beautiful roses for wedding and specialty cakes by hand, using regular icing instead of fondant.
Make icing using a bag of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup Crisco (do not substitute!) and a very small amount of water (3-5 tablespoons). You want your icing to be thick--yet smooth, similar to modeling clay.
To form a rose, start with a ball of icing about the size of a dime in the palm of your hand. Flatten it thin, and roll lengthwise, jelly roll style. When finished lay on a flat surface, in an upright position to begin forming your rose.
For petals, use about the same amount, flatten this thin but not as thin as for the middle of the flower, in an oval shape. Pick up your middle and attach the petal to the middle section. This is like working with modeling clay and you simply mold the flower petals on, one by one.
After you have formed the flower to your liking, using your fingertips, roll the tops of the petals to make your flower realistic looking. If you aren't satisfied with the look, take apart and try again. The more you experiment, the easier it gets.
After these are made and placed on waxed paper, they can be air dried for several days or used straight on the iced cake. Since they have no flavoring in them they will not go bad before using them. I used this method on weddIng cakes recently with great results. Handmade roses for wedding cakes can cost up to $15.00 and you can form your own for less than $2.00 per batch.
Sharon from Ravenna, KY