There are many of your that have just gotten started in cake decorating. I have been asked by several people how to get more practice without having to make several cakes as well as icing. When I first got started I got so tired of baking cakes to practice on and it seemed to become a big waste of money. I finally heard about cake dummies which at the time I had no clue what everyone was talking about. If you have never heard about cake dummies in a nutshell they are just a block of styrofoam that is cut into a cake form. They can be purchased as a 2 in. or 3 in. thickness. Cake Dummies come in the form of square, round, heart, petal as well as sheet cakes in addition to many other shapes that are available.
There are many places online that you can purchase cake dummies and they can be quite pricey at some of the different online stores. I purchase my dummie cakes online at a website called The Foam Studio and they have the best prices online. Here is their website. You can use Buttercream and Fondant on cake dummies. Treat them as if they are a real cake when you cover them with the icing that you plan to use. I love to re-use cake dummies after I have decorated a particular cake design so that I get more use out of them. In order to do that I usually cover the cake dummie in saran/plastic wrap and tape it together on top and bottom so that when you take the cake apart you can just pull the saran/plastic wrap off the dummie.
If you are going to be using fondant on your cake (dummie) you can cover it with buttercream just like with a real cake and then place your fondant on the cake.
If you plan to re-use your cake dummie, you can run it under warm water after removing your icing from it, then let it dry.
Another way that I would practice cake decorating when I first got started was to use the back of a cake pan and cover it with icing then decorate it with roses and other items, I would practice writing with icing on the back of a cake pan as well. Then when your finished you can just remove the icing.
Doing dummie cakes and decorating them is a great way to make several different looks to create a photo portfolio for your cake business if that is what you are planning to do. So whenever you create a dummie cake that turns out great take a picture of it and add it to your portfoilio.
Hopefully this gave you some ideas to get you started on your journey into cake decorating!!