[quote Does it really take as long as it looks like it would or do people get quicker with practice?
They are quite quick, like precisely calibrated machines or robots. Actually very quick
Many years ago me and my friends have seen a lady to decorate cookies in this style . Not so skilled but still very good. We joked about decorating blindfolded. She said ok. Frankly, her cookie was at least 100 times better than anybody else's in the room.
Giant heart (which is not so detailed) in the first attachment of previous post was made in 1 hour (don't know if they mean baking included).
Everybody usually has her/his secret recipe for the icing. Some use just powdered sugar and water, some eggwhites (there was no eggwhite or meringue powder available), sugar and lemon juice, some add potato starch - there are many variations. The cookies' taste is milder, not so spicy and they are usually quite soft and thick but depends on the area. My favourite - when I was child - were those covered with milk chocolate and coloured RI flowers.
There is another CC member (Czech) who makes this type of cookies:
I asked her once how she makes them - she responded: patience... and years of practice.