Happy holidays! Hopefully, by now, you have cranked out your last gingerbread man, assembled your last poinsettia cookie platter, and are ready to have some REAL cookie fun! But, first things first - I would like to thank everyone who participated in Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #13. Having tried my own hand at that one, I know how uniquely challenging it was, and I really appreciate all the effort that people put into their entries for it. I also want to thank Julia Usher for filling in as guest judge for the challenge. It was great fun for me to play participant for a change!
And so, with the difficulties and strict technical requirements of the last challenge fresh in my mind, I think I have a real treat for you this time around. This challenge will focus more on techniques and less on pixels. "Enough, already! What IS the next challenge?", you ask. And the answer is: mixed media.
Before we get to the details of this challenge, I'd like to talk to you about the absolutely incredible prize we have for one lucky randomly chosen challenge entrant. Michele Hester, owner and founder of SugarVeil®, has VERY generously donated one of her incredible Vacuum Pick-up Tools (retail value $135 USD) and about a bazillion dragÉes from the SweetWorks® Celebration line (so you can play with your new tool)!
And because a video is worth 1,000 pictures, here's that tool in action:
Now that I've got you all dreaming of vacuuming up tiny sugary things, let's get into the nitty gritty of the challenge. First off, let's talk about what I mean by "mixed media." By definition, a work of art is "mixed media" if it is created using multiple techniques and components parts. Sometimes it's easier to show than to explain, and so, here are a few examples of mixed media cookie creations . . .
Mixed Media Nature by Fernwood Cookie
Mixed Media Beach-Inspired Set by Belleissimo Cookies
Mixed Media Flowers in a Vase by Janet@Roll Your Own Cookie
3-D Contoured Cookie Mosaic Boxes by Julia M. Usher
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Boy, I sure wish I had the Vacuum Pick-up Tool when I was working on this project! ]
Bee-inspired! by Sugar Pearls Cakes & Bakes
As you can see, mixed media cookies use a variety of different techniques and materials (royal icing transfers, dragÉes, fondant, stamps, stencils, etc.), often in layers, to create a coherent overall design. To me, no one is more of a master of mixed media than former Cookie Connection contributor Pamoda Vanderwert, otherwise known as Sugar Pearls Cakes & Bakes. You can read all about how she created her "Bee-inspired!" set here. Pamoda also did a complete tutorial for creating an April showers-themed mixed media set here.
Now that you have an idea of what a mixed media piece is and how to make one, let's discuss the rules for this challenge. Please read and follow them CAREFULLY.
1. Create a mixed media cookie or set of cookies.
2. Create your mixed media cookie (or set) using a minimum of four (4) of the following different media/techniques. (If you make a set, not every cookie has to use all four techniques, but at least one of them must!)
- royal icing transfers
- fondant or gumpaste elements
- SugarVeil® or other edible lace elements
- sprinkles, dragÉes, or other storebought candies
- stenciled areas or elements
- stamped areas or elements
- wafer paper, frosting sheets, edible gold/silver leaf, or other edible paper
- homemade candy, such as melted clear mints, sugar syrup boiled to various stages, modeling chocolate, etc.
- luster dusts
- painted areas or elements, using extended dusts or food coloring
- hand-drawn areas or elements, using edible marker
3. As always, we ask that you make a brand new cookie or set of cookies for this challenge.
- Please post an image of your cookie set to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than January 31, 2016 at 5 pm central.
- Please state which media/techniques you used in your entry in the first comment under the photo. If you've created a set, please also indicate which cookie or cookies in the set contain the minimum four techniques. This information is a requirement of the challenge; photos without it will be disqualified.
- Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #14" in your photo caption (subtitle field) AND in a tag, so that we can tell the challenges apart from month to month. Please use the main title field to uniquely name your cookies as you normally would.
- Please also assign other relevant clip sets and tags to your images, as you normally would. (Meaning don't just use the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set and leave it at that, or your photos won't easily be found with keyword searches.)
- You can enter more than once, but please post only one clip of each distinct entry/cookie set. Multiple clips of the same entry/cookie set are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.
After the challenge has closed on January 31, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (February 6). The next challenge will be announced after that Spotlight.
And one last thing . . . This is NOT meant to be a competition. The only person you should be competing against is yourself. Period. These challenges are intended to inspire the artist in you and push you to be the best cookie artist YOU can be at this snapshot in time. Remember, the whole point of this exercise is to get you out of your comfort zone - to "take healthy risks," as my wise-beyond-his-years son always reminds me. Plus, prizes are given entirely at random, so healthy risk-taking has its own rewards!
I would love to chat with you as you journey through this process, so if you have any questions about the challenge, are having trouble getting started, need help bringing an idea to life, or want technical advice (other than, "Can I just commission Pamoda to make my entry?"), please leave a comment below.
Christine Donnelly began her professional baking career at 16, when she was hired on the spot at her local bakery to work the counter and decorate cakes. After detours to college and law school, she worked as a trial lawyer in Chicago for many years, ultimately leaving that career to become a stay-at-home mother to her two children. In her “retirement,” she continued to bake at home, at last finding her preferred artistic medium in decorated cookies. In February 2013, Bakerloo Station was born with a presence on both Facebook and Instagram. Christine makes cookies to balance her left brain, to inspire and share creative ideas, and to feed those needs that only art can satisfy.
Photo credit: Christine Donnelly
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Donnelly that poses inspiration or challenges to get you to stretch as a cookie artist - for practice, for prizes, and for fun! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Christine's past Cookie Connection posts here.