Fa la la la la . . . la la la la! Happy holidays, everybody!
In the spirit of the holidays, I want to hold a Practice Bakes Perfect virtual cookie swap. This is not your ordinary cookie swap, where you exchange actual cookies (although, if by your participation in this challenge, you feel inspired to do so, then who am I to stop you?!). Rather, in this virtual cookie swap, I want you to swap cookie decorating techniques.
However, before we get to the details of this challenge, let's talk about the festive incentive for entering. For this challenge, as with all of our Practice Bakes Perfect challenges, there will be a PRIZE awarded to one lucky challenge entrant, whose name will be chosen at random from among all of the challenge entrants. Specifically, for this challenge, this one lucky entrant will receive a $100 gift certificate from Global Sugar Art, courtesy of Cookie Connection owner and founder @Julia M. Usher. Can't you just picture your name on this card?!
Now back to our cookie swap . . . I was thinking how incredible it would be to have a worldwide swap of cookies among all the members of Cookie Connection, but was baffled by how we might do that. Exchanging actual cookies among hundreds of people across thousands of miles seemed pretty infeasible. But then I got to thinking, what better way to celebrate the spirit of a holiday cookie swap than to "gift" or exchange a cookie decorating skill or technique with someone?
My mom always used to say, "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery." And this is especially true with respect to cookies. Who hasn't analyzed a captivating set of cookies and wondered how the artist mixed a particular color, piped that perfect lace, made those roses, or painted that face? So, in this challenge, I want you to find a set of cookies that contains a technique that intrigues you, or has heretofore eluded you, and then I want you to try to learn and use that skill or technique in a set of cookies of your own.
For instance, I was a latecomer to painting on cookies, and have always admired the cookie painting techniques of Angela Niño of @The Painted Box and @TammyHolmes. Angela is well known for her watercolors, and Tammy for her "pull paint" technique. And so, when I was ready to start my cookie painting foray, I contacted both Angela (while attending her presentation at CookieCon) and Tammy (through Facebook messenger) to ask them how they do what they do. Both pointed me to handy tutorials that they had done. Based on what I had learned, I created this set:
In fact, I loved these new techniques so much, that I have incorporated them into several other of my subsequent sets:
There are so many amazing cookie artists here on Cookie Connection. For this challenge, I strongly recommend that you look through the thousands of Cookie Connection clips, old and new, to find a technique that you may want to try. Once you find that technique, use the Cookie Connection private message tool (located under your member profile avatar in the upper right of the site) to contact that inspiration artist for tips and decorating advice. My hope is that you will not only acquire some new skills through this challenge, but also make a few new "cookie connections" as well!
Finally, while it is not required, I think it would be super fun in this challenge to pair up with another cookie artist, and literally exchange techniques, each artist making a cookie or set of cookies for the challenge based on a technique learned from the other. (Gifting those actual challenge cookies to each other is also optional!)
1. Create an original cookie or set of cookies using one or more techniques or skills that you learned from another cookie artist. (NOTE: The skill/technique you choose should be something you have learned specifically for this challenge, and not one that you learned prior to the posting of this challenge. The point of the challenge is to connect with another cookie artist whose skills you admire and to learn something new, so please enter accordingly.)
2. In the first comment to your entry, state the technique or skill you have emulated or acquired, and who you learned that technique or skill from. (For instance, using my examples above, I would state that: "I learned/used the watercolor painting technique of Angela Niño and the pull paint technique of Tammy Holmes.")
3. Do NOT simply copy another artist's cookie(s). I want you to learn a new skill/technique and use that new skill/technique to create your own original cookie(s).
4. As always, we ask that you make a brand new set of cookies for this challenge.
5. Think outside the box, take some healthy risks, and HAVE SOME FUN.
- Please post an image of your cookie set to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than January 14, 2018 at 5 pm central.
- Because these challenges are ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #26" in your photo caption 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 14, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (January 20). 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, please leave a comment below or send me a Cookie Connection private message.
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.