Hello! I hope you all are enjoying these lazy days of summer (apologies to those of you in the chilly southern hemisphere), and have had some time to rest, relax, and maybe even make a bunch of cookies just for fun! Special thanks to all of you who took the time out of your busy schedules to participate in this latest Practice Bakes Perfect challenge. There were so many excellent submissions that it was very difficult to choose which entries to spotlight!
Before we get to our spotlighted artists, let's first talk about the truly special prize for this challenge, generously donated by Cyndi Freeman of Vermont Rolling Pins. It will be awarded to one randomly drawn entrant to this challenge, and it is an absolutely beautiful solid cherry, hand-turned rolling pin (retail value: $75 USD), complete with built-in 1/4-inch guides to ensure that your cookies roll out nice and evenly every time. I gotta tell you, I want one of these rolling pins so badly that I am seriously considering just buying one online TODAY! (Christmas in July, right?!) [EDITOR'S NOTE: I gotta tell you, JUST DO IT! My dark walnut one is stunning and works like a dream. I used it in my videos shot this weekend! ~JMU]
And the winner of this GORGEOUS piece of baking equipment is . . . @Kim Damon. A very regular and enthusiastic participant in so many of these Practice Bakes Perfect challenges, Kim had two entries in Challenge #23, both of which caught our judges' eyes - one using a warm color palette, and the other using a cool one. I love how Kim really stretched herself in this challenge and used her two entries to explore both sides of the color wheel.
Enjoy the Warm Days of Summer by Kim Damon
A Cool Summer Thing by Kim Damon
Congratulations, Kim! Enjoy your new Vermont Rolling Pin!
Now, let's talk about our other spotlighted artists for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #23. In no particular order . . .
Lady Butterfly by swissophieExquisite is the word that immediately jumps to my mind when I see this entry by swissophie. The cool colors are so deep and rich, and both complement and contrast with the very delicate and intricately piped patterns and design. I think that one of the trickiest colors in this challenge was green, as it is a color that straddles both the warm and cool parts of the color wheel. (You can see my own failed challenge attempt at cool greens here!) However, in this entry, Sonja's use of multiple cool shades of green is masterful. To top it all off, Sonja used isomalt in a pretty novel way to provide additional support for those extremely delicate royal icing transfers.
Birds and Flowers by Tina at Sugar WishesOftentimes, colors on the warm side of the color wheel tend to be bold and even harsh, but this set of cookies by Tina shows that warm colors can be soft and gentle too. The muted warm tones, coupled with the very intricate embroidery technique, give this set of cookies a very beautiful, almost vintage feel. Additionally, Tina's warm green tones are just perfect. This set is a masterful, standout entry.
Toucan Cookies by mintlemonade (cookie crumbs)Similarly, with respect to this entry by mintlemonade, our judges unanimously commented that they were stunned and impressed by how soft and serene warm colors can be. As one stated: "She made me understand that warm colors are not necessarily bright. She could have easily used bright warm colors, and with a subject like the toucan she couldn't have gone wrong, but instead the soft warm color combination that she picked is simply genius and that's why she nailed this color challenge in my opinion."
Summer Angels for Claire by Chu-A-Cookie
I loved hearing about how, prior to this challenge, Chu-A-Cookie struggled with color, and how this challenge helped her to better understand the color wheel and how to create color palettes. She noted, through her recent participation in a sugar show, that color and color cohesiveness are factors in most competitions. I hope that, through this challenge, she has acquired a few color-related skills to help meet the color requirements of the next competition she enters! Clearly, judging by this challenge entry, Chu-A-Cookie has learned a few things about color already. I think the dreamy blues and pinks are perfectly suited to this angel theme. I also love the fact, as another judge pointed out to me, that this set uses a myriad of techniques from past challenges - wafer paper, faces, roses, and lettering, to name a few.
Summer Festival in My Town by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.One of two entries by Ryoko, this set, which tells the story of a Japanese summer festival, stood out to our judges. The warm color palette helps to convey a real sense of energy and excitement, a terrific contrast to the softer warm palettes used by Tina at Sugar Wishes and mintlemonade (cookie crumbs) in their entries. I was particularly impressed by the jacket (happi) cookie with the Phoenix. Ryoko tells us that normally this happi would be blue and purple, but she created it in red, orange, and yellow for this challenge. Across the board, the tiny, intricate details of this set are staggering, and I was impressed by the many different techniques Ryoko used to additionally challenge herself, such as the paper fish net and the kaleidoscope. You can read all about Ryoko's creative journey in creating this set in the comments to her entry here.
Sweet Ice by carouselselselThis entry, with over 50 cookies, is a feast for the eyes! The colors are so bright and fun and fit so perfectly with the summery ice cream theme. I am strangely drawn to the soft, yet bright lime color of the ice cream trucks, and I think the deep chocolate brown color really grounds this otherwise very bright, energetic color palette. Even though there are many, many different cookie designs in this set, they are all deftly tied together by the consistent color palette.
Cold Days by Cookies by jossThe very muted blues, greens, and grays in this set by Joss truly give me the chills! I think that the soft, icy hues really suit the theme of this set. And these little critters with their tiny woolen mittens are just so stinkin' cute!
Summer Pinwheels by Sweet Prodigy - Christine
I love this "less is more" entry by Sweet Prodigy. The straightforward pinwheel design really puts the focus on the cool color palette. I think the most clever thing about this set is Christine's use of the piped lines, which although made with the same color icing as the flooded base colors, creates just the right amount of texture, shading, and motion. Christine stated this point best herself: "I felt that the flooded icing looked a bit plain as is so I added lines in the same colour. I didn't want to make the piping lighter - or darker - as this would have given the appearance of stripes, which was not what I wanted. For me, the light reflecting off the piping adds just the right amount of contrast, and creates texture and depth while still allowing colour to be the dominant design feature."
Snowflake Mandalas by Alison FriedliThe standout feature of this set by Alison Friedli is definitely the colored dough, which was a unique interpretation of this challenge. Alison notes that she used the same gel colors to both paint the mandalas and color the dough, but because of the different mediums, the colors look related, though not exactly the same.
Baby Summer Fun by Silviya Mihailova
I think the bright, warm color palette for this fondant-based set by Silviya Mihailova just screams summertime! I am totally smitten by those teeny, tiny duckies, and love how the rubber ducky theme is interpreted differently from cookie to cookie. I also really like the shade of deep pink, the judicious use of which makes this set pop.
And with that, Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #23 comes to an end. I hope you will contine to refer to the color wheel posted in the original Challenge #23 post, and use it as a springboard for many other color experiments. I particularly encourage you to try my "trick" of using all warm or cool colors and then adding a single color from the other side of the color wheel. In other words, try using an all-cool color palette and then adding a single color from the warm side. You will see how this technique really makes the single opposite color stand out and give your sets more pop!
Many thanks to all who submitted entries to the challenge, as well as those who made encouraging and constructive comments. I am always learning new things from all of you, and I hope that you are also learning things from each other through these challenges. I would also like to thank our Cookie Connection contributor-judges, who not only offer invaluable insights, challenge after challenge, but also contribute some amazing "non-entry" challenge entries. Be sure to check out the whole Practice Bakes Perfect clip set to see them all.
Our next Practice Bakes Perfect challenge will post in approximately one week, on or about July 24, 2017, so stay tuned!
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.