What's New, Honeycat? Handpainted Robin Cookie

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Well, in case you hadn't noticed, it's 2015, and that means I've almost completed a year's worth of these tutorials! So to celebrate, I'm going to do things a little differently today. You might notice there aren't many photos . . . that's because this tutorial is mostly contained in a video! I posted some robin cookies around Christmas, and have had so many questions about the process of handpainting them that I decided it was time I filmed myself doing it so you could all see.

 

But first a few thoughts about handpainting on cookies: the main thing to remember is that like most of cookie decorating, there is no one correct way to do it! Whatever advice I give you, you'll be able to find a way to paint a cookie doing the opposite! For example, a lot of my efforts in handpainting are about preventing the surface of the icing from breaking down as I paint, but you might actually want to do that deliberately for the effect it creates. You might not want to paint on icing at all, but on the bare cookie. You might want to paint an entire picture from scratch on a blank canvas, or use the painting to embellish a full colour, otherwise complete cookie design.

 

And much of the time, you're likely to want to do something I've not even thought of, because that's what's so wonderful about the cookie world - all the time cookiers everywhere are experimenting, breaking the "rules", creating new works of art, and hopefully showcasing them right here on Cookie Connection!

 

I didn't do this robin from my head; the whole time I was painting, I had my computer open to this photograph I found on Pinterest. In fact, I used the photograph as a template to copy the shape of the body onto the flat, white dry royal icing (RI) base. I then piped the eye and beak, let them crust, and piped the body in a thick, white RI flood. I could easily have left out these steps and started painting directly on the base, but I like the added dimension and defined edges that this technique gives. I used it when creating this handpainted copy of Michael Hague's illustration of Toad from The Wind in the Willows. A white base dried in the dehydrator gives a nice, extra smooth surface on which to paint, one that I've found more resistant to breaking down than a richly coloured one.

 

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Equipment and a few extra notes:

 

Rainbow Dust "Click and Twist" pen, in black. I used this pen to paint the eye first. It's a form of edible black lustre paint I've recently started using that dries hard to the touch, but remains very shiny and deep black, and is perfect for eyes! Once dry though, it remains slightly dissolvable, so you need to be careful when painting around it, or you'll get bleeding. It comes with its own large, coarse brush through which the paint emerges as you twist the base. I never use that brush directly though; as you can see in the video, I much prefer to transfer the paint onto my own finer brush. You need to immediately wash your own brush in water when you've finished, and not allow the black paint to dry on the fibres, as it can be difficult to clean later.

 

A range of fine brushes. For this project I used just a couple - a slightly larger one for the broader work (a round, size 2 watercolour brush) and a fine one for the details (a round, size 0 watercolour brush). There's nothing special about these particular brushes. I simply browse occasionally in the art section of my local craft store and pick soft, fine-tipped brushes that look like they might be useful, and I now have quite a collection.

 

A range of food colours. For this project I used brown, black, red, and yellow Sugarflair gel colour, but any brand of gel or paste colours will do. I keep my empty pots for painting. You need such a small amount that the "scraps" dried to the sides of the pot are enough and will work like those hard blocks of watercolour paint you get - a little water and they soon dissolve again. And you can see in the video that I actually use the lids to mix the colours I want. I also have a plastic palette, and run these bits and bobs through the dishwasher every so often to keep them hygienic.

 

Water. I find it easiest to use water to extend the colouring, but any clear alcohol will do too (e.g., vodka or flavoured essences).

 

Absorbent kitchen paper. I always keep a piece on hand and use it frequently, to keep the brush just barely damp. The more loaded the brush with paint, the more likely you are to experience pitting of the icing surface as it starts to dissolve.

 

So onto the video! It is shown entirely in real time, no speeding up, but I have severely edited it to crop out all the fiddling with pots of colour, cleaning brushes, and a fair amount of repetitive painting that you really wouldn't want to see. The entire process originally took 25 minutes, though at my most efficient, I was painting these birds in 15 minutes each. (I did far too many of them for Christmas!)

 

Happy New Year! [EDITOR'S NOTE: Please share the next cookie that you paint using Lucy's helpful techniques! We'd love to see!]

 

Cookie, photo, and video credits: Lucy Samuels

 

 

Lucy Samuels is the owner of UK-based Honeycat Cookies. Originally with an art-based career in mind, Lucy attended art college for a year after school but switched to nursing where she spent twenty years specializing in cardiology. After becoming a stay-at-home mom to her daughter Jess, Lucy experimented with a range of crafts, alighting upon decorative cookies almost by accident. In late 2011, she was persuaded to start her business Honeycat Cookies following several requests to place orders. She set about learning the craft from books, the internet, and trial and error. Lucy has a YouTube channel as well as a blog, Honeycat Cookies, that document some of her wider adventures in confectionery. 

 

Photo credit: Lucy Samuels


NoteWhat's New, Honeycat? is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Lucy Samuels, which pushes the cookie envelope every other month with innovative cookie design ideas and tutorials. Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To catch up on all of Lucy's past posts, click here.

 

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Hi Lucy! I just want to thank you so much for this informative, What's New, Honeycat, blog post and video tutorial! Thanks for sharing the link to the bird photo, that was your inspiration for your amazing cookie! It's wonderful seeing your beautiful bird come to life! I like that you used the photograph as a template to copy the shape of the body onto the flat, dry royal icing base, its a great technique! You have achieved beautiful, realistic results!

 

Lucy! Thank you so very much! Oh, that I could be there looking over your shoulder!  But you have given me the next best thing! I am a hands on kind of girl! But I am not brave. This wonderful tutorial video will help me on my way!  Rebecca said it best! You are the master! Thank you again for sharing your phenomenal talent! Shona

WOW!  I am sitting here with my jaw dropped at how amazingly life-like your robin looks.  Like Smurphy, I am not brave and am artistically challenged so hand-painting is scary for me.  You make it look doable.  Wonderful video, thanks for sharing. 

Dittoo to all comments.  And, yes, I agree with Rebecca, you are The Master.  I love your: work, videos/tutorials, your words, everything just flows/pours from your head, and words, to your hands.  I would love to be able to claim your head.  I had asked someone what they were using in their video but that person didn't give me an answer me, but I saw the click twist pen used in another person's video.  In case I have misread your post, did you say that you don't use it directly on a cookie, you swipe it with a separate brush?  I've been thinking of buying one of the click twist to see how I do...  Sending a special Happy New Year greeting to you!  I'll probably reread this post many times over.  I guess you can tell I have info overload and becoming very befuddled...   On to your video.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy !  You know that I love your work!  Jaw hit the floor and the rest of my head popped off!  lol  The music is entrancing (did I say that right?)...;  a musical theme song played for   pairs dancing or duet  at the Olympics. Or for  ballet.   I will never tire reading your or watching your videos.  God Bless!

Originally Posted by donaharrisburg:

In case I have misread your post, did you say that you don't use it directly on a cookie, you swipe it with a separate brush?  I've been thinking of buying one of the click twist to see how I do... 

Thank you for your lovely comments! Yes, that's exactly what I do. The brush that comes with the click and twist pens is coarse and bulky and not suitable for fine work. I guess you could buy pots of metallic paint and that would work as well - though keeping the paint in the pen like this means there's no surface to dry up, and you can just buy the tiny amounts you need. One problem with them is you never know how much is left though!

Thanks for answering, but...  (There's always a but lol.)  I don't know what pots of metallic paint is...  I think of wall paint etc., that it isn't edible.  I searched and didn't see a link for edible pots of metallic paint.  I'm not coming up with a word that I know instead of pots of metallic paint.  Oh, I saw pads but the pads I bought had a white pasty goo on them, considered them not for sanitary/eating purposes/usage and tossed them.

Originally Posted by donaharrisburg:

Thanks for answering, but...  (There's always a but lol.)  I don't know what pots of metallic paint is...  I think of wall paint etc., that it isn't edible.  I searched and didn't see a link for edible pots of metallic paint.  I'm not coming up with a word that I know instead of pots of metallic paint.  Oh, I saw pads but the pads I bought had a white pasty goo on them, considered them not for sanitary/eating purposes/usage and tossed them.

There are a variety of companies that make edible metallic paint - but remember I'm in the UK and what's available around the world might vary, as well as what's approved for food.
If you search for 'edible metallic paint' in Amazon.com, you'll come up with a few options - Rainbow dust seems to be a common one.

Dona, I don't know if posting a website is allowed but I had the answer.  Metallic Paint Pot by Rainbow Dust. Here is what I found:
 
Originally Posted by donaharrisburg:

Thanks for answering, but...  (There's always a but lol.)  I don't know what pots of metallic paint is...  I think of wall paint etc., that it isn't edible.  I searched and didn't see a link for edible pots of metallic paint.  I'm not coming up with a word that I know instead of pots of metallic paint.  Oh, I saw pads but the pads I bought had a white pasty goo on them, considered them not for sanitary/eating purposes/usage and tossed them.

 

Lucy !  Lucy in the sky with diamonds!  I did search edible ... and got wall/wood paints.  I did not go to Amazon - yet.  Yes, I know UK has products that the US doesn't; my thoughts after I posted my question.  I thought I wasn't understanding your word, because, as you know, words have different meanings world wide  (did I say that right?  Like referring to police  we'll say cop copper pig rat fink   lol.  UK says bobby...  lol  Smiling at you!

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