This month's release is called "Chinese New Year," but I consider it more of an East-meets-West way of ushering in 2021. While its background of plum blossoms and auspicious messages of "Love", "Luck", "Hope", and "Peace" are trademarks of the Chinese celebration, I've departed from the traditional use of red and gold (symbols of wealth and prosperity in China). Instead, I've opted for sky blue, blush pink, and apple green - a spring-y palette that conveys growth and renewal to me, and to many of us here in the US. More than anything, my hope for 2021 is that we, as a people, embark on a different, more inclusive, and more loving path that brings us closer together, rather than further apart. It is this simple wish for renewal that guided this month's selections.
Here they are . . .
And here's where you can find all of these goodies on my partner Confection Couture Stencils' site:
- Chinese New Year Dynamic Duos™ Background Set (upper left),
- Chinese New Year Dynamic Duos™ Message and Frame Set (combined with the Duos™ background set; upper right),
- My partner Confection Couture Stencils' Chinese Clouds Cookie Stencil (lower right), and one of my fave early spring releases from years past . . .
- In Bloom Dynamic Duos™ Sets.
Pssst! Did you hear?! The background stencil in each month's background set is now being sold separately! So, if you aren't yet ready to make the leap to layered sets, you can get my gorgeous Blossom and Wave Background Stencil (pictured directly below) and make some very lavish designs with just it, as I'll soon show.
But first, a heads up to Stencil of the Month Club members! Here's what will land in your mailboxes later in January - basically my new background set and Confection Couture Stencils' latest Chinese Clouds Cookie Stencil . . .
To those not familiar with my monthly club, it allows you to get curated bundles of the very latest stencils at a substantial discount (~20% off) each month. Sound interesting? Then check out more club details and sign up here.
The very simplest thing to do with this set is to use just the background stencil. You could airbrush it in the classic red-and-gold Chinese New Year palette. Or you could amp up the color as I did with Spectrum Flow Sky Blue in the waves, AmeriMist Super Black for the branches and lanterns, AmeriMist Electric Green for some free-form spurts to evoke leaves, and a combination of Chefmaster Blushing Pink, AmeriMist Electric Purple, and AmeriMist Violet in the blossoms.
Note: Don't forget to exercise those precision-airbrushing techniques I taught you in my YouTube videos. (If you haven't seen them, then check out my stencil playlist stat! ) The openings on this stencil are small, as is the proximity of one opening to the next, so, to avoid overspray, you'll need to airbrush with a minimum of coloring flow and very close to the stencil.
Now, you could cover an entire cookie with the background stencil pattern, or just a portion of it to leave more "resting space" for the eyes. I've done both on the cookies pictured here:
Changing background icing colors also adds subtle, but interesting variations to a set. For instance, the cookie on the left has a pale pink background, whereas the background on the other cookie (below) is white.
And, because I'm a more-is-more person, I've also added a touch of dimension by gluing on an occasional wafer paper floret!
Of course, there's not much point to having this entire set if you don't use the foreground elements - the four different lantern styles. I've used all of them on the cookies below, and I've also applied them in three different ways: (1) directly airbrushed on the cookie; (2) as fondant appliqués (separate stenciled fondant pieces); and (3) as dimensional royal icing transfers. Can you tell which is which?
Not sure?! Maybe this closer look will help . . .
Yes! The tiny three-tier lanterns are airbrushed directly on the cookies, whereas the other two large round lanterns are airbrushed onto royal icing transfers. (You can tell because of their added poofiness!) Of the three lantern approaches used, this latter approach is my fave because it adds such lifelike dimension to cookies.
Now, another test! Which way have the two lanterns been made on these two cookies?
Still wondering? Here's a closer view . . .
Still not sure? Well, I'll tell you! The one to the left is a fondant appliqué. You can tell, because, even though the lantern is hovering over the cookie, it is entirely flat. By contrast, the rounded lantern to the right is a royal icing transfer. (To clarify: Its tassels and hanging cord are airbrushed directly on the cookie; just the lantern "body" itself is the transfer.)
Of course, I've just scratched the surface as far as designs possible with this one set. But, hopefully what I've shown here convinces you of this set's versatility. That versatility is amplified all the more when the complementary message and frame set is called into action, as I'm about to do in this next section . . .
As you can see above, this particular set consists of four messages and frames, but don't forget that the frames and messages can often be mixed and matched. In fact, two of the messages in this set ("Luck" and "Hope") will fit the other's frame.
So, how to add this set to the background set?! One idea is to dress up our earlier background stencil-only cookies with message fondant appliqués, added after the fact. And that's precisely what I've done here . . .
I love the drama of this tall photo, but let me zoom in to show you the details . . .
And closer still . . .
The beauty of fondant appliqués is I needn't commit them to cookies with icing until I'm 100-percent sure that I've got a configuration I like. I can arrange and re-arrange to my heart's content. As an example, here are the same two cookies shown above, now with two different messages and frames . . .
Darn! It's so hard to decide where to put those messages - the design variations in both photos look great (IMO)!
Of course, for a less dimensional, more streamlined look, you can always use the masking elements to leave room for airbrushing/stenciling the messages and frames directly onto the cookie, as shown on the cookie to the right . . .
And on slightly bigger cookies, you can also fit lanterns with framed messages, as in the cookie to the left . . .
Here's the same concept, just with a different message, and with the lantern and message flip-flopped . . .
Here's a closer look . . .
Again, precision-airbrushing comes into play here. See how little overspray I have?! It's all because I operate at very close range (1 to 1 1/2 inches away from the cookie) with barely any pullback on the airbrush trigger. This way, my spray stays focused and controlled, and pooling of coloring on the stencil top is minimized. (Pooling is bad, because the excess coloring can easily be sprayed into stencil openings and underneath the stencil.)
Personally, I love having all elements from both the background and message/frame sets in play on a cookie, while also having some dimension to the cookie top. The cookie to the right, below, best displays what I mean . . .
Even though this cookie is narrow (under 3 inches), it can comfortably fit both a lantern and a message. Plus, dimension is achieved in three ways, with: (1) a lantern royal icing transfer; (2) a message fondant appliqué; and (3) a fluffy wafer paper flower!
On this note, I leave you with two of my favorite photos, which display both the background and message/frame sets in action. I also share a (VERY) quick video of my airbrushing method and a few more of the many designs possible with these two sets!
I wish you and yours much luck, hope, peace, and love in 2021! Moreover, I hope everyone will put aside their differences with others and work hard to foster common understanding and kindness. Remember: United we stand; divided we fall! 😘
- My Dynamic Duos™ stencil sets
- My Stencil of the Month Club
- My entire stencil line, including my Prettier Plaques™ sets
- More Chinese New Year stencils
- My videos that show how to create layered looks with my stencil sets
If you have any technical questions about these stencils, just email me at email@example.com or leave a comment below. Please, however, direct all ordering and Club questions to my stencil partner, Confection Couture Stencils, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!