Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #17: Stenciled Scenes

 

Welcome to the latest Practice Bakes Perfect challenge! This time around we are going to work on a specific, and very versatile and useful technique - stenciling. And, I must confess, this challenge is challenging for ME! I currently own only about half a dozen stencils, and have used them on precisely ONE project EVER - my mixed media set for Practice Bake Perfect Challenge #15. I have lots of reasons (ahem, excuses) for not using stencils more often, but I think the time has come for me and YOU all to overcome our stenciling hang-ups; raise our airbrushes, paint brushes, and offset spatulas; and kick our cookie games up a notch!

Not only will challenge entrants gain some mad stenciling skills, but they will also have a chance to win a FABULOUS prize! Specifically, one lucky, randomly chosen entrant will receive a gift certificate (retail value $50 USD) to the amazing stencil company, Stencibelle, which has been generously donated by Stencibelle owner and fellow Cookie Connection member, Belle Harris aka Belleissimo Cookies.  

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And, if you can't wait until the end of this challenge for the chance to own some of these gorgeous stencils, you can purchase them directly from Stencibelle online TODAY.

Now, back to our challenge . . .

For Challenge #17, I would like you to use multiple stencils and stenciling techniques together on a single cookie to create a scene, such as this underwater scene by Belleissimo Cookies:

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Here, Belle used four different stencils for the water, seaweed, bubbles, and scales. She also used four different stenciling techniques (which we will discuss in further detail below): airbrushing (the water), spreading royal icing (bubbles and seaweed), sponging (seaweed), and dusting with petal/luster dusts (scales).

Don't own any stencils, you say? No problem! If you don't want to buy them, you can make your own out of paper, as Sweet Sugarbelle does in this tutorial, or using blank stencil sheets, as Haniela's does in this tutorial. Julia M. Usher even makes her own stencils using frosting sheets and craft punches, which are especially useful for curved cookies. You can see Julia's frosting sheet stencil tutorial here. If you are aware of other helpful tutorials for making your own stencils, or have a different technique of your own, we would love to hear about it, so please feel free to post links and tips in the comments to this post!

After you have bought or made your own stencils, you can start to think about some of the many ways those stencils can be used. Let's call these "stenciling techniques":

  • Stenciling with an Airbrush or Aerosol Can Color Sprays - This is probably the most frequently used stenciling technique, where you lay the stencil flat against the cookie and spray color with an airbrush. The trick with this technique is not to get any "underspray." For more tips on stenciling with an airbrush, you can checkout this tutorial by Sweet Sugarbelle. And for a super-helpful tip on how to prevent the smudges that can occur when excess airbrush color collects on the stencil, you can watch this amusing video by Sweet Hope Cookies.
  • Stenciling with Royal Icing - This is where you lay the stencil atop the cookie and spread thick royal icing over the stencil, and then lift the stencil, leaving a dimensional stencil pattern. To see how it's done, Julia M. Usher has a great blog post on how to stencil with royal icing. 
  • Stenciling with Petal/Luster Dusts - This is where you lay the stencil flush against the cookie, and using a dry paint brush, brush dry petal or luster dusts over the stencil openings.
  • Stenciling with Sponges - This is where you place the stencil directly onto a cookie, and literally dab food coloring or royal icing on with a sponge or sponge brush. Here is a tutorial on this technique (and some of the others) by Sweet Art Factory.
  • Transfers Made with a Stencil - You can use a stencil to create a template for piped royal icing transfers, as the Bearfoot Baker does here. Or, you can make royal icing transfers by using royal icing to stencil an object or pattern onto a silicone mat or acetate sheet, allowing the transfer to dry, and then transferring onto a cookie. 

Now that you know all about how to make stencils and the various techniques that can be used with them, let's discuss the rules for this challenge. Please read and follow them CAREFULLY.

Rules:

1.  Create a stenciled "scene" on a single cookie. Merriam-Webster defines a scene as "a view or sight that looks like a picture." A scene is like the backdrop of a theatrical production, which may or may not include other objects or people. In my mind, a scene is a particular place or setting, real or imagined. In our example above, the "scene" is an underwater place/location with a mermaid. (July 12, 2016 update: This rule is NO longer required, though all others are still required.)

2.  Create your stenciled scene using a minimum of three different stencils AND three different techniques, choosing from the list of techniques above. All of these stencils and techniques must be used on your one cookie. You MUST also state which stencils and techniques you used in the first comment under your entry. Please note: Using multiple shapes on the same stencil does not count as using more than one stencil. For instance, if you use a dog and a cat shape that are both on one larger pet stencil, then this counts as the use of one stencil, not two. You must use three distinct stencils.

3.  Although a scene created entirely with stencils is preferred in this challenge, you may include one, and only one, additional medium, such as the fondant mermaid tail in our example.

4.  As always, we ask that you make a brand new cookie for this challenge. 

5.  Think outside the box, take some healthy risks, and HAVE SOME FUN.

 To enter:
  • Please post an image of your cookie to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than July 17, 2016 at 5 pm central.  (July 12, 2016 update: The challenge will now close on July 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm central time, with the winner and challenge highlights posted in the Saturday Spotlight on July 30.)
  • Please state which stencils and techniques you used in your entry in the first comment under the photo. 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 #17" in your photo caption 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 cookie as you normally would.
  • Please also assign other relevant clip sets and tags to your image, as you normally would. (Meaning don't just use the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set and leave it at that, or your photo 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. Multiple clips of the same entry/cookie are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip. Please also use different stencils in different ways on each entry.

After the challenge has closed on July 17, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (July 23). The next challenge will be announced after that Spotlight(July 12, 2016 update: Again, the challenge will now close on July 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm central time, with the winner and challenge highlights posted in the Saturday Spotlight on July 30.)

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 (other than, "How do I get my airbrush out of the box?"), are having trouble getting started, need help bringing an idea to life, or want technical advice, please leave a comment below.

*** IMPORTANT UPDATE TO RULES ON JULY 12, 2016 ***

After monitoring the latest challenge for the last few weeks, and noting your collective struggles with it, I have decided to revise the latest challenge in the following ways:

  1. The requirement that the entry specifically depict a "scene" has been eliminated.
  2. Entries previously submitted, but removed from the challenge for failing to meet the "scene" requirement, will be reconsidered. In order to have an entry reconsidered, please edit your clip to re-include "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenges" in your clip sets.
  3. In light of these modifications, the deadline for the challenge will be extended. The challenge will now close on July 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm central time, with the winner and challenge highlights posted in the Saturday Spotlight on July 30.

If anyone has questions about these changes, please feel free to post comments below.

P.S. For the other contest guidelines, please refer to the original post, directly above. All other rules still apply.

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

NotePractice 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.

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Anne Marie Adams posted:
Thank you very much I appreciate your prompt response I figured out that I
probably didn't do it' properly it was a last minute thought to try and
enter the contest I thought I should go in head first and give it a try
thank you for saying my cookie was not that bad I will do better next time
just to let you know I am very new at using computers and don't understand
them quite yet so please have patience with me I'm learning on both sides I
will contact you if I do need any assistance when will the next challenge
start I'm eager to going this is giving me something to look forward to
again thank you please have a good day and live sweetly

Anne - No worries; it may take a little while to get acclimated to all of the resources on this site! There's a lot here!  The next challenge will post about a week from this coming Sunday, so around August 7, but the exact date can vary depending on Christine's schedule and mine - we both work other jobs and our contributions here are on a volunteer basis. But typically, after a challenge closes, the recap of the challenge posts the following Saturday and then the next challenge posts the following Sunday. You can always see when the next challenge posts by watching the home page - there is a green link about mid-page which will indicate when the challenge is open. Right now, it says Challenge #17 is closed. Hope this helps a bit.

Thank you very much I appreciate your prompt response I figured out that I
probably didn't do it' properly it was a last minute thought to try and
enter the contest I thought I should go in head first and give it a try
thank you for saying my cookie was not that bad I will do better next time
just to let you know I am very new at using computers and don't understand
them quite yet so please have patience with me I'm learning on both sides I
will contact you if I do need any assistance when will the next challenge
start I'm eager to going this is giving me something to look forward to
again thank you please have a good day and live sweetly
Julia M. Usher posted:
Anne Marie Adams posted:
I'd like to enter your practice bakes perfect contest. this is my first
entry. I have never decorating a cookie before this and it shows I do
believe I have met the challenge I've used three different stencils and
three different techniques the heart Swan stencil the trees and flowers or
another stencil in the grass is of another I hope you will accept my entry
and if I not entered the contest properly please let me know for next time
please and thank you

I am so sorry, Anne. While this cookie is lovely, you posted it in the wrong area, which is reason #1 that is is not entered in the challenge. Next time, you need to post the entry into the Clips section of the site (see detailed instructions above under "To Enter"). Instead, you posted your clip under the original blog post about the challenge, which is an area we don't monitor for the challenge, and so it got overlooked. The second reason is that in order to qualify for this challenge, we asked you to list or show the three stencils used AND also list/describe the three stenciling techniques that you used (see Rule #2 above). You may have listed the stencils used above, but you did not mention the techniques. I hope you will enter next time, but be sure you know how to post a photo to the Clips section before you do, because we can't guarantee we'll spot images posted to other areas of the site. Thank you.

Anne Marie Adams posted:
I'd like to enter your practice bakes perfect contest. this is my first
entry. I have never decorating a cookie before this and it shows I do
believe I have met the challenge I've used three different stencils and
three different techniques the heart Swan stencil the trees and flowers or
another stencil in the grass is of another I hope you will accept my entry
and if I not entered the contest properly please let me know for next time
please and thank you

Anne, I agree with everything Julia Usher has said.  Because this was a very late-posting clip and it does not comply with all of the rules, we cannot consider it for the challenge.  I do hope, however, that you will give the next challenge a try - just be sure to read all of the rules and make sure you know how to properly post a clip to the Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge set.  There are instruction on how to do this all over the site, but if you need any help for a future challenge, please let us know well in advance of the challenge deadline so we adequate time to lend a hand.  

Anne Marie Adams posted:
I'd like to enter your practice bakes perfect contest. this is my first
entry. I have never decorating a cookie before this and it shows I do
believe I have met the challenge I've used three different stencils and
three different techniques the heart Swan stencil the trees and flowers or
another stencil in the grass is of another I hope you will accept my entry
and if I not entered the contest properly please let me know for next time
please and thank you

I am so sorry, Anne. While this cookie is lovely, you posted it in the wrong area, which is reason #1 that is is not entered in the challenge. Next time, you need to post the entry into the Clips section of the site (see detailed instructions above under "To Enter"). Instead, you posted your clip under the original blog post about the challenge, which is an area we don't monitor for the challenge, and so it got overlooked. The second reason is that in order to qualify for this challenge, we asked you to list or show the three stencils used AND also list/describe the three stenciling techniques that you used (see Rule #2 above). You may have listed the stencils used above, but you did not mention the techniques. I hope you will enter next time, but be sure you know how to post a photo to the Clips section before you do, because we can't guarantee we'll spot images posted to other areas of the site. Thank you.

I'd like to enter your practice bakes perfect contest. this is my first
entry. I have never decorating a cookie before this and it shows I do
believe I have met the challenge I've used three different stencils and
three different techniques the heart Swan stencil the trees and flowers or
another stencil in the grass is of another I hope you will accept my entry
and if I not entered the contest properly please let me know for next time
please and thank you

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Thank you very much you replied very promptly please forgive me for getting
the name of the challenge wrong Practice Makes Perfect Challenge I am
looking forward to entering many of them I just think it's amazing what
people can do with a little cookie
Anne Marie Adams posted:

Good day, my name is Anne Adams, and I have a question. I am a first-time cookie decorator (brand new at it) and I am interested in entering your next Perfect Bakes Challenge. Could you please post a example of a proper entry clip. I am also new at computers and I am not sure of what you want us to do. Please and thank you  from a friendly Canada.

Hi, Anne! To find properly posted challenge entries, all you need to do is go to the Practice Bakes Perfect challenge clip set under the Clips section in the main navigation line, OR go to the home page and click on any of the photos in the scrolling challenge gallery (the third one from the top). Here's the direct link to the latter: http://cookieconnection.juliau...rfect?fileType=IMAGE

Please note, however, that what constitutes a "proper" entry in our current challenge (#17) may be different than what will be required in our next challenge (not yet announced), as the particular rules differ from challenge to challenge. Though more general things, like selecting the challenge clip set and listing the name of the challenge in a tag and in the caption under the photo title, are the same for each challenge.

I hope I've answered your question. And I hope to see your work in the next challenge.

Good day, my name is Anne Adams, and I have a question. I am a first-time cookie decorator (brand new at it) and I am interested in entering your next Perfect Bakes Challenge. Could you please post a example of a proper entry clip. I am also new at computers and I am not sure of what you want us to do. Please and thank you  from a friendly Canada.

Hello, everybody!

After monitoring the latest challenge for the last few weeks, and noting your collective struggles with it, I have decided to revise the latest challenge in the following ways:

  1. The requirement that the entry specifically depict a "scene" has been eliminated.
  2. Entries previously submitted, but removed from the challenge for failing to meet the "scene" requirement, will be reconsidered. In order to have an entry reconsidered, please edit your clip to re-include "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenges" in your clip sets.
  3. In light of these modifications, the deadline for the challenge will be extended. The challenge will now close on July 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm central time, with the winner and challenge highlights posted in the Saturday Spotlight on July 30.

If anyone has questions about these changes, please feel free to post comments below.

P.S. For the other contest guidelines, please refer to the original post, directly above. All other rules still apply.

Laegwen posted:

Gosh, this really is a hard one... I guess I will have to involve my sister (or rather her brand new plotter she will get for her birthday next week) to make some stencils for me.

Stencils truly are my kryptonite, I hope they will not get the better of me

Leoni, I think you'll really enjoy this challenge!! Stencils are really fun to work with but the challenge definitely goes outside my experience with stencil work...still I think I'll give it a try . Hope you do too!!!

Gosh, this really is a hard one... I guess I will have to involve my sister (or rather her brand new plotter she will get for her birthday next week) to make some stencils for me.

Stencils truly are my kryptonite, I hope they will not get the better of me

Baby Gabey Cookies posted:

I'm new to cookie connection. This looks like fun. I want all of Belle's stencils.��

These challenges are always fun! Welcome to the site - I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to seeing what you do for this challenge! 

NaGeRa posted:
Bakerloo Station posted:
NaGeRa posted:

Sorry, one question: if I put royal icing just to make the base of the cookie, it does not count as additional medium, does it?

Thanks for your clarification!

Good question!  No, a base flood of royal icing or glaze or such does NOT count as your one additional element.

Thank Goodness!

By the way, I forgot to thank you for this post, it is so interesting how you summarize those different stenciling techniques! Thanks a lot for your effort

Thanks!  Did I let my bullet-point-loving, list-loving, lawyer side show too much on this one?  

Bakerloo Station posted:
NaGeRa posted:

Sorry, one question: if I put royal icing just to make the base of the cookie, it does not count as additional medium, does it?

Thanks for your clarification!

Good question!  No, a base flood of royal icing or glaze or such does NOT count as your one additional element.

Thank Goodness!

By the way, I forgot to thank you for this post, it is so interesting how you summarize those different stenciling techniques! Thanks a lot for your effort

NaGeRa posted:

Sorry, one question: if I put royal icing just to make the base of the cookie, it does not count as additional medium, does it?

Thanks for your clarification!

Good question!  No, a base flood of royal icing or glaze or such does NOT count as your one additional element.

Tina At Sugar Wishes posted:

Great idea. Question. I don't own many stencils and with the few I have most include  several different objects on the same stencil. So if I chose 3 different objects off that 1 stencil is that like using 3 stencils. Ex. Farm animals. 1 stencil has several animals. Do you understand my question? Or do I need to take an animal off one stencil and combine it with parts of  another 2 stencils - say background and clouds? Thanks. 

Hi Tina!  Yes, you must use three different stencils for this challenge.  You could always make one out of paper, if you do not own one that will work.  I own literally about 6 stencils, so I am in the same boat on this challenge!

Cookies Fantastique by Carol posted:

This is a great challenge...especially with all the various techniques that can be used in your design. Thank you for explaining the "rules" so clearly. That's a big help. Should I choose to enter I will definitely refer to this post.

Thanks for all that you do on CC Christine!!! I really appreciate your involvement and contributions to the cookie community .

Thanks so much, Carol!  You are always so encouraging in your comments and such an outstanding participant in these challenge, both through your entries and your very lovely comments to the participants.  Thank YOU.

This is a great challenge...especially with all the various techniques that can be used in your design. Thank you for explaining the "rules" so clearly. That's a big help. Should I choose to enter I will definitely refer to this post.

Thanks for all that you do on CC Christine!!! I really appreciate your involvement and contributions to the cookie community .

What a fun challenge. I never thought of using my stencils to make transfers. Now I need to go buy some of those sponge dabbers to try that too!!!

I also want to comment that I really love the stencibelle stencils. Having a stencil on both ends is a bonus. I get tired of paying so much for a pretty basic stencil. With these I feel like I'm getting two for the price of one!!!

Oh gosh.  I'm with you; this will be a tough challenge for me.  I like the overall "Scene" idea, however.  This will be challenging for me because my cookies occur so "organically" as I go along.  This challenge will require REAL planning!  Okay, I'm in, fingers and toes crossed!  Thanks Christine.

Great idea. Question. I don't own many stencils and with the few I have most include  several different objects on the same stencil. So if I chose 3 different objects off that 1 stencil is that like using 3 stencils. Ex. Farm animals. 1 stencil has several animals. Do you understand my question? Or do I need to take an animal off one stencil and combine it with parts of  another 2 stencils - say background and clouds? Thanks. 

Kim Damon posted:

OK, more questions... " additional medium" item...w/ the stenciled parts can we hand paint? Or must all the elements detail come from stencils? In other words, the outside of a leaf stenciled and details like veins of the leaf painted (is that ok?)

Yes, handpainting leaf stems is okay, but as the guidelines state above, this would be the ONE additional medium allowed in this case. All other details would have to come from stenciling in one of the ways on Christine's list.

OK, more questions... " additional medium" item...w/ the stenciled parts can we hand paint? Or must all the elements detail come from stencils? In other words, the outside of a leaf stenciled and details like veins of the leaf painted (is that ok?)

Kim Damon posted:

Oh, how fun!! This one put about 3 images in my mind mind instantly! I can't wait to work on them. It's actually fun to have only one cookie at a time, so as time allows I can plug away at each one (and be finished sooner . Are accompanying cookies allowed to make up a set or just the one?

Just the ONE cookie per entry, please. It will make it easier to identify if challenge rules were met, and level the playing field, so to speak. You can, of course, enter more than once, but each entry needs to be a completely different SINGLE cookie.

Oh, how fun!! This one put about 3 images in my mind mind instantly! I can't wait to work on them. It's actually fun to have only one cookie at a time, so as time allows I can plug away at each one (and be finished sooner . Are accompanying cookies allowed to make up a set or just the one?

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