I love these last lazy days of summer, when we savor every bit of sunlight, wistfully listen to the crickets, and spend as much unconstructed time with family and friends as we can squeeze in before the fall and school and real life invade again. Summer is really about taking a breather and reconnecting ourselves with the people who really matter to us.
Sometimes, as cookiers, we tend to be (or can some across as) a bit more introverted than most (or at least that's the word on the street!). While making cookies can be extremely rewarding and even therapeutic, it can also be isolating, sitting in your kitchen hour after hour, day after day, and year after year all by yourself, cranking out dozens and dozens of cookies. And so, it dawned on me, while sitting on my summer porch, that we should have a collaboration challenge, where cookiers could make not just cookie connections, but cookie-person connections, and design and produce beautiful works of cookie art TOGETHER.
Before I get to the specifics of this exciting collaboration challenge, I would like to talk about the prize for it. As with all of our challenges, one lucky challenge entrant will be chosen at random to receive this challenge's prize. "And what IS the prize?", you may ask. Well, here it is . . . a surprise grab bag of cookie decorating tools and ingredients from Julia, Cookie Connection's founder (retail value: $100). Word has it she may even toss in some of the very first stencils from her soon-to-be-released culinary stencil line.
Now, I have to admit that the idea for a collaboration challenge did not just come to me out of thin air. In fact, the seeds for this challenge came from a series of entries for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #16, after which Ryoko ~Cookie Ave. and Manu teamed up to create this lovely cookie:
A Day of the Flower Girl 3 by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.
For their collaboration, Ryoko had the initial idea, which was based on two previous challenge cookies: A Day of the Flower Girl 1 and A Day of the Flower Girl 2. As I understand the story, the collaboration came about when Ryoko had an idea for A Day of the Flower Girl 3, but was unable to bring her idea to fruition. She reached out to Manu, who took Ryoko's vision and sketched it to life:
Ryoko then "cookified" Manu's sketch, and the result was A Day of the Flower Girl 3, shown above.
Anyway, the Ryoko-Manu collaboration definitely got my wheels spinning, so to speak! I thought that if Cookie Connection could provide the forum for a cookie artist from Japan to collaborate with a cookie artist from Italy, and then share their finished work with the world cookie community, then why couldn't we use the Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge to do this on a broader scale? Thus, the idea for this latest challenge was born!
This challenge will be a bit different than the Ryoko-Manu collaboration in operation, but it will be the same in its cooperative spirit! Basically, for this challenge, I would like you to work in pairs to create a small set of cookies that fit the theme, "You Complete Me."
1. Find a cookie buddy to collaborate with! Use the private messaging feature here on Cookie Connection to make the connection. Or, use the comments to this challenge post to find a buddy. (I suppose you could also try Tinder, but. . .)
2. Create a set of at least six (6) cookies that fit with the theme "You Complete Me," however you want to interpret it. Possible interpretations of the theme might include: a set of wedding or love-inspired or relationship-inspired cookies, or maybe a cookie puzzle, or maybe each cookier creates one half of a single scene, or each cookier creates half of the pieces of an intricate multiple-cookie pattern/design. Note: These are just a few suggestions based on the theme, but the theme is very open to YOUR own interpretation.
3. When posting your entries, each individual entrant must post a picture of only the cookies that s/he has personally made. (Your buddy will then post a picture of the cookies s/he made for the challenge as his or her own separate entry.)
4. In the first comment to your entry, you must post a picture of the completed collaboration set (including the cookies made by your collaboration buddy). This could be two pictures placed side-by-side to show a whole scene, or a collage of multiple pictures/cookies, or a flip book or stop-motion film, to list a few possibilities. I am anticipating that people will have buddies, like Ryoko and Manu, who live thousands of miles from each other, and will have to rely on technology to combine their cookie creations into one comprehensive whole. However, if you happen to live near your buddy or have the chance to ship the cookies to each other so that the cookies can be photographed together, go for it!
5. Also in that first comment to your entry, you must describe the nature of the collaboration. Specifically, in that first comment, you must state: (a) how the collaboration worked, including who did what parts of the collaboration, and (b) how your finished cookie collaboration fits the "You Complete Me" theme. Buddies can copy and paste the same complete collaboration photos and explanations, or each entrant can post his or her own explanation, but there must be an explanation in the first comment under each person's entry.
6. Any technique(s) may be used in creating the finished set of cookies - the sky's the limit!
7. As always, we ask that you make a brand new set of cookies for this challenge.
8. You can enter more than once with the same collaboration buddy or a different one, but each collaboration that is entered must be a completely different concept and execution.
9. You can only work in teams of two, just you and one collaboration buddy for each entry.
10. Think outside the box, take some healthy risks, and HAVE SOME FUN.
- Please post an image of your cookie or cookie set to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than September 25, 2016 at 5 pm central.
- Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #18" 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 (like Collaboration Cookies!) 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.)
After the challenge has closed on September 25, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight on the following weekend (October 1). 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.
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.