As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of the next, I find myself reflecting on what has happened in my life over the last year, and trying to figure out what went well, what went less well, and what I can do to improve in the new year. I take the same approach to my cookie art. Looking back on the previous year's "portfolio," I reflect on what went well, what went less well, and what I can do to improve and take my art to the next level.
In reviewing my portfolio, I can see that there are some sets and themes that I seem to dwell on and come back to time and again. Annual holiday-themed sets naturally come to mind, but so do other sets and themes that, for whatever reason, just captivate me, challenge me, and keep me fired up about my cookie art. For me, these themes usually involve birds, nature, and modern patterns and prints. Some sets of cookies have turned out exactly according to plan, and others, not so much. Some sets of cookies have caused me to fall deeply in love, and others have made me cringe. I have learned from them all - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and have grown as an artist.
However, we all have those cookies and sets that, for whatever reason, merit a second crack. Maybe it was a set that didn't turn out quite as planned, or one where later-acquired cookie decorating skills or tools made other design elements possible. Or perhaps you later realized that a different color palette would have worked better.
This all finally brings me to the latest Practice Bakes Perfect challenge. For this challenge, I want you to look through your own portfolio of cookies - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and pick a set that you want to redo, for whatever reason. This is your big chance to finally remake that set that has been begging to be redone. And you KNOW we ALL have one (or, in my case, 20)!
Before we get to some rules, let's first talk about the prize for this challenge. As with all of our challenges, one lucky challenge entrant will be chosen at random to receive this challenge's prize: a never-before-used airbrush courtesy of Cookie Connection founder Julia M Usher! (She may even sneak in a few other treats, but she tells me they're a surprise.)
Now that you're tantalized by this fabulous prize, let's talk about the challenge details. For this challenge, I would like you to to choose a set of cookies from your own cookie portfolio and recreate it in a different way. I do NOT want you to make another near-exact copy of a previous set. I want you to reimagine one of your previous creations to create a new one. To give you an idea of where I am going with this challenge, here are a few examples of cookie sets that I have reimagined and redone.
Christmas Set Redo
As you can see, both sets contain many of the same elements - Santas, trees, brown woodland animals, and snowflakes - but the two sets are also quite different in overall style and execution (not to mention my photography skills!). I really wanted to redo the Santas to create faces with a little more personality, and to create my own mod designs for the Christmas trees (the 2013 set used a design largely based on one by Corrie Cakes done in 2012).
Confirmation Set Redo
In the case of these confirmation sets, I can honestly say that I love both. However, when I was asked to make the second set of cookies, I wanted to do things a little differently. (I rarely like to do exactly the same set of cookies twice!) The 2016 set gave me the opportunity to experiment with the baked crackle effect, and, in the process, save a little time over the handwritten background in the large center plaque in the original set. Secondly, I started using Rolkem Super Gold Dust last year, and in my redo set, I was able to use it to make the halo a much brighter gold. Also, note all of the lettering in the 2016 set. It was accomplished with my new-ish pico projector from AAXA Technologies, another piece of equipment that I did not have in 2014 when I made the original set. Finally, while I like the wet-on-wet, painted doves in my original set, I really wanted to make cookies that were actually bird-shaped. So, for my redo set, I handpainted them black on white again, but used a hummingbird cutter with a trimmed beak.
Buttlerflies and Flowers Set Redo
Not only is this example a stroll down memory lane for me (the original set was made 10 years ago!), but I think it is a pretty striking redo. I used the exact same flower and butterfly cutters, but amped up the color palette, added black piping, and used a few different wet-on-wet marbling effects.
So, now I hope you have an idea of what I mean when I say "redo," so let's go ahead and talk about the rules for this challenge.
1. Create a set of five (or more) cookies that is a redo of a previous set of cookies from your own cookie portfolio.
2. In the first comment under your entry, please post a picture of your original set of cookies and explain the changes you made to it in creating your redo set.
3. As always, we ask that you make a brand new set of cookies for this challenge.
4. Think outside the box, take some healthy risks, and HAVE SOME FUN.
- Please post an image of your redo cookie set to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than January 22, 2017 at 5 pm central.
- Again, please post a picture of the original set of cookies that were the inspiration for your redo in the first comment under your entry photo. Also include a description of the elements that were changed in your redo and why. This information is a requirement of the challenge; entries without it will be disqualified.
- Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #20" in your photo caption (subtitle 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 cookies as you normally would.
- Please also assign other relevant clip sets 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.)
- You can enter more than once, but please post only one clip of each distinct entry/cookie set. Multiple clips of the same entry/cookie set are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.
After the challenge has closed on January 22, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (January 28). 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.