I just love this time of year, when spring turns to summer and color is bursting from every corner of creation! And so I thought, "What better time to do a challenge based on the color wheel?!" I am hoping that this challenge is a little lighter and a little more fun, just like summer reading lists. With this challenge, we'll look at the color wheel and how colors are naturally divided into two types of color groups: warm and cool. The challenge will be to make a set of cookies in exclusively one color family or the other.
Before I get into the details of the challenge itself, I would LOVE to talk about our terrific prize, generously donated by Cyndi Freeman of Vermont Rolling Pins. It will be awarded to one randomly drawn entrant to this challenge, and it is an absolutely beautiful solid cherry, hand-turned rolling pin (retail value: $75 USD), complete with built-in 1/4-inch guides to ensure that your cookies roll out nice and evenly every time.
This pin, officially called "The Cookie", is a covetable, collectable piece of cookie equipment for sure. As usual, the prize comes with free worldwide shipping, so every entrant is eligible to win, no matter where in the world s/he lives! And just in case you can't wait to own a solid cherry rolling pin of your own, or if you just want to ogle some of these beauties, you can visit Vermont Rolling Pins' website, and also follow them on Facebook and Instagram @vermontrollingpins.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: And check out my solid walnut pin, pictured below, also from Vermont Rolling Pins! It's made with 3/16-inch guides, since I roll my 3-D cookies thinner than most. It's truly a work of art and exceptionally well crafted! Thank you, Cyndi!]
And with that, let's talk about what you need to do to make owning that gorgeous cherry rolling pin a possibility!
The Color Wheel
I am sure most of you have at least seen or are vaguely familiar with color wheels. Basically, they are "an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors, etc." (Wikipedia). For purposes of this challenge, we will work with this color wheel:
(Credit: Mr. Luck/Shutterstock.com, used under license)
Warm Versus Cool Colors
Our color wheel, you may note, has been divided in half, into one group of "warm" colors and another group of "cool" or "cold" colors. Warm colors include red, orange, yellow, and some greens. Cool colors include violet, blue, and some other greens. Colors that are neither warm nor cold, but considered neutral, are black, white, and gray.
Things get a little murky at the dividing lines, where red meets violet, and in the greens. For purposes of this challenge, and as shown above in the color wheel, orange-reds are "warm" colors, whereas violet-reds are "cool." And when talking about greens, yellow-greens are considered "warm," whereas blue-greens are considered "cool." This is where the color spots on the left and right come in handy. The colors shown on the left are all "cool" colors, and the color spots on the right are "warm" colors. The spots do not show all of the possible colors that can be used in this challenge (because the true number of possible colors is literally endless), but they give us a guide when mixing colors.
For instance, if I want to use a cool color palette and need a green that is also cool, then I would choose to mix my green with some blue. Conversely, if I were using a warm color palette, and wanted to use green, I would use a green mixed with yellow. Similarly, with red, if I want a cool red, I would need to mix red with some violet or blue, and if I wanted a warm red, I would use true red or red mixed with orange or yellow.
For an excellent discussion of warm versus cool colors, and how we perceive colors and naturally filter them into these categories, do check out this excellent blog post by Truth is Beauty. And for a more technical discussion, check out this outstanding article, Color Temperature, over at handprint.com.
Mixing Icing Colors
Once you have a handle on what constitutes a warm or cool color, the challenge is to recreate those colors so you can use them in your cookie decorating. There are several very good cookie blogs and books out there that go into color theory and color mixing in varying degrees of detail. If you would like to read more about color theory or how to more accurately mix colors, specifically relating to icing, I encourage you to look at the following sources:
- Icing color mixing tips and charts in The Cookie Companion and The Cookie Companion Color Charts by Georganne Bell (@LilaLoa); available for purchase on Amazon
- Icing color mixing charts by Callye Alvarado aka Sweet Sugarbelle; available free online
- In-depth color theory and detailed mixing charts by Rebekah Shaw, formerly of Love at First Bite, and co-host (with Rebecca Weld) of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #3 - Color; available free online
Now that we're armed with knowledge of the difference between warm and cool colors and how to mix those colors, let's talk about what I want you to do in this challenge. I would like you to create a BRAND NEW set of summer- or winter-themed cookies that is decorated exclusively in either warm or cool colors. But first, I want to show you a few examples of cookie sets that use exclusively warm or cool color palettes.
Examples of cookies decorated in warm colors:
Sweet Bouquet by Silviya Mihailova
Summer Fruit Ice Cream by Sugarcat
Cinco de Mayo by Maddy D's Sweets
Examples of cookies decorated in cool colors:
Winter Onederland by BZ Bees Sweet Treats
A New Baby Boy! by Delorse
Snowflakes and Snowmen by katydoescookies
I think the contrast between warm and cool is pretty striking when you see so many examples side-by-side, no?
One last thought: Warm colors always work well together, and colors in the cool spectrum always work well together. And if you really want to take your color palette to the next level, and create some "pop," I find that it is very effective to use a handful of colors in one color spectrum (cool or warm), and then add a single color from the other side of the wheel, as I did in this set:
Cool Yule by Bakerloo Station
See what I did there? I used an all-cool color palette, and then added one color from the warm side of the color wheel - the lime green. This is a favorite color palette "trick" I like to use in my own cookie sets, and I hope that you all will give it a try after this challenge, because my "Cool Yule" set, cool as it is, would NOT qualify for this challenge!
So, you may be asking, what are the requirements for this challenge? Glad you asked! Here are the rules. Please read and follow them carefully.
1. Create a set of five (5) or more cookies.
2. Your set of cookies must be decorated in exclusively one color family - EITHER "warm" OR "cool."
3. To make things a little more interesting, and in consideration of the very international membership that we have here on Cookie Connection, you must make your set of cookies in a theme based on the hemisphere in which you live!
- If you live in the northern hemisphere, make a set of summer-themed cookies.
- If you live in the southern hemisphere, make a set of winter-themed cookies.
4. Neutral colors (black, white, and gray) may be used freely, regardless of which color palette you choose. (NOTE: Beige/ivory is NOT a neutral color. It is a warm color. Similarly, off-whites are NOT neutral, but are either warm or cold, depending on what color has been added to the white.)
5. As always, we ask that you make a brand new set of cookies for this challenge.
6. Think outside the box, take some healthy risks, and HAVE SOME FUN.
- Please post an image of your cookie set to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than July 9, 2017 at 5 pm central.
- Because these challenges are ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #23" 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 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 July 9, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (July 15). 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. If you are in doubt as to whether a particular color is warm or cold, please send me a private message, and I will be happy to help you!
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.