What makes something vintage? For me, it has always been more of an "I-know-it-when-I-see-it" kind of thing. But then I got to thinking: what actual qualities of a thing, when put together, make my brain think, "Yes, that's vintage!"? In this 25th "Silver Anniversary Edition" of Practice Bakes Perfect (does that make the challenge vintage?!), we will discuss not only what makes something vintage, but also the many techniques you can use to make cookies with a vintage-y vibe.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let's talk about our little incentive for giving this challenge a go! For this challenge, as with all of our Practice Bakes Perfect challenges, there will be a PRIZE awarded to one lucky challenge entrant, whose name will be chosen at random from among all of the challenge entrants. Specifically, for this challenge, this one lucky entrant will receive a soon-to-be-released "Julia" airbrush, designed by Cookie Connection host Julia M. Usher specifically for cookie and cake decorating. Julia is in the last stages of product development as we speak, and expects some changes to the engraving, but this prototype is more or less what you'll be getting along with a compressor to power it, of course. Julia also reminded me that airbrushes are great tools for "aging" cookie edges and creating other vintage effects!
And now, let's get back to our discussion of all things vintage!
In putting this challenge together, I looked at lots and lots of official definitions, and what I came away with was that "vintage" refers to something that is pretty old, but not so old as to qualify as "antique." Generally, people consider something, such as a rug or a dress or a piece of furniture, vintage if it is between, roughly, 50 and 100 years old. Older than 100 years, and that same thing suddenly becomes "antique." Less than 50-ish years old, and the same item is merely "retro," "old," or simply "used."
Now, when are talking about cookies, there is really no such thing as literally vintage, since, of course, no one would want a cookie that is actually 50 to 100 years old! (Although, maybe I would save one of @Julia M. Usher's Christmas ornament cookies for 50 years, but I digress . . . ) What we are really talking about when dealing with cookies is something that is vintage-inspired. But what, exactly, does that mean? I believe it means creating something that looks like it could have come from another era, 50 to 100 years ago, either by virtue of the subject/theme or by virtue of its style/design. Allow me to illustrate with a few examples.
Vintage Jewelry by Love Bug Cookies
This stunning set by @Love Bug Cookies ticks all of the vintage boxes. These cookies are vintage-inspired, both because of the subject (jewelry from the early 20th century) and the style (use of muted tones, colors of the period, and brown "aging" around the edges of the cookies).
Vintage Father's Day Cookies by LDcakery
This set definitely has that vintage feel, but in this case, unlike in the previous example, only the style is vintage. The subject matter - barbecue - is not vintage in and of itself, since barbecue is not something that is limited to an earlier time. But the style of this set - the color palette, the fonts, the handwritten words, the distressing - is very vintage.
Vintage Valentines by Cookie Celebration LLC
This very vintage set by @Cookie Celebration LLC utilizes wafer paper imprinted with actual vintage images, and then layers on the vintage-y style using a muted color palette, lots of roses, and lace.
Vintage Flag Platter by Creative Cookier
Here, @Creative Cookier took something as timeless and simple as the American flag, and gave it some vintage style with a distressed finish and dashed lines that make it look stitched and reminiscent of a time when flags were actually handmade.
Vintage Lamps by Mrs. Joy
In this example, @Mrs. Joy chose a vintage subject, turn-of-the-century lamps, and the vintage style naturally follows the vintage subject.
For lots of other examples of vintage cookie art, you can search the term "vintage" right here on Cookie Connection. (In fact, here's what comes up when you do.)
With the above examples in mind, let's talk about exactly how you can achieve a vintage look for your cookies and create a set of cookies for this Practice Bakes Perfect challenge! As noted above, a set of cookies can be vintage by virtue of the subject/theme or by style/design. Previously, we discussed that a vintage subject/ theme is something that existed about 50 to 100 years ago, such as in the jewelry example above. Vintage subjects can range from turn-of the century clothing or furniture or machines to art such as print adverts and travel posters. The possibilities are literally endless.
But as we also saw in the examples above, when it comes to creating cookies, almost anything can be made to look vintage, and this is what I mean when I say something can be vintage in style/design. To achieve the appearance of being vintage, regardless of the subject/ theme, you can use any number of decorating techniques. While not an exhaustive list, some of the most commonly used techniques are:
- Color palette (Use colors and palettes that were popular during a particular time in the past.)
- Muted/faded colors (Regardless of medium, all colors fade with time, and using more muted shades of colors make those colors look faded.)
- Distressing (You might be most familiar with this technique on furniture, but the same effect can be created on cookies as well! Think: roughing up the icing with a microplaner or scratching icing off a cookie with a scribe tool, for instance.)
- Choice of embellishments (Adorn your cookies with things that were widely used in an earlier era, such as roses, pearls, lace, bronze and gold metallics, and faux stitching.)
- Shading along edges (Lightly color the edges of your cookies brown or gray.)
Additionally, here are some useful tutorials for achieving a vintage look utilizing many of the techniques listed above:
- Get Inspired with Dolce Sentire: Vintage Sunflower Postcard (tutorial using multiple vintage techniques by @Dolce Sentire - Aixa Zunino)
- How to Antique a Cookie with a Water Brush (by @LilaLoa)
- Vintage Inspired Cookies (tutorial using shading with petal and luster dusts by @SweetAmbs)
- How to Distress Sugar Cookies for an Aged Look (by @Lisa Snyder of The Bearfoot Baker)
- Antiqued Label Cookie (by @Lizy B on @SweetSugarBelle's site)
And now that your vintage "toolbox" is fully equipped, let's get to the rules for this challenge.
1. Create a cohesive set of five (5) or more vintage-inspired cookies. (All of the cookies in your set should be stylistically or thematically related in some way.)
2. You must have at least five (5) different designs in your set. (This means you cannot make five copies of the same cookie design.)
3. Challenge yourself and use as many different vintage-creating techniques as you can! (Although, no specific number of different techniques is required. You are also not bound to use certain techniques if you don't think they apply to the era or vintage theme you are trying to convey.)
4. Your design must be completely original, and not a copy of any other artist's design. (In my eyes, the more original the entry, the better!)
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 November 5, 2017 at 5 pm central.
- Because these challenges are ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #25" 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 November 5, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (November 11, 2017). The next challenge will be announced about a week 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 or send me a Cookie Connection private message.
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.