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Saturday Spotlight: Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #44 Recap


As a cookier who is somewhat partial to royal icing stringwork, I must admit that I was really looking forward to seeing what type of designs our Cookie Connection members would come up with for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #44. And after seeing all of the entries, I have to say that I was very impressed! You came up with some extremely clever, creative, and, quite frankly, amazing stringwork cookie art, ranging from the traditional to the unexpected!

It was great to hear that many people were trying stringwork for the first time, and I loved reading your comments. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences, as well as your stories of broken strings, collapsed pieces, and cookie do-overs. Through it all, you persevered to produce beautiful and delicate pieces of stringwork cookie art. I also liked hearing about the sense of accomplishment that you felt at the end, and how much you learned through the process. That's what these challenges are all about, after all!

And speaking of learning, let me remind you about our AMAZING prize! One lucky winner was chosen entirely at random from among all entrants to receive a one-hour mentoring video-call ($100 value) with our very own Cookie Connection founder @Julia M. Usher on Superpeer!

Superpeer Launch Annoucement

is a booking platform where you can schedule one-on-one video calls with the world’s best experts, influencers, and professionals. And that means Julia! Julia's sessions aren't classes. They are rare opportunities for you to connect with her to explore a focused topic (or two) in much greater detail than you could on email or via text. Anyone, not just our challenge winner, can book a session at any time; just be sure to very specifically identify the topic(s) you want to address with Julia when you book. That way, she can gather resources or prep materials that might be helpful to share during the call. THANK YOU, Julia, for generously donating this fantastic prize!

And the randomly drawn winner of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #44 is . . . @Gwen Safriet! CONGRATULATIONS, Gwen! You will have an entire hour to spend learning from world-renowned sugar artist Julia M. Usher! [EDITOR'S NOTE: Woo hoo! I can't wait to meet you, Gwen. I'll be in touch via email with a coupon code and booking instructions! Stay tuned! ~JMU]

Chinese Lanterns by Gwen Safriet
Chinese Lanterns by Gwen Safriet

Gwen's entry was this vibrant set of stringwork cookies inspired by the lanterns used to celebrate Chinese New Year. I love how the top layer of vertical strings really emphasizes the depth and dimension of the lanterns. And I am in absolute awe of how Gwen piped the delicate stringwork that hangs below the lanterns!

And now, here are our spotlighted artists for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #44. In no particular order . . .

Stringwork Cookies by ZeenaStringwork Cookies
I love how this stunning array of cookies incorporates Australian, oriental, and contemporary stringwork. Zeena's piping skills are really on point in this set, as can be seen in the graceful curves of the oriental stringwork, which are piped above, below, and away from each cookie to perfection. I also like how the lines on the geometric cookie crisscross each other in such a way that it almost looks as if they are floating above the cookie. The entire set and its presentation really highlight the beauty and delicacy of fine stringwork. As one judge commented, "I'm so impressed with all of the different techniques that Zeena used to create this set. The cookies look almost ethereal with an understated elegance that really draws you in for a closer look."

Stringwork-Framed Cookie by Susana MattanoStringwork Framed Cookie
This entry is one filled with many fantastic lines all piped with perfect-consistency icing. The grid on the top cookie, the delicate leaves, the design on the base, and even the scalloped shape of the cookie all complement the stringwork-framed border beautifully. Susana's use of soft colors and gold "patina" creates a sense of elegance. This entry is a great example of how many elements can come together to create a very exquisite design.

Oriental Stringwork by LisaFOriental Stringwork
This entry was one of three submitted by Lisa, all of which were favored by our judges. What most stands out about this entry is how Lisa was able to create a design that really captures the delicate curves of oriental stringwork. The layered design of the cookies serves as the perfect backdrop to the gracefully overlapping stringwork. (I'm still not quite sure how Lisa assembled the whole thing while keeping the strings intact. Do tell!) I also like how this entry pays wonderful homage to the classic oriental stringwork cake. The time and effort that Lisa put into this entry really show through in its overall presentation!

Flowers by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.FlowersRyoko did an absolutely fantastic job of combining pattern and color, while also layering her stringwork to create an unexpected floral design. As one judge observed, "I like that each cookie has a different color that can be seen through the stringwork. I loved the mini tutorial and the study behind her project, and how she came up with the flower design." Layering multiple stringwork lines to create a geometric pattern is not an easy thing to do. The consistency of the icing must be just right - too thick and the design will become bulky, too thin and the strings will sag. In this case, Ryoko got everything just right - not once but seven times!

Stringwork Maniquí by Yazz RossStringwork Maniquie
I love how Yazz cleverly incorporated oriental stringwork into her mannequin design. One judge commented, "So simple yet beautiful, and perfect execution. It looks like the icing was just of the perfect consistency. I love how, as a fashion designer, she was able to express her creativity through a different medium (cookies and stringwork)." Also of note is the attention to detail, such as the intricately piped bustle and wings, which perfectly complement the delicate lines of the stringwork. Piping flawless stringwork is a difficult task, but Yazmin pulled it off like a master!

Valentine Cookie by Lisa RValentine Cookie
Just like traditional stringwork, Lisa's entry contains no superfluous details. By using all white icing accentuated by a bold red backdrop, Lisa immediately put the focus on the stringwork design. I love how Lisa created a three-dimensional heart using piped lines, and then elevated it high above the cookie with Australian stringwork. Her icing consistency and stringwork are spot on, and the entire design has such a wonderful light and ethereal sense about it.

Cable Bridge by Kanch JCable BridgeUsing stringwork to depict the cables of a bridge is an idea nothing short of brilliant. As one judge commented, "I love that Kanchana took such an innovative approach to the challenge by weaving stringwork into a realistic landscape. There's something magical about the juxtaposition of the fragile icing strings and the depiction of something as strong and sturdy as a bridge." Another judge added, "It takes a lot of imagination to determine which ropes have to appear behind and which in front of a bridge." Kanchana masterfully piped and layered her stringwork to create a design that perfectly illustrates perspective, depth, and dimension. Her entry shows both a creative and a modern approach to stringwork.

Star Bright by LisaFStar BrightThis entry is another fantastic example of how stringwork can be used to achieve a non-traditional design. At first glance, it may not be easy to figure out the technique, but as one judge observed, "The construction looks complicated and intimidating, but Lisa's simple explanation of the technique makes it seem much more manageable." Another thing that stands out is that Lisa's technique of using stacked lines as "bridges" can be used to create many other three-dimensional designs beyond the star pattern shown here. The possibilities really are endless!

Practice Australian String Art by Wendy CubicPractice Australian String ArtThis piece was a popular pick amongst the judges. One judge commented "I appreciate how Wendy's choice of bold and contrasting colors brings more of a modern aesthetic to a centuries-old technique. The cookie looks as though it is defying gravity, sitting atop such delicately piped lines." Another added, "Beautiful color combination and wonderful execution. The loops around the top are just perfect and all of the same size. I loved the idea of the dome. Such a talent for being a first attempt. Incredible." Wendy did a magnificent job of harmonizing Australian, oriental, and contemporary stringwork onto a single cookie. The overall color and design, along with the perfect icing consistency and flawless piping, are what make this entry a standout!

Easter Egg by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.Easter EggThis piece is the third entry from Ryoko. (Her second entry is posted above, and you can see her first entry here.) Looking at her entries and reading her comments, one gets an excellent glimpse into Ryoko's thought process as she creates progressively complex designs and discusses what she learned along the way. Ryoko's continued dedication to this technique is what makes the accomplishment of her three-dimensional stringwork egg all the more noteworthy. Our judges gushed, "Simply fantastic!" Another commented, "Ryoko's egg is so transparent and delicate! It reminds me of the pyramid outside of the Louvre. The construction of the egg - how she camouflaged the joining of the two halves - looks so intentional and seamless. And I love how the little eggs bordering the edge of the cookie bring a touch of whimsy." Ryoko's stringwork design is well thought out, complex, and unique, and it is the perfect testament of what can be achieved when one continues to practice what's been learned!

And that concludes another Practice Bakes Perfect challenge. I encourage you to check out the whole clip set to see all of the intricately piped stringwork cookies that our Cookie Connection members created. They truly are beautiful and delicate works of art. Thank you to everyone who participated, liked, and commented on the entries. Make sure to look for our next challenge, which will post on or about March 14, 2021.

ChristineCROPPEDChristine Dutcher's journey as a cookier began in early 2013 when an online search led her to the amazing world of cookie decorating. After spending countless hours learning all that she could, Christine decorated her first set of cookies in October 2013. In 2016, she decided that she would begin to focus on perfecting her skills, challenging herself each time to create more detailed and progressively complex pieces of cookie art. In 2019, Christine became one of the very first sugar artists from around the world to be named as an "Honourary PME Five Star Sugar Artist" by Knightsbridge PME. You can learn more about Christine's work here on Cookie Connection, and by following her Facebook and Instagram pages.

Photo credit: Christine Dutcher

Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Dutcher 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.


Images (13)
  • Challenge #44 Recap Banner: Photo by Steve Adams; Cookie and Graphic Design by Julia M. Usher
  • Julia's Superpeer Announcement: Photo by Mattea Linae; Graphic Design by Julia M. Usher
  • Chinese Lanterns: Cookies and Photo by Gwen Safriet
  • Stringwork Cookies: Cookies and Photo by Zeena
  • Stringwork-Framed Cookie: Cookie and Photo by Susana Mattano
  • Oriental Stringwork: Cookie and Photo by LisaF
  • Flowers: Cookies and Photo by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.
  • Stringwork Maniquí: Cookie and Photos by Yazz Ross
  • Valentine Cookie: Cookie and Photo by Lisa R
  • Cable Bridge: Cookie and Photo by Kanch J
  • Star Bright: Cookie and Photo by LisaF
  • Practice Australian String Art: Cookie and Photo by Wendy Cubic
  • Easter Egg: Cookie and Photos by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.

Sweet Prodigy

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Comments (24)

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Impressive job, everyone - and with such a challenging challenge no less! I will be pushing out this post to social media and sending the honorees their "I was featured" badges later tonight or early tomorrow, as I have a dinner date with hubs! (He is actually shouting at me right now to join him! ) Likewise, @Gwen Safriet, I will hook you up with your coupon code (via email) around the same time! Congrats again to our honorees and all entrants on their fabulous work. And thanks to @Sweet Prodigy for the prodigious effort that goes into creating each of these challenges each month! So impressive and appreciated. 'Til later!

Congratulations Gwen!!! You must be so happy!!👏👏👏

Congratulations also Zeena, Susana, Lisa F (for two!!), Ryoko (also for two!!) Lisa R, Kanchana and Wendy. And all the rest of the amazing entries. Each one was stunning and a delight to see.♥️

😮😍 This is my reaction!  What a great weekend, thank you.
Congratulations to @Gwen Safriet her lanterns remind me of Chinese festivals and China towns.  (I miss them)    What great entries by creative artists!  They are so delicate, elegant and unique.

Thanks to this challenge, I have learned tons of things and that is the most precious things about challenges.

Whenever looking at Christine's stringwork @Sweet Prodigy I just wonder how and actually I had asked questions to her how I could make straight lines and this and that before she started writing Challenges for us.   But I confess....  lazy me didn't practice enough (or at all..😱) even she explained to me preciously and kindly.   I bought 2 classes on Craftsy regarding stringwork long time ago, I saw them but didn't watch carefully until this Challenge.  I thought about what "original" means, I learned mandala art a little, drew lots of lines until my favorite colored pencils got shorter, looked at construction field and saw how they use rebar to make strong buildings.  Finally, I managed to pipe looking straight lines!  Thank you, Christine for this challenge.

Easter and easter eggs are not really familiar to Japanese but I am very interested in egg hunting that I wish I do once in my life.  Looking at my egg, My mother told me that's "globe" so I said "....."  , my sister told me "fencing mask" and we had a good laugh.

Last edited by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.

Congratulations Gwen!!! You must be so happy!!👏👏👏

Congratulations also Zeena, Susana, Lisa F (for two!!), Ryoko (also for two!!) Lisa R, Kanchana and Wendy. And all the rest of the amazing entries. Each one was stunning and a delight to see.♥️

Thank you, Heather.  I am very honored and enjoying great weekend! with this happy recap ❤️

Congratulations Gwen!!! You must be so happy!!👏👏👏

Congratulations also Zeena, Susana, Lisa F (for two!!), Ryoko (also for two!!) Lisa R, Kanchana and Wendy. And all the rest of the amazing entries. Each one was stunning and a delight to see.♥️

Thank you dear Heather @Heather Bruce Sosa for always cheering us with positive comments.

Wow! I am so honored to be included here. There were so many amazing entries. This really was a challenge and I learned so much- including how much I admire sugar artists like Christine @Sweet Prodigy.  To answer the question of the piping for the oriental Stringwork...I propped the « top «  of each layer on a circular cookie cutter. Piped that. Then whenI flipped it, the attached cookie pedestal gave me enough height to pipe the bottom. I’m not sure if that explanation makes sense or not. Apologies - I’m trying to get better on my picture taking!

Thank you so much Julia and Christine. This was such a wonderful challenge and Learned so much. ❤️❤️🍪🥂😁🎉🍪

STUNNINGLY beautiful work everyone!!! I just love the variety of stringwork shown by these talented artists. Congratulations to each of you! You have definitely earned this spotlight honor. A special congratulations to Gwen @Gwen Safriet for winning the prize of time with Julia. WOW!!! That's such a wonderful gift. I know you will enjoy each minute with Julia ❤️❤️❤️ Hugs...

Congratulations to Gwen, all spotlighted artists in this recap and to all of us who have taken part in this wonderful and challenging challenge (as I tried it for the first time).

Thank you so much Christine and Julia, looking forward to discovering the next one👏❤️

Congrats to all!! Thanks a lot to Julia, the Judges and to everyone who makes possible to share passion of decorating, kowledge  and funny experiences with so kind and creative people!! 

Especial congrats to Gwen @Gwen Safriet for winning Julia's wonderful gift.❤ Also double congrats to Ryoko @Ryoko ~Cookie Ave., Lisa @LisaF and Congratulations to all featured @Zeena, @Susana Mattano, @Yazz Ross, @Lisa R, @Wendy Cubic and participated. 👏👏👏 Beautiful work everyone... ❤😍

I'm beyond happy and hornered to see my last minute entry here. It was really educative and fascinating challenge. Thank so much for Julia @Julia M. Usher and Christine @Sweet Prodigy and all judges. ❤
Curious to see what the next challenge going be.🙂

Last edited by Kanch J

Congratulations Gwen!!! You must be so happy!!👏👏👏

Congratulations also Zeena, Susana, Lisa F (for two!!), Ryoko (also for two!!) Lisa R, Kanchana and Wendy. And all the rest of the amazing entries. Each one was stunning and a delight to see.♥️

Thank you dear friend Heather. @Heather Bruce Sosa 😘❤

Congratulations Gwen @Gwen Safriet and all the entrants into this challenge.  This was my first challenge and I had a great time and it really pushed my boundries (which is a good thing) thank you for letting me play!

@Lisa R posted:

Congratulations Gwen @Gwen Safriet and all the entrants into this challenge.  This was my first challenge and I had a great time and it really pushed my boundries (which is a good thing) thank you for letting me play!

Oh my gosh! Yay!! I’m so excited to meet you too Julia. I’m beyond excited about this prize!! 🥰 and what a fun challenge. There were so many amazing entries. I’ve learned so much from this amazing community.

Oh my gosh! Yay!! I’m so excited to meet you too Julia. I’m beyond excited about this prize!! 🥰 and what a fun challenge. There were so many amazing entries. I’ve learned so much from this amazing community.


Congrats to all artists who took part in the challenge with their works of art !! Every work is unique!!
Especially congrats to the top ten: @Zeena   @Susana Mattano   @LisaF   @Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.   @Yazz Ross   @Lisa R   @Kanch J   @Wendy Cubic.

Congrats to the beautiful prize dear Gwen @Gwen Safriet

Thank you, dear Gabi! 💕❤