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 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]
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 Zeena
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 Mattano
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.
Flowers by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.Ryoko 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 Ross
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!
Cable Bridge by Kanch JUsing 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 LisaFThis 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 CubicThis 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.This 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.
Christine 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.