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Debut Post: Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #1- Inspiration Board

[EDITOR'S NOTE: If you didn't see my recent forum post about changes to our team of contributors, let me quickly catch you up! Karen Anderson is leaving the helm of her How DID You Do That? column to pursue a new business in dog rescue. (Go, Karen! We will miss you!) Aymee VanDyke is on a leave of absence until the fall for health reasons. (Get well soon, Aymee!) And . . . last but not least . . .


I am over-the-moon excited to announce this new monthly column, hosted by the supremely creative Rebecca Weld, aka The Cookie Architect:


New Banner for Rebecca


If you've been on this site for even a few days, I'm sure you're already well acquainted with Rebecca's breathtaking cookie work. (It's hard to miss!) But she won't be pushing her own cookie limits in this column (she does enough of that on her own time); instead, she'll be daring you to do more! Read on. Rebecca will fill you in on all of the details below! Have fun! ~JMU]



Welcome to my new blog feature on Cookie Connection - Practice Bakes Perfect!


I'll be your host, The Cookie Architect.


Every month, I'll be presenting you with a new way to challenge yourself. Whether it be by giving you an inspiration board, presenting a technique to try, or just asking you to do something you've never done, I'm going to try to challenge you to build your cookie artistry.


Now, the best part about this is that there will be prizes, but this is NOT a contest! By submitting your cookies or set of cookies, you will be eligible to win a great prize from Julia's stash, and maybe, if you all participate, occasionally the prize will be cookies! In addition, the Cookie Connection contributors team will be shining a Saturday Spotlight on a few of the projects that catch our eye at the end of each challenge, giving you the opportunity to get some additional exposure for your cookie work.


For our first challenge, I've put together an inspiration board. The board itself is on Pinterest; you can find it here. In choosing the theme, I went topical - Mothers' Day! But in typical Cookie Architect fashion, I took it in a little bit of a different direction, inspired by this picture of my mother and me.



This picture harkens back to when my mom was just a young lady with her first baby (that's me on the right!) in the seventies. She was crafty and sewed her own clothes, so crewel wall hangings and embroidered cowboy shirts abounded. I went searching for things that reminded me of our early photo albums, and put together a few images. Hopefully you will embrace the funky vibe and stretch yourself to incorporate some of this style into a cookie or cookie set to share with us all.


I should note that for this challenge, the emphasis is on inspiration! You'll see that the board has a number of copyrighted images, and art and crafts by artists who sell their work on Etsy or in galleries. As is often the case, we do not have permission to duplicate these images, but taken together, they establish a vibe, a color palette, an era, and lots of patterns and style. I hope you will find any number of jumping-off places for a cookie project, be it for Mothers' Day or just for fun.


To enter:

  • Please post an image of your cookie (or cookie set/project) on the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than end of day on May 31, 2014 (12 midnight eastern). The clip set will be closed to further entries at that time.
  • Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put the number of the challenge in your title, and in a tag, so we can tell them apart from month to month. As noted above, this is challenge #1.
  • You can enter more than once, but please post only one clip of each distinct entry/cookie. Multiple clips of the same entry/cookie are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.

Once the challenge closes on May 31, I expect it will take about a week for me and the contributors team to organize our thoughts into a wrap-up Saturday Spotlight and to randomly draw the winner. I'll be sure to keep you posted about our timing!


And a final note, as curators and contributors, the Cookie Connection team won't be participating in these challenges, but that doesn't mean that I won't occasionally be making cookies to illustrate a challenge, or as the prize! And I really would love for the challenges to spark conversation and learning. If you have a question, or if you need help getting started or just want to run an idea by me or the group, please comment below. I love to troubleshoot, brainstorm, and talk technique, so please don't be shy!


Oh, I think this will be fun!! Happy cookie-ing!

The Cookie Architect




[EDITOR'S NOTE: Straight from Genoa, Italy, this month's random-draw winner will receive this charming embroidered apron. I thought the mixture of textiles was fitting with this challenge! ~ JMU]





Rebecca Weld came to cookie decorating from gingerbread house making. As a "real" architect, busy business owner, and mom of two small kids, Rebecca discovered that gingerbread houses had a way of getting out of hand, and that cookie baking offered her a more manageable artistic outlet. Always eager to be a part of the cookie conversation, Rebecca maintains an active Facebook page as The Cookie Architect, as well as Pinterest and Instagram presences. She makes cookies to inspire herself and others, to feed those needs that art fills in all artists: expression, sharing, stretching yourself. 


Photo credit: Rebecca Weld


Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a monthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Rebecca Weld 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 Rebecca's past Cookie Connection posts here.


Images (3)
  • Practice Bakes Perfect Banner: Hosted by The Cookie Architect; image from Ultimate Cookies by Julia M Usher, photographer Steve Adams
  • Rebecca's Mom and Rebecca: Photo Courtesy of The Cookie Architect
  • Apron Prize: Straight from Genoa, Italy!

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Comments (26)

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Originally Posted by Cathy Eberhardt:

Where does a newbie start???

Cathy- If I was just starting out- I'd pick out one element that seems manageable- the flower motif? The patterns? some colors? and see if that inspires anything.  Sometimes it helps to have something that you are making- Mother's Day cookies, a present for a friend or a thank you cookie set- something that you can then apply the colors or motif to.  If you just want to make a cookie for the challenge alone, it is really what your heart desires. Start sketching, or go through your cutters and pick out a few! Then look at them and the board together- is there any overlap that appeals- you know, that flower with this cutter, that sort of thing.

Originally Posted by Cindi:

I love this! I am a beginner but if I am not shown how you experts get ideas, I'll always be a beginner. I will participate with the disclaimer:  "Just trying". EEK...just looked at the page of ideas...beautiful, but this is going to be  hard for me. Let the thinking begin.


See my comment to Cathy above on getting started- and feel free to reach out as you begin to try and make the leap to bounce off ideas!  Definitely just try!!!

Last edited by RebeccArchitect
Originally Posted by Mily:

Can we entry in the next month or only if you entry all from the start?


Not sure I understand your question . . . each month will be a new challenge. So you can enter any month or as many months as you want, but the rules/inspiration will change each month. Does that answer your question?

Originally Posted by Fernwood Cookie:

I know challenge #1 is not entirely done until next weekend with the winner announced- but- when do we get to see challenge #2? You know my brain takes forever to wrap around a concept! This is fun!

Challenge #2 will be announced right after we announce the winners of Challenge #1, on 6/7, 6/8 or 6/9 depending on work and site load.