By a show of hands, how many of you have been spending lots of extra time here on Cookie Connection as a respite from all of the crazy news out there these days? [EDITOR'S NOTE: Me!]
Certainly, for me, the most calming thing I can do (next to actually decorating cookies) is to sit in front of my computer ogling the amazing handiwork of lots of talented cookie artists! And this week, especially, I was happy to have the distraction of sorting through all of the fabulous entries from Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #22 - Wafer Paper. So, put down your Twitter and join me, as we walk through lots of cookie awesomeness.
Let's begin by talking about the unbelievable prize for this challenge! The one and only @Evelindecora has very generously donated four (4) sheets of completely original, handpainted, and signed wafer paper, specially created as a prize for this Practice Bakes Perfect challenge. Take another look at the gorgeousness of this literally priceless prize:
This prize will be awarded to one lucky challenge entrant who has been chosen, at random, from among all of the entrants. The prize also includes, as always, free worldwide shipping!
And the randomly chosen winner of these incredible works of art by Evelindecora is . . . @carouselselsel! The more times you enter the challenge, the better your chance to win, and carouselselsel submitted THREE entries to this challenge! Of these entries, this one was the favorite of our judges:
White Wafer Flowers by carouselselsel
Our judges liked the stark simplicity of this entry, as well as the monochrome presentation and photograph staging. "Less is more" is the phrase that kept coming up with this entry, and I agree. With the white-on-white, you can really appreciate the many delicate layers of wafer paper that comprise the flowers. Congratulations, and well done, carouselselsel! Your prize will be shipped directly from Italy by Evelindecora to you in Bulgaria. ENJOY.
Without further ado, let's look at our other spotlighted entries (in no particular order).
Butterflies Take Two by Nikki Carriere
A couple of things struck me about this entry. First, I really liked how the wafer paper wings of the largest butterfly echo the colors and patterns of the royal icing base below. That detail, coupled with the perfect angles of the wings, gives the butterflies such incredible dimension and motion. And second, I love how Nikki used this challenge as a vehicle to try different techniques and a medium she was previously unfamiliar with - that's what these challenges are all about!
Story of "The Grateful Crane" (Tsuru No Ongaeshi, Japanese Title) by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.
This entry impressed all of our judges. Said one, "[Ryoko] doesn’t only use wafer paper, she lets the material tell us a story. The amazing hairdo of the old man, the delicate swan feathers, the paper screens . . . just everything about this set is so original and draws me deeper into the story and bewitch[es] me . . . I find the different wafer paper techniques extremely well executed. A real pleasure to take a second, third, and fourth look!" I would also add that I am doubly impressed by the origami crane, which I could not make from regular origami paper, let alone wafer paper! To learn the story of "The Grateful Crane" and many more details about the specific techniques that Ryoko used, please check out her description and photos in the comments to this entry here.
Good Day, Little Red Riding Hood by Fernwood Cookie
I love this deep, dark, mysterious take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale. This was one of those entries where the wafer paper played a critical, but supporting role to the theme of the set. We thought it was brilliant how Fernwood layered cutout wafer paper forms over airbrushed backgrounds to create seriously excellent expressions of depth, especially in the forest scene and mushroom cookies. This entry was just a well conceived and deftly executed set of cookies.
Hair and Feathers by Kim Damon
"Organic and lifelike," "incredible painting and composition," "The woman . . . seems to talk through her eyes." These are some of the many apt descriptions from our judges in reference to this incredible set by Kim Damon. Additionally, we loved how Kim so effortlessly incorporated her wafer paper elements into the larger composition, and how she used so many different techniques so harmoniously. Perhaps this entry represents the culmination of skills acquired through participation in so many past Practice Bakes Perfect challenges, Kim?!
Dreams Come True by Alison Friedli
The Practice Bakes Perfect "Patience Award" for Challenge #22 goes to Alison Friedli! I simply cannot even imagine how much patience it took for Alison to quill all of those tiny bits of wafer paper. I thought this set was really elegant and clever for its use of black-tinted dough, which so perfectly sets off the white wafer paper quilling. But the most clever thing about this set is how Alison softened the wafer paper by placing it in an airtight container with a cut apple (a tip learned from her mom, who did the same to soften gingerbread)! This tip is invaluable because, as anyone who attempted this challenge knows, trying to bend dry wafer paper can often result in a cracked, crumbly mess!
Mujeres Que No Fueron Tapa by Sil Quiroga *Homemade Cookies by Sil*
Based on an original work of collage art by Lala Pasquinelli (used by permission), this entry by Sil Quiroga stood out for its creative use of teeny tiny bits of wafer paper to create a collage effect similar to the original artwork. You can see in the process photos (in the comments that accompany this entry) that it was no small feat to accurately place all of those tiny wafer paper triangles! We judges also loved the symbolism/irony of Sil cutting up a piece of wafer paper printed with the image of a licensed character to create this new work of cookie art!
Steampunk Set by Andrea Costoya
We just loved the overall composition of this steampunk set by Andrea Costoya. The lacy wafer paper "frame" in the center cookie, and the layering of that frame over the stamped base, really stood out to the judges. And we were impressed by the many different wafer paper techniques that Andrea tried with this set, as shown in all of the little details: roses, butterflies, feathers, ruffles, and hair, all highlighted in gold for extra pop!
Wafer Paper Garden by Kim Damon
In this second highlighted entry by Kim Damon (congratulations, Kim!), I was totally crushing on that center, 3-D garden cookie. I love the really delicate petals of the tall sunflower, and how they are perfectly bent and shaped. I also like the shades of green in the grass and how their shapes complement the flower so well. Finally, the little toadstools and lady bugs, while not made of wafer paper, are a really delightful touch in this set.
Israel Independence Day by Noaa
I am a sucker for doodles, and the hand-doodled wafer paper sheets that Noaa created for use in this entry are gorgeous! I love the contrast between the serene all-white doves with their wonderfully delicate feathers and that very busy, doodly blue wafer paper. Finally, I am very impressed by those tiny, fringy wafer paper flowers on the heart in the foreground of the picture - I am still not quite sure how Noaa managed them!
And with that, we wrap up Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #22. But, before we go, I would encourage everyone to answer our Practice Bakes Perfect Feedback Survey, which asks questions about how we can improve these challenges and increase participation. These challenges are not meant to be contests, but rather vehicles for improving your cookie skills and base knowledge. So, in that spirit, we would love to get your input. Please answer our short survey TODAY!
Our next Practice Bakes Perfect challenge will post in approximately one week, on or about May 28, 2017, so stay tuned!
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.