As summer turns to fall (or winter to spring for those of you Down Under), you can definitely feel that change is in the air. Change was also all over Cookie Connection these past several weeks, in the form of swarms of butterflies that had magically transformed into elephants, and pacifiers, and skydivers, and masks. Change was also apparent in the high number of first-time challenge participants. So, yes, change was definitely in the air around here, and you all embraced it with real verve!
Before I get to the winner of our prize and the spotlighted artists, I would just like to use this platform to express my sincerest sympathy for those of you who have been personally, or through family members and friends, affected by all of the natural disasters of the past few weeks - from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to the earthquake in Mexico. I was shocked by the extent of the devastation and human tragedy that came with the events, but also heartened by the overwhelming outpouring of support from countless people as they pitched in to make some truly horrible situations bearable. I have seen countless cookie-related retailers offering to donate percentages of their sales to disaster relief funds, fellow cookiers banding together to replace the supplies lost by fellow cookiers in the storms, and cookiers auctioning cookies to raise funds to help family, friends, strangers, and charities. You are a pretty special group, you cookie people, and these "cookie connections" we have are for real. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Hear! Hear! I second these words of gratitude!]
Now, back to the business at hand . . . awarding a prize to one of our challenge participants! As always, we chose one winner, randomly from among all of the entrants. That lucky winner will receive an amazing grab bag of items, including worldwide shipping, generously donated by Cookie Connection owner and founder, our very own Julia M. Usher. This grab bag is truly a treasure trove for cookie repurposers, as it includes over 20 cookie cutters, including three very special copper ones. Not only that, Julia has tossed in two surprise five-piece stencil sets from her Prettier PlaquesTM line and a mold for making cookie, fondant, or modeling chocolate garnishes! Total estimated value, well over $150 USD, but we'll just call it priceless!
And the winner of the randomly drawn prize for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #24 is . . . Tarryn Meiring of @Tarryn Meiring! Congratulations, Tarryn! Not only did Tarryn have three entries in this latest challenge (the more times you enter, the better your chance to win the prize), but I believe this was also the first challenge that she entered. Win-win-win! Our judges especially liked this entry:
Vintage Multimedia Cookies by Love Cookies
I really like how Tarryn made three completely different cookies, but tied them all together with her color scheme and mehndi patterns. I also like how she curved the one flower petal to suit the butterfly shape, basically fitting a five-petal flower onto a four-point shape. Well done, Tarryn! We will look forward to many more challenge entries from you in the future.
And now, for the remaining spotlighted entries, presented in no particular order . . .
African Safari by Kim DamonIn this challenge, many people morphed their butterflies into other animals, but @Kim Damon was one of the first challenge entrants to do this. I love how Kim chose her animal groupings to fit the shape - one elephant fits perfectly, but then it took two lions and three giraffes to fill the same shape and space. Not only did Kim do a fabulous job of utilizing every possible millimeter of the given butterfly shapes, but she also created some stunningly realistic, incredibly textured wildlife.
Masquerade by sweets decoration Tink
When I first saw this set posted, I had no idea it was even a challenge entry! The mask is so perfectly suited to the butterfly shape that I didn't even recognize my own butterfly cutter! I also love how the masquerade theme carries across all three cookies, and how perfectly executed these cookies are.
Patterns of Good Luck! by D&S
OK, so I have to admit, I was rather smitten by that very lovely feathered bird and how its wings spread and curve, but that bias aside, I definitely appreciate how very well these intricate 1,000-year-old Japanese designs fit into my simple little butterfly shape. Additionally, I really love this color scheme, and how all of the cookies fit together as a set so well.
Swans, Baby Carriage, and a Gooty by swissophie
Each one of these three cookies is a little work of art in its own right. The spider blows my mind, both in how it fits the shape, but also in the mind-boggling level of detail and the number of techniques used. I encourage everyone to check out the comments to this entry to see close-up pictures of that spider and a description of how it was done (not by magic, surprisingly). But the other two cookies are equally impressive - from the delicate curves of the swans to the elegant pram perfectly engineered to fill the rotated butterfly shape. All around, this was a masterful entry!
A Girl's Best Friend by GinkgoWerkstattOur judges just love this entry by first-time challenge entrant @GinkgoWerkstatt. All of the designs are so original and captivating, like they belong in a fairytale. We especially adore that little guy in the center, and as one judge put it, "It's not a butterfly cutter after all; clearly it's a troll cutter."
Butterfly Cutter Flip Cookies by Delorse
With this entry, Delorse has proved that she truly has a beautiful bow up her sleeve for every occasion! Seriously, that bow looks so real, with its delicate shading and piped details, I swear I could untie it. We also love the darling frog and elephant in this set. I especially like how the frog could have filled the entire cookie because the shape is a perfect match, but Delorse chose to make the frog slightly smaller and set it off with the white background, which really makes it pop.
Butterflies Turned into Baby Cookie Set by Sweethart Baking Experiment
This super cute, baby-themed entry, by yet another first-time challenge entrant, was a standout. I love how carefully planned all of these designs are and how they fit the given butterfly shape so well. Bonus points here for creating a cohesive set along a single theme, which while not a requirement of the challenge, definitely increased the degree of difficulty.
My Dad by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.
One of three entries to Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #24 by Ryoko, this was our judges' favorite. Ryoko always does a delightful job of telling a story with her challenge entries, and this set stays true to form. This cookie tryptich tells the story of a dad, but not just any dad, the dad of the girl that Ryoko has used as a subject in several prior challenge entries. As for the actual cookies, I ADORE that cookie with the sailboat with its almost mathematical balance across the butterfly shape (the sail on one side versus the boat and sailor on the other), and the texture of the waves. I am also impressed by how the dad's foot in the lower left cookie even fits the little bit of the butterfly "butt" that sticks out, and that the parents are both leaning out to fit into the butterfly's wings.
Butterfly Expansion by Cschoeb
I think this is a really wonderful set of cookies by yet another first-time challenge participant. It is plainly evident to me and the judges that @Cschoeb spent a lot of time planning these designs, and it shows in how very well the designs fill the original butterfly shape. I quite like the little angel in this set, and would LOVE to see an entire chorus of these darlings, in different colors . . . maybe as a Christmas set? *hint, hint*
And with that, Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #24 is a wrap. Thank you to everyone who participated, whether it was by submitting entries or liking and making encouraging comments. The amount of support you guys give to your fellow cookie artists never ceases to amaze me.
Last, but not least, I would like to give a shout-out to the unusually high number of first-time challenge participants that we had in this challenge. Many are new to Cookie Connection as well, so if you see future posts from these people, please give them a second look and show some support, or maybe even say hello and welcome! I hope I am not missing anyone (and please let me know if I am), but by my review of the entries, the first-timers were: @Biljana Kovacevic, @talia, @GinkgoWerkstatt, @Tarryn Meiring, @Cschoeb, @morganbell, @Sweethart Baking Experiment, and @Aurinko. It can be a little intimidating to put your work out there for scrutiny by so many others, but I hope these challenges provide people with inspiration and opportunity in a supportive, non-competitive environment. I hope the first-timers listed above become second-timers, and third-timers! And for those of you who have wanted to try a challenge, but have felt a bit shy or intimidated, I strongly encourage you to just do it! You have nothing to lose, and you may even win a spectacular prize!
Our next Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge will post on or about September 24, 2017, so be on the lookout!
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.