It was truly a joy to watch this latest Practice Bakes Perfect challenge unfold! While I wish more people had the time to participate, I think that those who did really embraced the collaborative spirit of this challenge. I was lifted by all of the connections people made and new skills that people learned. And, while I am not sure any actual cookies were swapped, I think that our global cookie swap was a resounding success!
I will get on with presenting our spotlighted artists in a moment, but, first, I would like to discuss the spectacular prize for this challenge, and announce our lucky winner! You may recall that our prize for this challenge is a whopping $100 gift certificate from Global Sugar Art, courtesy of Cookie Connection owner and founder @Julia M. Usher.
And whose name, chosen randomly from among all of the challenge entrants, will be on that gift certificate? Well, it's none other than @Tina at Sugar Wishes! Not only was Tina the winner of our random prize drawing, but she also had one of our judges' favorite entries. PLUS, Tina was the inspiration cookie artist for one of her fellow challenge entrants! Congratulations, Tina! I can't wait to hear about what you buy with your gift certificate, and, more importantly, what cookie gorgeousness you create with it! [EDITOR'S NOTE: And, Tina, because the gift certificate won't do you much good sitting in this blog post , I'll be reaching out to you separately to arrange an e-transmission of it. Stay tuned!]
Bunny in Spring by Tina at Sugar Wishes
Tina created this cookie in the style of her inspiration artist, Marta Torres of @The Cookie Lab - Bolachas decoradas arte. Through multiple interactions with Marta, Tina learned to use various volume/dimensional royal icing techniques (including the use of colored royal icing and petal dusts for shading and dimension) to create this adorable and incredibly detailed cookie. I fully expect to see more of this cookie style from Tina in the future!
Kaleidoscope by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.If any entry embraced the spirit of this challenge, it was this one by @Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.! And yet, Ryoko almost didn't enter this cookie array into the challenge at all, because it did not turn out according to plan. You can read all about the multiple problems Ryoko encountered in trying to create her kaleidoscope cookies in the comments to her entry here. But, suffice it say, her challenges were many, and yet she continued to seek advice from her inspiration cookier, @swissophie, each time things went awry. Then she kept trying and trying again. I LOVED the fact that Ryoko never gave up on her original vision, and while her finished entry did not match what she had in mind (I think it turned out pretty well, actually!), she learned tons along the way, and was not afraid to share her "failures" with us. THAT is what these challenges are all about.
Golden Peacock by Cookie Celebration LLC
Pardon me while I wallow in some serious bird envy here . . . In her entry, Diane of @Cookie Celebration LLC sought to create a cookie that utilized the minutely detailed and layered piping technique of Marta Torres (who was also the inspiration artist for Tina's entry, above). A la Marta, Diane piped her intricate peacock design with colored royal icing and then handpainted many of the very fine details. The in-progress photos provided in the comments to this entry are really worth taking a look at, and show how very labor-intensive this style of cookie is.
Peace, Hope, and Joy Japanese Style by Kim DamonThe inspiration for this beautiful set by @Kim Damon was none other than fellow challenge entrant @Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.! You can read all about the wonderful connection that Kim and Ryoko made in the comments to this entry, but, here, I want to talk about all of the artistic "risks" that Kim took in this entry. Kim tried the wet-on-wet technique, even though she had had little success with it in the past; she made royal icing transfers (instead of her go-to fondant) for the flowers; she even learned how to write Japanese characters! I think this trans-Pacific collaboration turned out beautifully.
Heart Crochet Cookies by mintlemonade (cookie crumbs)
I did a double-take when I first saw this clip posted on Cookie Connection, because the style looked very familiar, and, yet, there was something about it that was not. Of course, I later learned that my confusion was because this is not a set of cookies by inspiration artist @Evelindecora, but rather a set inspired by Evelin! Evelin's style is clearly evident here in the very finely piped crocheted features and borders, and the floral accents. However, as one of our judges put it, the color palette and the deft use of "negative space" on the cookie are pure mintlemonade. I love how extremely well these two artists' styles blend, and I will be looking forward to seeing lots more "crocheting" in mintlemonade's sets in the future!
Stringwork Xmas Tree by carouselselsel
It was immediately apparent to everyone who saw this entry who the inspiration for this array was! The royal icing stringwork of @Sweet Prodigy is unmistakable. Not only did @carouselselsel create some remarkable stringwork of her own in this entry, but she also very cleverly arranged her stringwork cookies to create this delightful Christmas tree. What a great way to showcase her new stringwork skills and really make this entry her own!
Hummingbird by betteFirst off, this is just a gorgeous cookie. But what really stood out to me in this entry was how much FUN Bette said she had making this cookie! In her own words: "As soon as I saw this challenge, I thought about Teri Lewis of @tweets...cookie connection. I have admired her ability to cookie so freely. Her work is so expressive and creative, and honestly just makes me smile. So this was my challenge: to make a cookie and not be afraid to color outside the lines, to experiment with Teri’s chocolate play dough, [and to] paint with luster dust, splatter, gold-emboss, use only white RI, and have fun! I spent a lot of time getting the feel of Teri’s artistry from her Tweets FB page. I got an idea and had fun with it. I then sent a pic to Teri, and we chatted. We actually had the same response to the first cookie . . . I was a bit splatter happy! This cookie is my humble attempt to infuse Teri’s spirit into my cookie making. There is one thing for sure - I had fun letting go!"
Bird on a Twig by Petra Florean
Inspired by challenge entrant, @Tina at Sugar Wishes, Petra sought to emulate Tina's embroidery style to create this delightful little birdie. Although Petra says she learned a lot in the process of creating this cookie, she said she would do a few things differently to make her cookie more closely resemble one of Tina's, such as use a thicker consistency icing and smaller tip, and colored royal icings. However, I do think Petra successfully captured the vintage feel of so many of Tina's embroidery cookies. As one of our judges commented, "I am sure that either my mom or one of my grandmothers had embroidered decorations like [this entry] when I was a small girl."
Yellow Roses and Lace by AnneliseA gift for her mother's 90th birthday, this set uses multiple techniques from @Tunde and @SweetAmbs, perfectly curated by @Annelise (Le bois meslé). I was really floored by the hand-piped lace, and how every single lace cookie is a different design. Also incredible - the fact that Annelise fashioned her own petal tip to pipe those tiny roses because she did not own one!
Spring is Coming by Kathy Andersen
The colors, the patterns, and the textures of these cookies SCREAM, "We were made by Diane of @Cookie Celebration LLC!" And yet, they were not. I think that Kathy perfectly captured Diane's unmistakable style with this entry. And while Kathy was not able to personally meet with Diane in doing her research for this set, she says she would relish the opportunity to do so!
Golden Birthday by GinkgoWerkstatt And last, but not least, I present this lovely needlepoint set by Anne of @GinkgoWerkstatt, inspired by none other than Cookie Connection's own @Julia M. Usher. Anne watched video tutorials by Julia to learn how to pipe grids and create needlepoint patterns. I think the soft color palette even looks Julia-inspired. And can you believe this is Anne's first attempt at cookie needlepoint?! I'd say she's a fast study! [EDITOR'S NOTE: I agree! Great job, Anne!]
And so, with that, we conclude our recap of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #26. I was extremely impressed with how those who entered this challenge took so many legit cookie decorating risks. Some cookies turned out as planned, and some less so, but in all cases, I think those risks paid dividends, and everybody, regardless of outcome, grew as cookiers. Most of all, I loved, loved, LOVED hearing your tales of all the new cookie connections made. Because, really, isn't that what making cookies should be all about?
Our next challenge will post on or about February 10, 2018!
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.