[EDITOR'S NOTE: I know, I know . . . I should have called this the Sunday Spotlight! My apologies to Christine for the delayed posting of her recap, which was intended for Saturday. Unforeseen flight delays and lack of sleep got in the way of my usual weekend Spotlight schedule. Even so, I think you'll find it worth the wait! ~JMU]
I LOVE challenges that create what I call a "circle of learning." Originally, my intent with this challenge was to introduce more people to all of the wonderful tutorials available (for free!) here on Cookie Connection, and thereby provide people with new cookie decorating techniques and skills. However, through the course of the challenge, it became very apparent to me that the learning and transfer of cookie knowledge did not just go one way. Not only were the tutorials instructive to the challenge entrants who used them, but the feedback provided by the entrants to the tutorial writers was also invaluable to those authors - and, thus, the full "circle of learning."
Now, before we get to all of our incredible spotlighted artists for this challenge, let's talk about the amazing prize we have in store for one of them! As always, one lucky entrant was selected at random from among all of the challenge entrants. The winner of this challenge will receive a whopping $100 gift certificate to Country Kitchen SweetArt, generously donated by @Autumn Carpenter (who also happens to be our featured June live-chatter)! Thank you, Autumn!
The winner of the prize for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #28 is . . . @GinkgoWerkstatt! Congratulations! GinkgoWerkstatt submitted not one, but two entries for this challenge. And, as you know, the more entries you make, the greater your chance to win!
Our judges enjoyed both of GinkgoWerkstatt's entries, and I really liked that she tried her hand at two very different tutorials. In her first entry, she used a tutorial by @Dolce Sentire and added a few of her own creative touches to create this stunning rose flanked by ginkgo leaves:
Mermaid Box by GinkgoWerkstatt
Well done, @GinkgoWerkstatt, on both of your entries, and congratulations again on your prize! Let's now move on to our other spotlighted artists, who will be presented in no particular order.
Gift Tag by DraganaOur first spotlighted artist, @Dragana, contributed not one, not two, but THREE separate entries to Challenge #28! (Be sure to check out her other two entries: Alphabet and Pencils and Daisy.) In this entry, based on a tutorial by @Dolce Sentire, Dragana reached out of her comfort zone, and tried her hand at brush embroidery, a technique she had previously struggled with. Our judges were also impressed by how Dragana created her own polka dot stencil for the background of this cookie. She did an outstanding job of replicating the project with the materials she had on hand. (P.S. I also love how the photo for this entry was staged!)
I Wish for Breakfast in Bed by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.Using this tutorial by @Aproned Artist was a bold choice by Ryoko. It is definitely one of the more complex tutorials available on Cookie Connection, thanks to all of the different components of this cookie and techniques used. Samantha, the Aproned Artist herself, commented that she beamed with pride when she saw how masterfully Ryoko had followed her tutorial!
Mixed Media Daisy by La Shay by Ferda Ozcan
The inspiration for Ferda's entry was a tutorial by Sugar Pearls Cakes & Bakes. As one of our judges put it: "I think the most important takeaway from [this] project was that the materials or instructions listed in tutorials are generally very flexible. Every tutorial should be adapted to the materials you have on hand. And even if the materials don't behave in exactly the same way [as in the tutorial], the results are just as fabulous." In this case, Ferda used stamps that she already had available rather than the exact same ones used in the original tutorial, but the overall feel of the finished project stayed true to the original.
Chocolate and Isomalt Lantern Cookie by Love Cookies
This entry just blows me away! It is based on a brilliant cookie lantern tutorial by @Manu. In this entry, Love Cookies, used the isomalt techniques shared in Manu's original tutorial, yet created a lantern of her own unique design. You must see Love Cookies' detailed description and photos of her process (in the comments to this entry) to fully appreciate the intricate work that went into creating this cookie lantern. I also want to point out that all four sides of this lantern are similarly decorated! I can only imagine the amount of work and time that went into creating this amazing entry.
Wisteria and Butterflies by Annelise (Le bois meslé)
I have always loved this tutorial by @Lucy (Honeycat Cookies). Maybe it is because of the gorgeous wisteria that grew all over my garden when I lived in England. Or, more likely, I am just in awe of anyone who can do so much intricate wet-on-wet work before the cookie icing starts to crust. In any event, I think Annelise did a fabulous job of reproducing this tutorial, and shared with us a wonderful description of her process. The final result is just stunning!
3-D Stenciled Basket Cookie by Adria
When I saw this entry, I immediately recognized it as a project based on a tutorial by @Julia M. Usher. This project was a pretty ambitious one for a self-professed beginner, but I think that the combination of an excellent tutorial and an excellent student worked brilliantly! It's clear that Adria picked up some serious cookie skills - from 3-D assembly to stenciling to marbling - through this single tutorial!
Will You Marry Me? by Cookieland
This entry is a testament to the high level of detail and excellence of @Aproned Artist's tutorials. I say this because Cookieland managed to replicate this project using nothing but the pictures contained in the original tutorial as guidance! This project was definitely a successful adventure in experiential learning for Cookieland (though I wonder if some of her trials could have been avoided if she had read some of the excellent instructions included with the tutorial!). Still, I can't argue with the fact that this entry is absolutely stunning.
Summer Mug by Olivera Vlah
I really like how Olivera took a Valentine's-themed tutorial by @Manu, and changed up the color scheme to make it more suitable to summertime. In fact, this entry reminds me of sitting on the patio in the Greek Islands overlooking the sea! This entry is a great example of how you can take any tutorial and adapt it to a different season or holiday, because, really, tutorials teach transferable skills more than anything else.
Rose - Wish It Was Spring by Liesl
When I think of @Dolce Sentire, I think of delicate, realistic roses. Liesl ambitiously tried Dolce's rose tutorial and definitely found success! I love the texture of the leaves on this cookie and the beautiful rose petals. Liesl really captured the essence of a Dolce rose, and even learned a lesson or two about how to avoid cratering problems along the way!
Snaps to all those who found the time in this crazy-busy cookie season (Mother's Day, teacher appreciations, Memorial Day, graduations . . .) to enter the challenge! I was so fired up to "enter" myself, and then life (50th anniversary, 25th anniversary, birthday, graduation, birthday) intervened, and I just couldn't make it work. HOWEVER, I am still very tempted to use this Made by Manu tutorial for a Father's Day gift. Maybe you will be tempted too?!
Remember, when you use a tutorial for your future cookie projects, please complete that "circle of learning" by providing constructive feedback to the tutorial authors. Let them know what you loved, what you struggled with, and any questions or issues that arose during your project. This feedback will help all of us become better teachers, students, and cookie artists!
Stay tuned for our next Practice Bakes Perfect challenge, which will post on or about June 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.