At the start of this challenge, I asked you to take the traditional technique of brush embroidery and turn it into something completely new and unexpected. Admittedly, I wasn't sure how much could be done beyond the traditional ruffles, flowers, and beach scenes that we commonly see, but you managed to come up with designs and techniques that were as unique and creative as they were original, proving that the potential for brush embroidery is limited only by your imaginations!
I love how you experimented with new ideas, stepped out of your comfort zones, and genuinely embraced the spirit of the challenge. You also gave me and my fellow Cookie Connection contributors much to consider when selecting which entries to spotlight.
But before we get to our spotlighted entries, I would like to remind you of our fabulous prize for this challenge. One winner, who was chosen entirely at random from among all entrants, will receive a $100 gift certificate to Country Kitchen SweetArt (CKSA), donated by Cookie Connection host @Julia M. Usher. CKSA is one of Julia's favorite online shops.
And the randomly drawn winner of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #40 is . . . @The Sophistibaker! Patricia's entry was this stunning three-dimensional peacock.
3-D Peacock by The Sophistibaker
Looking at this entry, one can't help but notice how colorful and elaborately detailed it is. Patricia incorporated multiple brush embroidery transfers, including a curved body and train that were then assembled to create a three-dimensional effect. This effort, in turn, brought a wonderful sense of realism and beauty deserving of this majestic bird. CONGRATULATIONS, Patricia! I know you will make good use of your Country Kitchen SweetArt gift certificate!
And now, here are our spotlighted artists for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #40. In no particular order . . .
Betta Fish by KyraNo detail was overlooked with this entry, starting with the cookies, which are scale-shaped, no less, and flooded with a solid dark icing to keep the focus on the colorful betta fish. The brush embroidery technique that Kyra uses perfectly depicts the betta's flowing fins in so many ways. I love how her well-defined brush strokes mimic the lines of actual fins. What is also striking is the way that each color is so masterfully layered and blended. By combining blended layering with a purposeful direction to each brush stroke, Kyra really imparted a sense of movement to her piece. One can't help but imagine this fish gracefully swimming through the water.
Dragon by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.Using a sheer layer of brush embroidery for the background was not only a brilliant idea, but also set the tone for the whole design. I particularly like how Ryoko used a relatively thick consistency icing for some of her brush embroidery, which gave her dragon's scales the perfect amount of coarseness and texture. What also impressed me was how involved the process was. Ryoko's step-by-step mini-tutorial includes using different brushes applied with different brush stroke lengths and at different angles. It also involves layering three tones of grey icing to create depth and dimension. Ryoko has shown us that brush embroidery needn't always be soft and delicate to make an impact!
Japan by Elke Hoelzle
"There is so much texture in this cookie," observed one of my fellow contributors, adding, "I especially love the mountain; the negative space created by the brush embroidery strokes really gives the impression of a craggy surface." Another thing that stands out with this entry are the long brush strokes, emphasizing the grandeur of the mountain and water, juxtaposed with the short brush strokes, depicting the delicate, pink blossoms of the cherry trees. This entry is a great example of how brush embroidery can be used to create a sense of scale.
Brush Embroidery House by ZeenaBrush embroidery is generally reserved for softer elements such as flowers and ruffles, but Zeena has shown us that brush embroidery can also be used just as effectively for more rigid elements, such as the architectural features of this house. One of the features of note is the sharp, staggered lines of the brick courses, which contrast so nicely against the soft vertical lines of the roof. I also like that the window treatment adds the perfect amount of whimsy while giving a nod to brush embroidery's softer side.
Brush Embroidery Yorkie Cookie by sylviawilson
Before I get into anything about brush embroidery, let me just say that those puppy dog eyes have got to be the cutest ones I have ever seen on a cookie! Adorableness aside, this entry is another great example of how icing consistency, technique, and layering come together so perfectly to illustrate the shaggy hair of this tiny Yorkie. Sylvia did an amazing job of expertly layering and blending the colors to make the hair look just like the real thing. As my fellow contributor said, "It's not easy to recreate a specific breed of dog, but she did it! I love the way Sylvia used color and the direction of the strokes to create the texture." And it's done so well that all we notice is a cute little dog and not brushed icing.
Little Red Purse by LisaFUsing brush embroidery to recreate the embossed look of leather on this purse was completely unexpected, and it took some creative thinking. If you take a look at the actual purse in Lisa's comments to her entry, you will notice that the leather is, overall, a smooth and flat surface - a sharp contrast to her brush embroidery, which is quite thick and textured. Yet despite these differences, Lisa managed to recreate a pattern that is instantly recognizable as embossed leather. This entry is a great example of brush embroidery's versatility.
Magical Swan Cookie by MANUELA CANTÙOne can't help but notice the amount of movement in this entry. Manuela achieved this energy by using different consistencies for her icing, as well as different brush embroidery techniques applied with both round and angled brushes. I love how Manuela built upon these techniques by adding a mixture of rich colors and tones, topped with white icing, which so wonderfully depicts the swan splashing about the water.
It's Always Winter Somewhere by PUDING FARMOne contributor observed how Timea beautifully created the look of the hat, scarf, and mittens by applying short strokes that add texture and dimension to the chunky knit, and by lengthening and thinning the icing for the fringe at the end of the scarf. The girl's tousled and windblown hair is also expertly rendered using randomly brushed two-tone icing. There can be many reasons why an entry stands out. What makes this entry special is how Timea managed to capture life and movement in her brush embroidery - it is almost as if we are standing right there next to the girl.
Koi Fish by Annelise (Le bois meslé)At first glance, these koi fish look surprisingly three-dimensional, which is impressive considering there are just two brush embroidery techniques used for the fins and the scales. Annelise explains the process for achieving this look best: "All brush embroidery colors contrast purposefully with the underlying flood icing to add to the sense of depth. Fish scales were added on the bodies using thick red and orange piping icing and a firm, almost dry, paint brush. Three colors were used successively to give dimension to the fish." Annelise masterfully shows us how brush embroidery can be combined with color to create a heightened sense of realism.
Summer Hat by Kanch JForget ruffles, flowers, and beach scenes; straw hats are the new brush embroidery - at least when it comes to Kanchana's summer hat. There are a lot of things that make this entry noteworthy. To start, everything on this cookie incorporates some form of brush embroidery. I particularly like the textured butterfly and the flowers, which were creatively made with royal icing transfers. I also love how Kanchana referred to several tutorials from other Cookie Connection members when creating her hat, and, in return, provided us with her own mini-tutorial. But what stands out most about this entry is the accuracy of the texture in the straw hat. Kanchana's techniques, her brush strokes, and the consistency of the icing are flawless. This beautifully designed cookie could easily be mistaken for the real thing!
That completes the list of spotlighted artists for this challenge. In conclusion, I want to say how impressed I am with the amount of thought and effort that everyone put into their entries. You came up with so many creative ideas that really made this challenge a success. Please be sure to check out the whole clip set to see all of the brush embroidery designs, and the many creative ways that this technique can be used. Thank you to everyone who participated, liked, and commented on the entries. Make sure to look for our next challenge, which will post on or about July 19, 2020.
Christine Dutcher's journey as a cookier began in early 2013 when an online search led her to the amazing world of cookie decorating. After spending countless hours learning all that she could, Christine decorated her first set of cookies in October 2013. In 2016, she decided that she would begin to focus on perfecting her skills, challenging herself each time to create more detailed and progressively complex pieces of cookie art. In 2019, Christine became one of the very first sugar artists from around the world to be named as an "Honourary PME Five Star Sugar Artist" by Knightsbridge PME. You can learn more about Christine's work here on Cookie Connection, and by following her Facebook and Instagram pages.
Photo credit: Christine Dutcher
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Dutcher 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.