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Watch-Learn-Create Challenge #51: Shaping & Covering 3-D Cookies with Julia M. Usher

 

** UPDATE, 9/11/2022: DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 10/4 **

Hi, everyone! I am so happy and honored to be taking over the Cookie Connection challenges from Christine Dutcher (aka @Sweet Prodigy) who has inspired us for the past 11 challenges in the Practice Bakes Perfect edition. Thank you, @Julia M. Usher, for giving me the opportunity to host these challenges in the new Watch-Learn-Create format, which involves a video and a guest who will be available to answer questions as you develop your entries. And, most of all, thank you for being the first guest! (Note: For the motivation behind this recent format change, see my earlier post. In short, we hope to make the challenges more interactive and approachable for all with the addition of video, access to cookie experts, and the streamlining of rules.)

Topic

Oftentimes we look for inspiration for projects in objects or nature, or in our everyday surroundings, but their shapes become a limitation when we try to recreate them in cookies and icing. @Julia M. Usher’s 3-D cookie constructions have always fascinated me, and especially her signature contoured cookies, because they always seem to work around these shape limitations. That’s why I asked Julia to demo her shaping and covering techniques. As you may know, Part 1 of Julia's demo aired live on Facebook on July 20 at 11 am CDT. However, Facebook terminated the recording abruptly about halfway through (!!). But no worries, Julia and I re-recorded the entire second half, and you'll find both recordings, Parts 1 and 2, embedded below. (The second half was not live-streamed, so video/audio quality will be a bit better in it.) Do watch both parts to be sure you capture Julia's entire presentation!

When you watch her demo, you will learn how to create four different types of 3-D cookies and how to cover her favorite type (contoured cookies) in nine different ways. I am sure that, after watching it, you will have more tools for translating your real-life inspiration into 3-D cookie designs, and that even more ideas will come your way. Let’s watch! But first . . .

Important: Julia's videos were recorded exclusively for Cookie Connection for the sole purpose of helping Cookie Connection members develop their skills and apply those skills to this challenge and future projects of their own design. These video recordings, and the content contained therein, cannot be used as material for cookie classes, for purposes of financial gain, or for any other purpose than stated above without obtaining written permission from Julia in advance. Thank you!

Part 1: Formulating Dough for 3-D Baking and Shaping Methods

Part 2: Methods of Covering Contoured Cookies and Challenge Rules

How fun and interesting it was watching  Julia demoing 3-D cookies! Now you have so much content and material to be inspired to design, create, and participate in this challenge. As an additional tool to help you with this challenge, please check out Julia's resource list. It includes the key tools that she used in her demo and often uses every day when shaping and covering 3-D cookies. (Alternatively, you can download the pdf in "Attachments" at the end of this post.) Note: Don't worry! You needn't use or get all (or any) of these tools to complete this challenge. Common household objects can often be used for shaping 3-D cookies and prepping them for covering. In fact, Julia mentions a number of readily available alternatives in her videos. This list is provided simply as additional information that you may use if you choose.

Timing

Because the designs you could create by mixing and matching Julia's techniques are nearly limitless, I thought eight weeks (until September 20) would be enough time for you to explore all of Julia's content and sources - and perhaps even be inspired to participate with more than one entry! Cookiers of all skill levels are encouraged to participate. Remember, the purpose of these challenges is to stretch skills, learn, and try new things . . . you will be surprised to see what you can do, I promise. Cookie Connection challenges were never intended to be a competition among cookiers; instead they are a way to have fun, challenge yourself (not compare), and share your learning experience. That’s why prize winners have always been determined through random drawings.

Prizes

And speaking of the prizes (yes, that's plural), we've got an unusually large number of them this time, just because this first-time Watch-Learn-Create challenge is extra special!

First, Julia is giving away not one, but two of her amazing online tutorials featuring 3-D contoured cookies - a retail value of $120! Below are short previews of these tutorials:

3-D Heart Box Tutorial

3-D Stenciled Ornament Cookie Tutorial

You can also read more about the contents of each tutorial by clicking on the pink links under the videos, or by visiting Julia's brand-new tutorial shop.

As for the other 10 (yes, 10!) prizes, Peter Moeykens, the very generous creator of the Camera Lucida app (for iOS users), is donating 10 of his apps along with an in-app upgrade ($15 worth of software) for a total of $150 in prizes! If you're new to Camera Lucida, it's a very popular app among iOS-cookiers used to project images and to help take piping and painting skills to new levels. Read more about the app and see examples of artistry created with it, including some beautiful cookie art.

Camera Lucida Border

Rules

The rules are simpler than ever - another nice feature of our new challenges!

  1. Watch Julia’s demo (both videos!), get inspired, and challenge yourself to create a brand new 3-D cookie project featuring Julia's favorite cookie type - contoured cookies!
  2. Make anything you like that involves one (1) or more contoured cookie(s) that is (are) covered in at least one (1) way. Julia shared nine (9) covering methods in her video demo. Again, you can use one or more of those methods. And, if you'd like to incorporate any of the other three (3) types of 3-D cookies that Julia mentioned (i.e., molded, embossed, or modeled), you can, however you must have at least one contoured cookie that is a central or focal part of your project. The contoured cookie(s) can be any shape (i.e., cylinder, sphere, egg, heart, etc.), and you can use Julia’s cookie dough or your favorite cookie dough adapted for contoured cookies. As you can see, the restrictions are few, so get creative!
  3. Please share in your entry comments what you learned, any difficulties you encountered and how you overcame them, and any suggestions to help and inspire your fellow cookiers. If English is not your native language and you feel more comfortable using your own language, you can. We will add translations if we can.
  4. Your work must be original and not a copy of someone else’s work/design/art/image in accordance with Cookie Connection site rules and US copyright laws.
  5. Have fun!

To Enter

  • If you have a question for Julia as you are developing your entry, that's great! We encourage questions and learning at every step of the process. Please enter all questions in the comments area under this post, so that everyone can benefit from the Q&A. And please tag @Julia M. Usher so she is sure to see your question and respond in a timely way.
  • Please post an image of your cookie project to the site under the Cookie Connection Challenge clip set no later than September 20, 2022 October 4, 2022 at 5 pm central time.
  • Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put "Watch-Learn-Create Challenge #51" in your photo caption (subtitle field) AND in a tag, so we can tell the challenges apart from month to month. Please use the title field to uniquely name your cookies as you normally would.
  • Please also assign other relevant clip sets and tags to your images, as you normally would. (Don't use just the Cookie Connection Challenge clip set and leave it at that, or your photos won't easily be found with keyword searches.)
  • You can enter more than once, but please post only one clip of each distinct entry. Multiple clips of the same entry are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.

On September 24 October 8 in our weekly Saturday Spotlight, I will reveal the 10 top-trending entries (as determined automatically by our site-trending algorithms*) as well as the 11 randomly drawn prize winners. The next challenge will be announced soon after this challenge has closed. *Note: The site algorithms use members' collective likes, comments, and reactions to each entry to determine our Spotlightees.

During this first challenge, which, again, started today (July 20) and lasts eight weeks, you can ask any question at any time in the comments under this post, and Julia or I will be happy to answer.

We can’t wait to see your creations!

~ Manu (and Julia)

Manuela Pezzopane, affectionately called Manu by her friends and family, is the author of the blog feature Made by Manu, where each month she shares the method behind a magical cookie of her own making. In March 2022, Manu also assumed the role of host of our rebranded and reformatted Cookie Connection Challenges: Watch-Learn-Create Series, which debuted in a virtual video format in July 2022. A fan of everything handmade, Manu professes to have tried every possible hobby. However, it wasn’t until the end of 2014, when an American friend invited her to a Christmas cookie exchange, that she first discovered decorated cookies. In 2015, after watching Julia M. Usher's videos and signing up on Cookie Connection, Manu finally attempted her own designs. Since then, cookie decorating has become Manu’s passion, and her mesmerizing video shorts have earned her a large and loyal following throughout the global cookie community. Manu harks from Rome, Italy, where she currently resides. You can email Manu at manubiscottidecorati@gmail.com, follow her on Facebook and Instagram, or explore her past challenges and large library of Made by Manu tutorials here on Cookie Connection.

Photo credit: Manuela Pezzopane

Attachments

Images (2)
  • Challenge #51 Banner - Extended Deadline!: Cookies and Photos by Julia M. Usher; Graphic Design by Elizabeth Cox
  • Camera Lucida App Preview: Graphic Courtesy of Peter Moeykens, Founder of Camera Lucida
Files (1)

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Comments (33)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

So informative and thorough! Can't wait to see what people make!

I could watch Julia demonstrating cookies for hours, Samantha @Aproned Artist I Endless the design possibilities. Can’t wait to see what people will create!

You two are too sweet! Fortunately, I had prepped enough to allow me to do the re-do immediately, while I was still on somewhat of a roll! I also thank Manu for having the flexibility and willingness to stay with me throughout the entire re-do. Not everyone would!

Julia, you know I would have never doubt of you to quickly set up another demo without a blink, but to see that in person . . . you are a role model.

Last edited by Manu
@Manu posted:

So glad to hear this Lisa @LisaF! We can’t wait to see your creations and how you’ve been inspired. Yes, Julia is incredible. And this demo is such a gift!

You two are too sweet! Fortunately, I had prepped enough to allow me to do the re-do immediately, while I was still on somewhat of a roll! I also thank Manu for having the flexibility and willingness to stay with me throughout the entire re-do. Not everyone would!

@LisaF posted:

I finally had an opportunity to watch the videos. Thank you both so much for all of the time and effort that went into this.  Redoing the demo because of technical difficulties is so incredibly above and beyond. Thank you thank you. I am definitely inspired 🥰🥰❤️🙏🏻

So glad to hear this Lisa @LisaF! We can’t wait to see your creations and how you’ve been inspired. Yes, Julia is incredible. And this demo is such a gift!

I finally had an opportunity to watch the videos. Thank you both so much for all of the time and effort that went into this.  Redoing the demo because of technical difficulties is so incredibly above and beyond. Thank you thank you. I am definitely inspired 🥰🥰❤️🙏🏻

An absolutely amazing and exciting challenge!!! I loved watching the videos. Julia makes everything look so easy but I know it's not. I think the key points are "practice, patience and be gentle with yourself". (Not my strength for sure!)

Thank you so very much for the time you've spent in sharing your skills and knowledge. I'm beyond grateful ❤️❤️❤️

Many congrats Manu! Thank you Julia for this very interesting and rich demo about so many techniques of yours, can’t wait to see all the entries after these incredible videos!

This new format of the Challenges looks absolutely amazing, love it, chapeau!

Awesome and fascinating!!!😍

thank you very much!!!!

I’ve learned a lot!!!!!

i hope I could post my challenge on time and put in practice almost a little of all your knowledge

blessings for sharing

Question: May I use fondant to cover the cookies? @Julia M. Usher

Yes, I actually show fondant-wrapping as one of my covering techniques. I look forward to seeing your entry!

I can't express how much joy it's bringing me to see everyone's immensely creative entries come in. I never thought of making some of the things you all have created, and now I am super inspired to come up with some new ideas! Thank you, everyone, for brightening my life and igniting my enthusiasm. I can't wait to see the entries that have yet to come in! ❤️

I totally agree with you, Julia. So much creativity in every single entry so far, so much sharing and so much inspiration and fuel for new ideas. Thank you for being the first featured guest and for your amazing demo! As I wrote already in a comment to an entry, I was pretty sure that, after watching your demo, everyone would have more tools for translating real-life inspiration into 3-D cookie designs, and that even more ideas will come their way. Each and every entry so far proves that. So happy about this!

Last edited by Julia M. Usher

I can't express how much joy it's bringing me to see everyone's immensely creative entries come in. I never thought of making some of the things you all have created, and now I am super inspired to come up with some new ideas! Thank you, everyone, for brightening my life and igniting my enthusiasm. I can't wait to see the entries that have yet to come in! ❤️

Last edited by Julia M. Usher
@LisaF posted:

I finally had an opportunity to watch the videos. Thank you both so much for all of the time and effort that went into this.  Redoing the demo because of technical difficulties is so incredibly above and beyond. Thank you thank you. I am definitely inspired 🥰🥰❤️🙏🏻

❤️❤️❤️ Like @Manu said, I can't wait to see what you do!

@Manu posted:

Yes, Carol @Cookies Fantastique, super exciting! Practice is key of course and having fun too.
Julia has explained everything in this demo, I could watch on repeat forever.

Me too Manu @Manu!! I have watched Julia's tutorials countless times and these two are super fun to watch ❤️ Hugs...

An absolutely amazing and exciting challenge!!! I loved watching the videos. Julia makes everything look so easy but I know it's not. I think the key points are "practice, patience and be gentle with yourself". (Not my strength for sure!)

Thank you so very much for the time you've spent in sharing your skills and knowledge. I'm beyond grateful ❤️❤️❤️

Yes, Carol @Cookies Fantastique, super exciting! Practice is key of course and having fun too.
Julia has explained everything in this demo, I could watch on repeat forever.

@Manu posted:

Can’t wait to see what you’ll create Gabi!

Oh Manu, it has to get a little colder here before I can bake again! We stew here in Germany and the plants to grow crispy! Nothing for me! I'm more the winter type...
Joking aside, of course I'm really looking forward to it, Manu!!! ❤️  @Manu

WOW!! That sounds like a really big show! What does "sounds" mean, that's one!!! I am already very excited! So great!!

Can’t wait to see what you’ll create Gabi!

Many congrats Manu! Thank you Julia for this very interesting and rich demo about so many techniques of yours, can’t wait to see all the entries after these incredible videos!

This new format of the Challenges looks absolutely amazing, love it, chapeau!

Thank you, Evelin. Julia’s demo was absolutely amazing!

Many congrats Manu! Thank you Julia for this very interesting and rich demo about so many techniques of yours, can’t wait to see all the entries after these incredible videos!

This new format of the Challenges looks absolutely amazing, love it, chapeau!

Thank you! i am quite excited about it too!

I love this new format! You can tell that a lot of thought and time went into this post – it's perfect. There's so much great information to learn from in the videos as well. ❤️

Thank you, Christine, there’s so much content and  sources shared, so much to get inspired from. It was great watch her demonstrating. Can’t wait to see what people will make. 💙

I love this new format! You can tell that a lot of thought and time went into this post – it's perfect. There's so much great information to learn from in the videos as well. ❤️

I can't wait to see what people make as well! Remember: I will be available here to answer any questions you might have along the way! Please be sure to tag me in your comments though, so I see your question(s) quickly. Have fun!

Awesome and fascinating!!!😍

thank you very much!!!!

I’ve learned a lot!!!!!

i hope I could post my challenge on time and put in practice almost a little of all your knowledge

blessings for sharing

I am glad you enjoyed the videos! Manu and I can't wait to see what you create! There's still plenty of time!