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Chat with Arty McGoo aka Elizabeth Adams

Hi, Liz! So great to have you here today, especially as I know you're probably still unwinding from CookieCon.
So great to chat! I can NEVER get enough cookie talk
Tee hee! Me too!
Before we get started, just a few housekeeping notes for newbies to our chats: questions are answered in the order received, but they will not post to the public/viewable area of the chat until Liz reads and answers them. We'll work through questions that were logged in advance first; then start working on questions asked live during the chat. That said, please be patient and do not re-post the same question. It may take some time to answer your question, depending on where it sits in the queue. But I will personally make sure every question gets answered before we're through! Ready??
Also, please ask just one question at a time. It's easier/quicker for the guest to answer that way, and easier for those reading the transcript later to follow the flow. THANKS!
Hello! It's such an honor to get to post a question for you. I am so amazed by your painting ability and the cookies that you create. I'm traveling, so I can't participate in the live chat. Thank you in advance for answering my questions. Do you use vodka, extract or water to thin your colors?  Can you taste the vodka or extract once it dries?
Kvue: Thank you so much! I always use water to paint with. While I will use fresh color when needed, I prefer to let my food coloring dry on the palette. Then, using a wet paintbrush, I take color onto my brush as needed just like painting with watercolors. I don't really dilute the whole well of color.
As always I like to know your thought process in your design work: How do you decide on colors, theme, direction? What do you that is special to make your designs unique? Thanks for the opportunity to ask these questions and for your answers.
SusieQ: I wish I was more of a planner! My process... I like to let ideas marinate. The event usually dictates the theme and then I focus on what emotions I want to evoke. Sometimes I will collect a couple of pictures or quotes that fit the theme to guide me. My whole process revolves around a feeling. Bright and cheery? Sweet and melancholy? I base all my design decisions {colors, textures, images, etc} based on communicating a feeling. To make designs unique: I am not scared to try new things. Every set is an experiment and I have fun with it, and I think it shows.
It does show!
Hi Julia, and Arty/Elizabeth
Hi, Christy! Welcome!
Hi Chrisy!
What was the newest and more innovative decorating idea you learned at CookieCon?
Margolynn: After Myriam's class I am so inspired to use more royal icing transfers in my designs. I ALWAYS have leftover icing, and transfers are such a great way to add dimension and interest. It takes a little planning ahead, but will save time while decorating. I like that. I'm also super excited about the Notta Cookie! It is a cookie shape made out of plastic to practice on. I think it will be great for classes!
BTW - I JUST got my shipment of Notta Cookies from Karen and Mike. I ordered about a dozen for my next class. Yay!
Great idea. I've heard they are super stain resistant too. very cool
I am having a hard time getting my royal icing the right consistency. Do you have any helpful hints, other than practice? I mix my icing  and think I have it at the right consistency, put it in my bag or bottle and come to find out, it is too thick. I have watched so many tutorials, my head spins. There is the 5 second, the 10 second, and the 20 second. I absolutely love decorating cookies! I wish all of you would tuck me under your wings and teach me everything there is to know about cookie decorating! Thank you for your time. Thank you both for all of the information you share with us! Chrisy
Hi Chrisy! Consistency is the most important thing and really makes the difference between a frustrating decorating session and a fabulous one. I have the opposite problem and tend to over-thin, so I will switch on my ceiling fan to even things out. I would say be very consistent with your ingredients. I like to weigh mine so I never ask myself "Did I put in too much powdered sugar?" And really count out that frosting. I like mine between 10 - 12 seconds, but get to know what you like and how it feels and looks so you can reproduce it every time.
Do you ever plan on writing a book?
Loretta my sweet southerner I don't plan anything. I am the worst at thinking ahead! But I can't deny imagining a lovely coffee table book loaded with pictures. That would be so rewarding!
Can I be in your family?  Liz, you are such a dynamic personality in the Cookie World. In everyday life are you the same or on the quiet/shy side?
Tricia, the adoption papers have already been signed and your bedroom is all set up! ha ha! You are so sweet. In my house, I am ridiculous and get up to all sorts of shenanigans with my kids and Mr. John. In everyday life around "normal" people, I do tend to be quieter. I used to be painfully shy, and that side can come out with strangers. Coming from a family of 8, I think I am more comfortable being among a herd of relatives. I must see the cookie community as family, because I am not shy or nervous around cookiers.
Hello Julia and Elizabeth, Can you give us more information about notta cookies?
While Liz is typing (we are now onto the LIVE QUESTIONS, BTW), I can find the link that I just posted to Notta Cookie on Cookie Connection.
It looks like a cookie in it's coloring and thickness. It's a circle and you can airbrush it, you can flood it. I actually saw royal icing transfers taken off of it and they can be used on a real cookie. It was fabulous!
Yeah, it's basically a reusable plastic cookie, link to more explanation and to purchase here:
Mr. John said you're taking your classes on the road.  When will you be posting your schedule?
Mary Mary quite contrary... I am finalizing my new website and it will have a calendar on it with upcoming classes.
While she's typing, we're now open for live questions! Keep 'em coming. It's a rare moment to have Liz captive for an hour.
Do you cut out your cookies individually to the idea you are working on or do you start with the shape f the cookie cuter and think of what else you can do with it?
I AM contrary! :-)  Woooo Whoooo!
Good question Diane. I am bad with cutter vision, so I will typically pick some non-specific shapes {plaque, circle, etc} and maybe one specific one that I KNOW what I will do with it. The rest I like to leave open for inspiration.
You ARE Mary! ... She calls me names
Recently moved. Having the hardest time drying icing. Had a fan on them. (No ceiling fan thou). Have the dehumidifier on. I'm thinking I should get a heater fan???? Help
Ugh Michelle! That is frustrating! Those things are all great. I've only decorated in humidity once and I hated being so patient I would try a heater fan and/or dehydrator?
Sabrina etrea - I just received an incomplete question from you. Can you please re-enter it? Thanks!
Okay, while she's re-entering and others are gathering the nerve to pepper you with questions . . .
Don't be scared
I am going to ask a couple related to CookieCon, especially for the benefit of those not there.
I don't bite... hard
What was your favorite part of the CookieCon experience?
Say meeting me!!!
Mary . . .
Sorry.  (Mary hangs head)
Teasing, I hope you realize!
Of course!
So many things! but the best is meeting so many people who share this passion. The energy and positive vibes were circulating that place like crazy. You can't help but fall in love with everyone and be excited. Including meeting Mary
On a more serious note . . .
Thank you miss mcgoo.   Does the dehydrator dry out the cookie?
I have never used a dehydrator, but many have great results with it.
Can I interject?
Yes, please
I think it's great for setting top-coats to prevent cratering and a subtle sheen . . .
But . . . I do think cookies can be left in there too long.
I've had icing completely sheet off cookies when over-dried.
With the success of Cookie Con, do you think there will be plans in the future to expand it?  For example to other locations.
I think she's typing . . .
I think it would be great to have it other locations, but I'm not sure. Mike and Karen load so many things to the venue, and their distance to SLC is doable for them. I'm not sure if flying all their supplies in is very practical at this point. How about a COOKIE CRUISE!?
Thank you both. Important !!!!! Any rumblings of next years cookie con?
I know Mike and Karen are already brainstorming on how to make it even better. Hard to imagine!
Similar question - but I'll add that Mike and Karen have both said slightly different things about the timing. Karen said next year, and Mike was a little more vague.
Talking of cratering, what do you do to avoid them?
We'll let them recover
Right - good idea!
so many variable Gabi! I think cream of tartar in my royal recipe helps. Not making your icing too thin, the humidity... I think the best way to avoid craters is to REALLY get to know your frosting and what effects it.
Oops sorry, it's difficult for me write fast english
Hi darling Sabrina! <3
No apologies, Sabrina. You do not have to type fast. Take your time.
Your question will only post once you've hit "POST".
Do you have a special back ground that helps you in your design process? Thanks
I haven't taken any art or design classes Susie, but I've always NEEDED to draw and create. I think drawing an doodling helps foster the design process.
Sometimes I get what looks like oil stains in my dark flood colors.  Everyone seems to have a different idea as to why.  What do you ladies to to prevent this from happening?
You go first, Liz. Then I'll add if I have anything different to say.
That sounds like butter bleed Cookie Barn. Have you played with your recipe? Some people wait after baking to decorate to prevent it, but I think it's more about the recipe than anything. Julia?
I start decorating about 10 minutes after the cookies come out of the oven?
I don't get these so-called "grease" spots, but perhaps that's because I substitute some shortening for the butter in my recipe.
I also do this because shortening has a higher melting point than butter, so my cookies spread less.
That's said, the guys at TruColor don't think the spots are from butter bleed at all . . .
I've made several cookie recipes and never had butter bleed. I think the royal recipe has a lot to do with that too.
they think they come from the cookie acting as a sponge and drawing water out of the coloring at different rates. But that's a story for another day.
Hello Julia and Elizabeth! I've seen you posted the photos of the cookie cutters your father made. They look very sturdy and nice. What does your father use to attach the ends of the metal strip? I use the double sided tape when I make my own cutters but they tend to come off easily.
Thank you
Agree with your last point, Liz. The faster that icing dries, the less likely anything is to leach into it, if that's what's happening.
Hi Hiromi, my dad makes those cutters out of tin cans so they are already attached into a continuous circle. He then shapes it from the top of the can, so it also has a nice turned edge for your hand. He's kind of a genius!
I'll say. I'll have to go take a look at those.
I missed Mr. John's break out class on copyright/design issues.  What did I miss?  How do you feel about others emulating your designs?
Ahh, good question.
What's the etiquette?
Wow, I've never thought about that. Thank you Elizabeth!
You missed a great discussion Mary. He talked about what you are risking when you make cookies of copyrighted material. He also went into how we need to treat each other in our cookie community. If you are using someone else's designs: ask... give credit. It doesn't take anything away from us to say "thanks!"
Can you summarize the risks he mentioned related to using copyrighted material?
I am honored when I inspire someone!
He started his breakout saying he will save you thousands and thousands of dollars Some companies have lawyers looking for infringement. They are serious and they will fine you.
Some will warn and others will send you a bill.
I've known several Etsy shops closed because of unauthorized selling of character cookies. Be warned, everyone!
But would they if you don't charge for cookies ?
Related question from Mary. I'll post it now.
To make this clear....I can make cookies for friends and family at no charge, but when I charge I may get a bill.  Is that right?
If you post it on your business page, it is implied and if you post it on a blog where you earn money... it gets very grey and I know several people who posted cookies they did not make money on, get a cease and desist letter and/or a fine.
In my opinion, and it's just mine, I think it's a lot more fun to come up with something that's an expression of me . . .
If it is a character or copyrighted image, keep it on your personal page... this is a note to self as well. I need to sift through my page!
. . . as opposed to a replica of something else. You know?
Completely Julia!
Good to know!  Thank you.
Though, I know the demand is there for character cookies, so . . .
. . . people want to produce them naturally.
Is it helpful to watermark what you post if it is original to you?
It's a hard decision and everyone needs to weigh it out for themselves.
You don't watermark, do you, Liz?
Susie, I think it's a great idea to watermark. If it goes viral sometimes there is no way to find the originator. I watermark when I remember... which is never
I'm just starting to paint on cookies instead of coloring with food pens. Any helpful advice on this?
Get a good detail brush. Frayed brushes are so frustrating and make a world of difference Rita.
Oh, re: your "It's a hard decision comment": I thought it was in reference to watermarking. Looks like it was in reference to copying licensed characters.
My stance on the latter is to avoid it.
It's all about getting comfortable with that paintbrush in your hand. A paintbrush will give you the finest lines ever that not even the finest markers can achieve.
Do either of you have personal assistants or kitchen fairies that help you produce?
My kitchen fairy's name is Mr. John.
Short answer: no.
Hi and sorry for joining late - I've scanned the chat so hope I don't duplicate.  I just listened to the Music to Cookie By CD yesterday.  You guys are so clever.  LOVE IT.  The question, which follows this topic I'm reading re copyright follows ... if your music is used, say in the background of a youtube video (with your permission of course) would the youtube music ears grab the background music as copyrighted and silence the video?  I love it and find myself humming along.  Sorry if this is a convoluted question.
He always offers to help me flood, but... we've learned the hard way that cookies aren't his thing.
I'm learning that. If I can master it, I'll never go back to pens
I think YouTube does find copyrighted music and I'm not sure about silencing the track Debbie.
My husband stays as far away from my cookies as possible. I think he's had it with my obsession!
Which brushes do you recommend?
Gabi, I get my brushes from the artist section of Michael
Any specific brand that you'd suggest?
Michael's. They are sold individually and I get a variety of what is on sale. They run about $2.00 - $4.00 each and last a long time if you treat them right.
Ciao carissima Liz , hai un metodo per creare effetto lucido? Hello dear Liz, you have a method to create shiny effect?
Hi, Sabrina!
Ciao Sabrina! I have used a couple of methods. I have melted isomalt, I have melted sugar, I have brushed on equal parts corn syrup and alcohol and that is my favorite. It dries hard and stays shiny.
Back to painting . . . My fave is What a Wonderful World. I could watch that over and over. And I have.
I think you have something similar in Italy Sabrina to corn syrup? I forget what it is called.
Have you tried any of the TruColor paints for painting?  I bought some of the awesomely brilliant colors for airbrush use and wondered if you could paint with that lovely color.  If you haven't, can you think of any pros and cons?
Awww, thank you so much Michelle! I had so much fun making that. I did it really fast and realized after, I didn't need to because I sped it up. So silly!
Debbi, I bought some TruColor as well and I can't wait to try it out! I couldn't believe the coverage with the airbrush and the concentrated color. I am definitely going to try painting with it. I think the only con would be that it is perishable, but that is also the pro, because it's natural and that is always the best option.
I'm still very new to all this and feel like I'm always behind with the next holiday.  How far in advance do you do your planning?
Me = worst planner ever. I am maybe a week ahead of the next holiday if I'm lucky. Worst person ever!
Unsolicited shout-out to TruColor. Help them reach their next funding goal, so they can give us healthier colors: http://cookieconnection.juliau...kickstarter-campaign
Do you use anything other than water to clean your brushes?
Nope. Water does all the work for cleaning brushes.
Si sciroppo di glucosio ma rimane un po' appiccicoso!you Jiulia glucose syrup but remains a bit sticky ... with isomalt is more difficult to define the details
More questions, folks?
Maybe try more alcohol mixed into the glucose Sabrina? I would experiment with that.
We've got about 8 more minutes. Time to slip in a couple more.
Since sugar is a preservative of sorts, what's the longest time you'd keep a wrapped cookie?
Hi Julia, Hi Liz
Hi, Carrie! We've got about 7 more minutes on the chat. Do you have a question?
I think life is too short to eat stale cookies Rita. I wouldn't eat one after 2 weeks, but I've had people eat them months after I've given them and said they taste great!
Hi Carrie!
For your you use regular gel food color or air-brush?
I prefer using Wilton concentrated paste Wendy. I love Americolor for coloring frosting, but for painting, the texture of Wilton is more paste-like and will dry better then the "gel" of Americolor.
Just added a few more minutes so Liz can answer the two or so questions remaining in her pipeline.
Is there a trick to cleaning the airbrush of pearl sheen color.  I seem to always have some left in the little cup and I can't figure out how to get it clean.
That one likes to hang on doesn't it Debbi? I have a little brush that I use and I recently saw there is airbrush cleaner at Orson Gygi.
In regards to the copyright issues . . .
what about when they sell the character cookie cutters?
OH - never thought of checking Gygi!  Thanks :-)
Character Cookie Cutters {say that 5 times fast!} are for home and personal use only. It is usually written in the teeniest tiniest font available on the box.
Ok, I think I heard on a interview that you don't sell your cookies? So how do you come up with your designs? What is your thought process?
SusieQ's question will be our last, unless someone has one more burning one.
This was a great chat.  Thank you.
Thank you both! This is my first "live" chat and I have enjoyed it! Thank you for answering my questions.
I sell cookies locally and usually make for friends and family which means I often have a lot of creative control which is nice. I let ideas marinate for a bit, mostly focusing on the feeling I want to convey. What colors match the feeling, what textures? It's always about communicating a feeling.
I just want to say how much I enjoy these chats. Thanks for all of the effort!!!
Thanks, all. These chats are a huge pleasure for me.
Enjoyed it y'all ! Thanks!
Thank you thank you thank you!!! So fun!
Thank you both great info I learn something new every time.
Thanks McGoo and Julia! ;-) xoxo Have a wonderful weekend!
I learn so much about such wonderful people - like Liz! Thanks so much for joining us today!
Thank you so much for setting up this chat event. It was very fun!
Thanks again! Signing off 'til next time! XO
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