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Live Chat with Angela Nino of The Painted Box

Welcome, Angela! First, congrats on your recent Cookiers' Choice Awards nomination, your success on Periscope, and your gorgeous cookie work, of course! I am looking forward to learning more about you today!
Julia, thank you for inviting me to chat today. I hope I don’t bomb this chat. I do want to say thank you to all my fellow artists for nominating me for this year’s Cookiers’ Choice Awards. It’s an amazing thing to be recognized by the cookie community. I couldn’t imagine not being able to create on a daily basis. Getting positive feedback and love from you guys often leaves me in a state of wonder. It has been fun opening up on Periscope and getting to know a lot of amazing people. Let's get this broadcast started…I mean chat!
OK, I'm ready to roll too! But before we jump into Q&A, 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 Angela 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!
Please also ask just one question at a time - it's easier for our guests (and me) to keep track of questions and for others to follow the dialogue this way. So, let's get started!
To kick us off, I'm going to post a few images of Angela's stunning work. They may trigger some technique questions for you! Here's the first . . .
Painted Birthday Set
Another . . .
Painted Cookies 4
Another . . .
Painted Cookies 1
And, finally (for now), this lovely wafer paper number . . .
Wafer Paper Cookies 1
Ok, we're going to start first with questions logged in advance . . .
There were many!
How did you grow your Periscope following so quickly, despite your nontraditional presentation (i.e non-structured, spontaneous posts, chisme, etc.)? Most people seem to have a "script" and you seem like it's second nature.
BTW, "chisme" is Spanish for "gossip", I believe.
@iscreamforicing I definitely behave differently on Periscope than I would on my other platforms. I run a business so, although many fellow bakers follow me on Facebook or Instagram, I focus my attention to my clients. On Periscope, I am able to focus my attention to my fellow baker/artist/random person. Periscope has been the first real platform I have shared some of my knowledge and I feel I gained a fast following due to that.
Hi, Angela! Your watercolor technique is so innovative, and I feel that style truly belongs to you every time I see it. Why did you decide to (generously) share your technique, and was it hard for you?
Shannon, I think it was a little difficult for me. It’s a big deal to be able to develop a style over time so that your work is instantly recognizable. I felt sharing my process would mean my work would blend in with everyone else. I had worked really hard to do the exact opposite. I thought about it a lot. I argued to myself the pros and cons…a lot. I finally came to the conclusion that if I wanted to grow as an artist I couldn’t hold on to my repetitive style. Sharing would force me to expand my style and the type of art I wanted to create.
How do you deal with picky customer/specific orders while still keeping your distinct style?
@iscreamforicing I set my foot down some time ago that if I wanted to be happy and last in this business, I would have to do it my way. Clients are told that all design decisions are left to me. They are allowed to provide color palette, theme and décor for inspiration. The client has every right to decline and move on to someone that will allow them more control. They are not given a sketch or any indication as to the final look. My clients are always surprised in a very good way.
Hi Angela, my name is Manuela (Manu). I am from Italy. Congrats on your nomination for Cookie Innovator, which was my chance to know about you as I am new to this "cookie world". I like your style and your work (pure art). Something I like very much is the cookie with your signature or the "tpb" initials that can be found in every set. It is something that can't be immediately noticed because that particular cookie seems to be part of the set and naturally blends in with the colors and shapes. I found it while scrolling your stream activity on Julia's web site, while I didn't notice it at first on your FB page. I had fun then looking for it in all the other sets and I am looking for it when I think I recognize your work in a clip posted.
Hello, Manuela and thank you! My "watermark" cookie came about in a funny way. I use to take photos and then use a watermark app to well…add a watermark. It always seemed that the photo looked degraded after applying the watermark, so I found another solution. At first, I pieced together individual letter wood blocks from stamps to form my name “The Painted Box”. I used that in my photos for a while. I had a few extra cookies after painting my very first watercolor boxed set. I just wanted to play and paint more so I did. I want to say I painted a cupcake with my name on it and it matched the set so well that I included it in the photo. I liked that I didn’t have to add a watermark, it was already included in the set. I love making those. I keep them, the client never sees them. (I found a photo)
I think "signing" ones cookies is a great way to reinforce with customers that they are indeed handcrafted works of art . . .
. . . and thus worth prices we have to charge for them.
Many leading cake designers do this, and I think it's a smart customer management strategy!
Just curious about the use of wafer paper. As I said, I am new to cookie decorating (last November) and because of PBP #14/Mixed Media (Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #14), I immediately had the chance to give a try to wafer paper. Your roses are just fabulous. I loved the picture of your Christmas tree decorated with them, posted on FB. I also liked your "Love" set of cookies for February in the calendar "for a cause" with all the other great cookiers (set posted on Cookie Connection). Do you use wafer paper flowers mainly as a decoration for cakes and cookies or it is meant to be part of the cookie and be eaten. What is the feedback of your customer? Do they like the taste? Your cookies are so beautiful that it is almost a pity eat them! (Manu)
Good question!
@Manuela The roses are made with wafer paper and are edible so the client is free to do with them as they please. They could eat the roses or they could save them. I have eaten the paper and for me it tastes like an ice cream cone. My clients have never provided negative feedback in regards to the wafer paper. I like it for its versatility, low cost, weight and my ability to manipulate it to use in many ways.
Hi - there are many edible printers and paper types on the market today, ranging in prices. What would you recommend for a new start-up business?
Dano, I actually do not own an edible printer so, I would be no help to you. Sorry!
Dano - We have a great topic on edible printers in our forums here: http://cookieconnection.juliau...printers-preferences So you may want to check it out. One of the commenters there, James at Topperoo, is an expert on the topic (Topperoo makes edible image software) and has been very generous with help in the past. You might also consider contacting him directly for advice, by sending him a private message on this site or contacting him via Hope this helps!
First of all, thank you for sharing your expertise! Your work is inspiring! My question...when you create your canvas of glaze, do you build/pipe your shapes on top of the base layer or do you create them separately and attach them?
Hi, Sandra! I do both actually! When I build directly on the cookie, I use glaze with a royal icing dam. I also find myself working with royal icing transfers and those are completed then added to the cookie.
Hi Angela, do you remember the very first cookies you ever made and what mediums you used to paint with?
Hi, Linda! The first ever painted cookies I made where a set of Twilight cookies. My daughter had been sick and once she was better I only had 1 day to get them made. I painted my cakes and cupcake toppers often. I had never attempted to paint cookies. Was it possible? Would this save me from having to refund the customer? Yes! I painted my first set using Wilton gels and vodka. Ahh..the olden days. 
Love your work!
@VCOATS, Thanks!
So nice to meet you Angela and thank you for being so gracious with your time. Can't wait to ask you just a few (million) questions!!
Hi, Cookie Celebrations! Bring it on!
Ok, we're moving onto live questions now!
Sounds like Angela is ready, so here comes the first.
I love your work overall but your wafer paper work is incredible. Can you explain how you get the paper to bend and do what you want with it? I've seen people use dampened towels, spray misters, etc. It's still challenging for me!
@cookie celebrations I always use water. I know for some it has been drilled into their minds that wafer and water do not mix! Do not fear water, it does wonders. I use an aqua brush (used for watercolor) to apply the water to my wafer. It gives me better control.
I "LOVE" this set you did (every pun intended), is it actually edible?
The painted box wafer paper
@ cookiecelebrations Aside from the string I used to string the “sequins”, it is all edible. I was going to use floss but I punched the holes to small and I had a deadline to submit the photo. I couldn’t redo. Of course the floss or string are not edible.
Do you use wafer paper that is printed or do you stamp your own and/or paint your own paper get the effect you want?
Hi Angela, congratulations on your nomination!! I LOVE your unique!
@cookiecelebrations I stamp and paint my own paper. I refuse to purchase a printer.
Why do you refuse to purchase a printer?
Thank you, Yoli!
why do you refuse to buy a printer?
Seems Yoli and I both wondered the same thing at the same time!
After Angela answers this one, I'm going to take the next questions a little out of order, since one further down the lists relates to something just talked about.
Julia, I feel more connected to my work when I paint it all by hand. I feel a printer would cause some kind of disconnect for me.
We'll then return to the top of the list and some of Cookie Celebration's questions.
Makes sense!
So can you tell us about your brush with water in it?
So, for those not on the chat in the beginning, Angela said she uses this brush to apply water to her wafer paper.
Angela, do you also have a brand name for the brush? Perhaps I can locate a link as you answer.
I like that you encourage to use what we have. Supplies can get pricey!
Love that you stamp and paint your own paper. Getting printed images is expensive.
I know Julia
Feel free to jump around Julia!!
Hi Angela, my watercolor guru!
You can use any brand water brush. I have some of the one by Tim Holtz
Do you have an artistic background?
you work is so inspirational. Were you an artist prior to a baker?
Posting two questions at once as they are basically the same one . . .
Using what you have is a great way to push yourself to be more creative.
I'm sure purchasing printing supplies could get pricey, but that is true for all supplies.
Thank YOU Julia!
Thank you Julia! Wow, never knew about this!! I love when something new comes my way. That is fabulous!!! Good thing I didn't know about this prior, there would be about two million questions
I don't know what a water brush is? Am I just complicating it and it is just a paint brush used with watercolors typically?
Hi, Lauren!
cookiecelebration I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold chalk in my hand. I also took every art class possible in high school. After that it was just practicing and doing something I loved.
Cookie Celebration, just posted your question about the water brush, as I think the Tim Holtz link answers it. It's filled with water and is used as a precise water delivery system.
Congratulations on your nomination Angela!
@Dano Yes. Art runs in my family!
water brush = aqua brush. It has a vessel to hold water and you can increase pressure to release water as needed.
Do you have a favorite supplier of wafer paper?
Ladies, we have 27 questions in the queue, which is a lot, so please be patient as Angela answers.
@ cookiecelebration. It has a built in reservoir for water. you can control the amount of water that comes out by how hard to squeeze.
Thank you CakesbyLyssette
Hi Angela and Julia can you recall what your very first painted cookie was
cookiecelebrations I don’t have a favorite. I purchase from Amazon
Jewels&Jones - this one was answered already; please scroll up to see the answer.
What kind of wafer paper do you use and where do u get it from?
VCoats - just answered this one as well!
I'm inspired by just about everything but I always ask anyway, what inspires your work?
I use both Premium and Grade 0 wafer paper. Both can be purchase from Amazon
More water brush input from others . . .
Water brush
@ Cookie Celebration I am inspired simply by color and the emotion it evokes for me. The client provides a theme and my mind creates from that staring point. Color is my first love and I hope it shows in my work.
It does!!
I said this was going to be a colorful chat for a good reason!
Hi Angela, my name is Meredith. Can you talk a little about your dreams of teaching and what inspired those and where you see yourself going with that, separate of what you teach on Periscope?
Thank you Julia!
Great question!
OMG, you have created a monster by sharing this water brush! Cannot wait to order it!!! My heart is literally pumping faster at the sight on this! LOL! Crazy Cookiers we are!
Oh yes, your love of color shows in your work!
Angela, you are a rock star to me. Your constant encouragement to experiment and embrace the outcome is very freeing. Thank you - and where do you see yourself going with your teaching?
Posting Mel's question as it is basically the same as Meredith's, which Angela is answering now.
Hi, Meredith! My ultimate dreams of teaching involve teaching art to underprivileged children in my area. If you are talking about edible goals is to teach that you are not limited to what others say you can do. If you embrace failures, you are bound to figure out that you really can’t go wrong in art. I want to share my love for color and show that you can create beautiful thing with very limited materials.
I especially love your skulls! Are they painted with a brush only??? Outstanding.
I love that you develop young artist in your community thru your summer programs.
Julia, cannot say it enough that your forums really provide such a fantastic sharing and learning environment. We probably should tell you that more!! Thank you. (p.s. I thought you were resting today!)
Thanks, Cookie Celebration. I am off today, except for this chat!
Not sure what these comments were in reference to, but posting them now . . .
Nicely said.
wow that's beautiful Angela
that's beautiful Angela.
Thank you, Mel! Ultimately, I want to share rooms with fellow lovers of art and color, all over the world. That may seem basic but, that’s all I really want.
I think they were in reference to Angela's aspiration of teaching underprivileged kids, which is awesome and beautiful!
Angela, Not sure if you saw the last question, as it's buried in lots of comments, so here it is again: I especially love your skulls! Are they painted with a brush only??? Outstanding.
@Cookie Celebrations which skulls? Do you mean my actual non edible skulls?
Nicely said was about the teaching comment.
Love that you know what you want and follow that in so many ways. What better way to realize that than online!!
Moving onto the next question while Cookie Celebration clarifies what she means by "skulls".
The next two questions are the same so posting at the same time.
HI I am from Harlingen do you ever do classes?
Do you or will you ever offer cookie classes?
Thank you Jewelz&Jones! I was just contacted to teach for the 4th year. I can honestly say it is my favorite time of year. some of the kids have been with me since the beginning
We have 29 questions in the queue with only 15 minutes to go, so I am going to ask people to hold off on posting more questions until we can answer what we have.
Angela, are you open to extending the chat by 15 minutes? I do have to conclude by 11:15 though.
Sorry, to clarify, I love the skull face with the hat and the wafer paper hat and the painted skull with the cigar coming out of his mouth.
the painted box skulls
Hi, Teri! I will start teaching later this year! Keep an eye out!
I'll be in Harlingen very soon.
I can stay longer.
So, CC just clarified what she meant by "skulls" above . . . painted with brush or done some other way?
Those skulls where painted with a brush and black air brush color.
How do you make those beautiful roses? Do you have a template to cut the shapes?
Posting a question related to the one above. Perhaps both can be answered at the same time?
I'm new to the cookie world and scoping so u may have already done this but any chance you could show us how u make your wafer roses?
Yoli, they are all cut free hand. It gives them a more organic look. I use to make paper roses all the time so it wasn't hard to adapt that knowledge to wafer paper.
Angela, Did you see VCoats' question? Do you have a wafer paper rose tutorial?
@Vcoats I have and I will try to do that for you guys soon.
Some questions related to earlier wafer paper answers . . .
im sorry if this is a novice question - but what is the difference between wafer paper and edible paper (rice etc) - unfortunately, i will probably use a printer as I was not blessed with extreme artistic ability!
Sorry, guys, if responses are a little slow.
We're experiencing some internet connection issues.
Doing our best.
I'm not sure if there is a difference in regards to wafer/rice paper.
If we can't answer all of your questions live during the chat, as I must break at 11:15, then I will post them all into the chat at the very end, and I'll see if Angela can answer them later - perhaps for a blog post.
Chiming in here . . . most wafer paper that I've seen is not rice-based; the starch in it is potato starch. They behave similarly though.
I can do that!
what is the difference of premium wafer paper and grade 0?
Good to know!
Grade 0 is much thinner and smaller (dimensions) that the Premium wafer paper.
No Problem Julia, do you think we're leaving? Hah, you'll have to cut us off !!!
Thank You! Looking forward to it!
Thank you Angela!!!!
Posting two related stamping questions next . . .
Angela do you have a picture of a stamped wafer paper?
So you like to use stamps in your work or are you a freehanded at heart?
I coud dig one up (not now though), Yoli.
Yoli - I have a picture on one of my recent cookies. I'll try to find it as Angela answers CC's question.
I rarely use stamps now. I am freehand at heart.
Yoli - Obviously this is not at all in Angela's style, but the tiny wafer paper bows on this cookie topiary were stamped before being shaped.
Angela and Julia...before the chat ends I want to thank you both for been here, for your time and for sharing your knowledge
Still 15 minutes to go!
To starters thank you for sharing your art and techniques. Wondering how supportve your family is with your talent and do they request cookies every time you bake? How do you control cookie monsters from eating away at your inventory?
Good question! Sorry it took so long to get to it!
You're welcome Yoli!
Hi, Ana! My family is very supportive. They hardly ever ask for me to make them anything. If my nieces and nephews ask it is always a yes from me. My kids on the other hand, would eat cookies all day if they could. Unfortunately for them, they rarely ever get to have the sweets I make.
Is there any one thing that has inspired your art form and love of art?
I think this question was already answered and the answer was "color", but Angela, if you have more to add, please do!
Color! That is all! lol
A comment next.
I truly feel that I did not become "artistic" until these watercolors. Now I watercolor, cookies, cakes, and cake boards, I'm addicted, because it becomes easy to add a unique technique to you baked goods.
Did you find that your artistic background automatically transferred to painting on cookies? Because I didn't! Lol! I can paint very well with acrylics but watercolors always threw me.
Angela - what are your favorite paint brushes to use when painting on edibles?
Posting some comments while you answer Meredith's question!
I'm new to painting on cookies myself but even before the end of this chat session I have to tell you that you have inspired me beyond belief. Cannot wait to bake up some cookies today, frost, dry and grab a brush!!
Besides color. Your designs, is what I mean
I feel that it was very east to transition my art background to cookies. I had already been painting on cupcakes and cakes way before I painted a cookie.
Flaky Pastry seems to also what more clarification about what inspires your designs, beyond color.
Once Angela answers this question, we'll try to answer two more live; then I will post the remainder into the chat (so they're saved) and we'll get Angela to answer them later, offline.
I don't have a favorite brush to paint with on my edibles. I feel the artist will make the best use of any brush they are given. I do love using my Gold Escoda brushes for my real watercolor art.
Thank you Cookie Celebration!
Thank you julia
yes thank you ladies for your time and knowledge and willingness to share!!!
I am inspired by themes, patters, people...I would never limit myself to one thing when it comes to inspiration.
Hi Anglea! Thank you so much for sharing your techniques on Periscope. You have broadened my decorating skills and I'm seeing more possibilities with not only design, but also in saving time. I am amazed at your work and am loving playing with watercolors myself. Your cake/cookie packages are incredible. How do you get it all done and keep your sanity? I would assume you purposely design projects that are not only unique but time saving?
After Christina's Q, I'll be posting one more to be answered live . . .
this was so awesome!
Hope to meet you someday Angela, thank you!
I would like to thank you for sharing and teaching your gift with us. I really enjoy learning on how you make your watercolor. I just wanted you to know your truly a gifted and talented artist. I have really enjoyed watching your art.
Christina, I have a family to keep up with so time is always at the front of m y mind. By limiting my materials it forces my to be creative. Use of color has been the main way to create a huge impact with out using so much material.
Hope that made sense.
Just posted a few comments.
Makes complete sense.
Thank you everyone! Thank you for having me Julia.
So I am going to post one more live question. I have been jumping around, trying to make sure everyone who had a question got at least one answered live, but if I missed anyone, my apologies in advance.
We'll be sure to get unanswered questions answered offline. I will likely post them at the end of this chat or/and as a separate blog post . . .
So before the last LIVE question . . .
Sounds good.
Thanks to Angela for such a rousing chat and to all for such great and plentiful questions. Now for that last LIVE question . . .
I tried painting for the first time for Valentines Day. I discovered that some colors don't really blend well. I've thought about using a color wheel. Your thoughts...
Thank you! This was a real treat!
Thank you Angela, for your answers and for sharing your technique. Thanks Julia again for making this possible. It is always interesting and inspiring.
Thank you Julia for having a great guest. I looked forward to this.
If you are new to painting in general, I would invest in taking a watercolor course or buying some books on mixing colors. I know Etsy has a watercolor basics and that could really come in handy. A color wheel can be helpful. Ultimately, nothing can compare to getting your hands dirty and failing in order to become successful.
Looks as if you may also hand cut your cookies!!??
Your gold tinting on letters is impeccable! Do you use the tiniest brush ever made?
Love your needlework cookies as well. A technique I've wanted to try but have not had the patience for!! Which brings me to this question, do you plan out your cookie designs or do you create organically?
Do you have a youtube channel?
Regarding the forming of wafer paper, do you wet it and lay it over something to get the shape or does it set up fast enough for you while you are creating, say, the petals of your flowers?
Angela - do you see any of your artistic traits/genes in any of your children? If so, do you plan to lead them in the direction of art on edibles or a more traditional art path?
On your needlework pieces, it looks as if you hand pipe it all in white and then paint over it? Amazing.
Do you offer your customers different cookie flavors/recipes or do you stick to one or two?
What is your source of pigment color or paint?
Down to business...literally. Do you have a full-time business making cookies and does it sustain you by itself?
It was fun an my connection was bad! Thanks everyone!
Do you sell primarily online or locally?
If you ship your cookies, do you have trouble packaging them?
Hi, Angela! Do you sketch our your sets before you create them, and do you ever make the same set twice if a customer requests it from you?
I find it tricky to pipe intricate details with glaze icing, any tips for making the piping easier but maintaining the dimension?
Do people ever ask if you can design tattoos for them? Trust me, that is a compliment as I can see those amazing skulls being used. So fun and whimsical.
Is there anything special you do or use to acquire "water colors"
What did you do to help grow your business, and what would recommend to new comers to help them attract more clients?
Why "the painted box"?
How much info do you gather from a client before you create their sets/package. Do you prefer a minimal knowledge of what they want so that you have a blank canvas? I adored how you took us thru the evolution of this sketch to cake
Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 11.41.02 AM
Angela do you prefer a cookie palette or a cake palette?
I am having trouble finding the balance with my gel and alcohol mixture so my wafer paper doesn't curl. Any suggestions?
Angela, had you ever had any over zealous fans? Like stalker types that made you feel uncomfortable? I'm talking level 4 stalker type - the type that frames your photos and gazes at them while baking.
so i have a very large cookie order (300). I like to bake my cookies as close to delivery date as possible but I've never had an order so large. Any suggestions?
A final thank you to Angela, before I sign off! Have a great weekend everyone!
So much valuable information from this chat: the Tim Holtz brush, techniques, colors, design, inspiration. Thank you Angela and Julia.
This chat has ended.
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