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Live Chat with the Sisters of SugarBliss Cookies

Hi, Jeanette and Laurie, So wonderful to have you with us to chat today. I think I first discovered you at the last CookieCon, where I admired your wonderful airbrushed "Where the Wild Things Are" cookies. Now, you'll be teaching some of those techniques there this year! Wow - congrats!
Hi Julia! Thank you! We are so excited to be here with you! We had such a great time at CookieCon. It was so fun to meet some of cookie friends in person! Our "Where The Wild Things Are" cookies were an experiment gone right. They were a lot of fun to design and create! Definitely one of our favorite past projects.
I look forward to learning more about you and your signature airbrushing style . . . but first, 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 our guests read and answer 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 to keep track of questions and for others to follow the dialogue this way.
Lastly, if you have a question that you'd like to direct to either Jeanette OR Laurie, but not both, then please be sure to address the right sister at the start of your question. Otherwise, Jeanette and Laurie will jointly answer your question.
OK, ready everyone? I'm starting with some questions I posted in advance.
I have a question for you. Airbrushing seems to be one of your favorite techniques, but the airbrush tends to intimidate many beginners. What are your top three tips for making airbrushing easier/less intimidating?
Julia, we absolutely love to airbrush our cookies! We were very hesitant to purchase an airbrush because neither of us had any experience using one. However, we decided to give it a try and we were instantly hooked. You just can't create the same kind of dimension and look you get from airbrushing with any other technique. If we had to give you three tips to get started they would be: 1. Get to know your airbrush. Even if you just spray on paper, you need to use it and get familiar with the trigger pressure. The different details created with an airbrush are all achieved by the amount of trigger pressure (amount of air flow) and the amount of distance you work from. Practice, practice, practice! 2. Think "highlights" and "low-lights" when you use your airbrush to create dimension. Plan it out before you start airbrushing. 3. Start with the darkest color (low-light) first. We will discuss this more at CookieCon, but the color wheel can also give you clues about which colors you can use and how to layer them together.
I envy those going to CookieCon, because I'm sure they'll learn a ton in your class!
What type(s) of airbrush(es) do you have? Which do you prefer for cookie work and why?
Julia, we are still using the original two airbrushes we purchased way back when. They are both a single action Pegasus airbrush. Some day soon we may venture out and purchase a dual action but for now these little airbrushes do everything we need them to do for cookie decorating. For a beginner, the single action is probably the way to go. It simplifies the technique. The dual action allows you more control over air pressure which gives you the ability to create finer details. As cookie decorators, we are typically working on a 3" cookie and not a wall mural - so how much of that finer detail and control you will utilize from a dual action airbrush is probably debatable.
OK, one last question from me for a while . . .
So how did you both decide to go into business together? What are the challenges/pluses of working with your sibling?
I don't think we would have gone into business making cookies if it hadn't been for our adorable nagging family and friends! I would bet many of you started out the same way. Word spreads quickly and before you know it the whole neighborhood is asking you to make cookies for their parties and events. We were buying eggs, flour, and butter in bulk every week and things were getting expensive! We needed our little cookie habit to support itself and so SugarBliss Cookies became an official business. Working with your sister is great for so many reasons! Cookie decorating day also doubles as a lunch date most of the time. Having two minds approach a design saves us from a creative funk, and four hands decorate cookies faster than two! The challenges siblings face working together probably vary depending on the personalities involved. We feel like we create a good balance to each other in the same ways that we are a challenge to each other. Sometimes we see a design completely differently and it is difficult to find a middle ground. Certain details that are important to one are not important to the other. In the end, we keep each other in check. Laurie doesn't sweat the small stuff and keeps our process time-efficient and moving along. Jeanette likes to be adventurous with designs and try new things. Our biggest challenge is aligning our schedules. In addition to our cookie business, we are both registered nurses and mothers to some very busy kids!
Sounds like an ideal partnership! OK, we're now moving onto live questions. We have one in the queue . . . so if anyone else has questions, now's the time to ask!
How far in advance to you plan out your cookies when you airbrush? Do you flood one day and then airbrush the next? How soon can you add your details on top?
Answers may take a little longer to come, now that we're typing real-time. So please be patient, but keep those questions coming. I'll feed them in as each question gets answered.
We usually spend a few days in advance thinking and planning out our designs. Sometimes the airbrushing complicates the steps of the design and you have to think through which steps should be done first. There are always multiple ways to approach a design! We are pretty impatient decorators. We outline, flood, airbrush and add details to our cookies all in the same day. We like our cookies to be as fresh as possible so we work through the decorating as quickly as possible.
New to these chats, do you have a tutorial online to show how you use the airbrush?
We have created a few airbrushing tutorials for Sweet Sugarbelle and they are available on her page. We have been teaching cookie decorating classes in Salt Lake at a local kitchen supply store. We teach several of our airbrushing techniques in those classes as well. We love the teaching aspect of cookies and hope we will be able to put more tutorials online in the near future!
While we wait for others' questions, I have another one . . .
You mentioned single- vs. dual-action airbrushes early. Can you describe the basic differences in function between the two?
While they're answering, any questions from others?
Oops - "early" = "earlier"
Single action airbrushes have a trigger that simply pulls back to increase the amount of airflow through the airbrush. More airflow = more color. The dual action airbrush has a trigger that can be pushed down as well as pulled back. Pushing down controls the amount of airflow and pulling back controls the color. Having the two be independent of each other allows you more control. Does that make sense?
Yes, completely. Thanks! I imagine the dual-action are more expensive, so a single-action airbrush is probably the wisest investment for a beginner.
When creating the dimensional effect on, say a flower like your profile pic, how do you prevent overspray if the highlight is in the center of your cookie?
Great question!
Yes, Julia, the single action is a great place to begin! Like we said before, we are typically working on a 3" canvas - so how much finer detail you are going to be able to add with your airbrush on such a small space is minimal. We are not convinced the dual-action airbrush would make a huge difference for cookie decorators.
I think Heather Srock has a dual-action brush and she loves it on cookies, but I too am skeptical about the need for additional control.
Teresa, the daisy in our profile picture has a low-light in the middle. We flooded the flower a light yellow (to represent the color we wanted to see in the highlights). Then we added orange and yellow fading into each other with the darkest part in the center. In this case, the over spray is what helps the look fade into another color. You can control the amount of over spray by decreasing the amount of airflow, airbrushing closer to your cookie, and practice, practice, practice!
where do you buy your airbrush colors?
Remember to start with your darkest color and go from there. Again, using our profile picture as an example, if we started with the yellow and then tried to spray the orange, the over spray from the orange would/could turn everything orange and you would lose the yellow hue. If you spray the orange first and then add yellow, the yellow will stay yellow and shouldn't change the orange much because it is a lighter color.
Sweet Sue, we buy most of our airbrush colors at the same store we teach our classes out of - Orson Gygi. If you are coming in town for CookieCon, you should check the place out! I believe they will have a vendor booth at CookieCon again. They have made a big effort in the last year to increase their inventory of cookie decorating supplies! Those that were able to shop in their store at the last CookieCon will be pleasantly surprised! You can order from them online too.
Are they selling Orson Gygi colors though? Or do you use another brand?
thank you for your information
No, they are selling Americolor gel and Amerimist airbrush colors.
Thanks - Here's a link to the Orson Gygi site class calendar! There's a SugarBliss class on April 29 for anyone in the area!
So I have another question for you . . .
When you're creating cookies like "The Wild Things" (attached), where many sections seem to be airbrushed along the edges . . .
. . . how do you approach them? Do you ice and aribrush each section before icing the next? Or ice everything and then just hold the airbrush super close to the areas you want to hit? Again, wondering about controlling overspray in areas where you don't want it.
Questions from anyone else? I feel like I'm hogging the chat here. Not my intention . . . please jump in. If you're not able to go to CookieCon, this is a rare opportunity to tap the brains of two great cookie decorators!
great question Julia
The answer isn't always the same... with these guys - take the bird for example, we iced and sprayed the gray areas first and then iced his belly, beak and his feathers and sprayed them last. We did it this way because the colors on his body were very different. The big brown guy in the front we iced all at once and then sprayed everything at the end. It worked to do him all at once because the colors on his body are similar. It does take some trigger control to keep the over spray down. You can spend a lot of time flooding different colors and sectioning things off and then ruin the effect by over airbrushing or too much over spray. Less is usually more!
Do you ever mask off areas, like with plastic wrap, to minimize overspray? Or do you find that's not necessary with most designs once you master trigger control?
No, we don't mask off areas. We haven't ever played with plastic wrap like the press and seal but we have seen others using it for different techniques. It would probably work well if your cookies are totally dry, however, ours are rarely dry enough when we airbrush them to try something like that.
Got it!
For us, it boils down to trigger control. This takes practice and once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier to use a very light trigger pressure while you're airbrushing small/light areas.
I'm going to reserve the rest of my questions for our written interview later this month, so others have time to ask questions now. We've got about 10 more minutes, so there's definitely time for more Q&A.
But if no one has any, I'm open to signing off a bit early, as I know everyone has busy weekend schedules.
Are any of our chat participants going to CookieCon? Just curious! If so, you'll be really lucky to meet Jeanette and Laurie there!
thank you for your time explaining your techniques
Very informative! Thanks.
As I was scrolling thru your facebook photos I saw the darling hotenany letters...what cutters did you use or did you hand cut them?
You are so welcome Sweet Sue and Teresa! Thanks so much for chatting with us! I hope the information helps - but sometimes this stuff is just easier to explain with a demo Hopefully, we will see you at CookieCon!
Kelly just asked a question, and there's one more in the queue. So we'll field those and call it a wrap. Sound good?
KellyCinCa, we hand cut those letters out because we couldn't find cutters that had the look we wanted.
Well, I'm brand new at this and never touched an airbrush.  What kind of cookie design technique or color should a beginner start trying first?
bye and thank you
Hi Jodi! Flowers are a great easy place to start. They are pretty forgiving and hard to mess up. We created a tutorial for the exact flowers you see in our profile picture. Here is the link
Thank you so much, ladies, for a wonderful chat. I regret that I won't see you at CookieCon this year . . .
We love using the Amerimist colors. They sell a beginner set that has 12 small bottles of color. All of the common ones you would need. Anything beyond that is pretty easy to mix using the colors they provide.
. . . but I will have all sorts of additional questions for your for our written interview.
Oh, thank you.  I will go there next.   Can't wait to learn from you at CookieCon!
Thanks, Julia! We will miss seeing you too. The chat was so much fun. Thank you for hosting!
Thanks, everyone else, for tuning in! Have a great weekend!
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