Working with Royal Icing Textures

Hello Fellow Cookie Lovers,

I know, I know!  It’s been a long while since I’ve posted to my blog!  I’ve been in a total state of transition (still am!), and I am finally finding the time to post something of value for all of you.  I’ll leave it at that and keep you updated on some changes with regard to my website, blog, etc. in the near future.

I made a promise to myself that 2016 would be the year that I tried out new techniques in cookie decorating.  I’ve taken a break from producing cookies for sale and it has been very beneficial as it’s a different creative process when you have total and complete free reign of the design with no time challenges to be concerned about.

Onto the tutorial for this post. I want to share with you some new techniques I’ve been working with – specifically achieving texture on cookies with royal icing and hand painting.  I’m sort of new to it myself, so I’ll share what I can and encourage all of you to seek out other Cookiers who have a passion for these techniques as well.

In the cookies I recently created for a mixed media challenge on Julia Usher’s Cookie Connection website, I was challenged to use texture, painting, wafer paper, lustre dusts, intricate piping, royal icing transfers, and sugar beads.  It was fun!!! Really, the worst of the cookies still came out nice proving that you don’t have to be an expert in any one technique; you just have to want to challenge yourself and try new things and know that a mix of media really adds a level of beauty you might not have otherwise achieved.  I found that I got better with practice.  Some techniques took longer than others to master and I still practice all the time.

Textured Hearts 1

I’m totally hooked on the “plastered look technique” used on my recent cookies and will show you how easy it is to do.  I’ve omitted the make the dough, roll the dough, cut the dough, blah, blah, blah, assuming you want to move on to the creative stuff quickly!!  Me too!

TOOLS YOU’LL NEED AND THE COLOR SCHEME USED

Pictured below are the tools that I used for this technique.  If you do not own a Zester tool, I have tried it with the small side of a generic shredder used for cheeses and it comes out good enough to use – just a little more coarse. Don’t make yourself crazy with having the exact items I used, this technique is very forgiving. For instance, if you only have one size brush and it is either larger or smaller – use it! You can always add to your inventory if you fall in love with the overall technique. Just promise me you won’t use SANDPAPER! I honestly had someone ask me if they could use that. NO!! Use a metallic utensil that can be washed and is used for food sources only.

Texured Cookies Tools
Tools used to achieve the color scheme and the texturizing on the cookies

 

MIXING THE ICING

This is the Royal Icing recipe I use:

  • 3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Wilton Meringue Powder
  • 6 Tablespoons of water

Put all ingredients into a stand mixer and whip on high for about 5-6 minutes. The icing should stay on a spoon if you turn it upside down and leave a dent in it if you push your finger into the icing.  Similar to what you may use to make royal icing roses.

In the picture below, you will see I am using a Navy Blue, Ivory and White color scheme (Americolor Gel Food Coloring).   The first layer should be a 5 second icing that flows over the cookie to get a smooth base.  For the second and third layers, I will be using a thicker royal icing than the first layer.  You can see the difference in texture in the picture.  The white and Ivory icing consistency was achieved using icing straight out of the mixer. When mixing, I used one cup of icing to which I added 13 drops of Navy Blue for the blue, and, 1 drop of Ivory for the off white color.

Textured Cookies Color Scheme
Color Scheme: Navy Blue, Ivory, White

ICE THE COOKIES

I iced my cookies in two colors – Navy Blue and White – leaving the Ivory to be a texture layer on both cookies.   I then let them dry overnight.  It’s really important to dry the first layer 24 hours as you will be really “working” these cookies with some tools and a couple of other layers of icing.  I’m showing a dark base and a white base version so you can see how the cookies come out in the end and the variety you can get simply by using the same color scheme.

Although I create in an organic way, (not much planning on paper but rather in my head) I do have a sense of the color scheme I want to achieve in the final cookie before I start.  For those of you who find this intimidating, just copy this color schemes to start and, once you get the feel for it, experiment with your own colors – look in your closet for inspiration! I think we tend to dress and decorate in color schemes we subconsciously, or knowingly, like.

Texture Cookies Iced

Iced Cookies

TEXTURIZING THE COOKIES: SECOND LAYER

This is the fun part, especially if you’ve never intentionally “messed up” a cookie!  For this part I used a mini offset spatula to apply the icing.  If you don’t have one, use a butter knife.  In this stage, you will use the Ivory icing for both of the cookies’ second layer.

Take your Ivory icing and simply smear it on the cookie trying to leave “about” 50% of the first layer exposed.  Don’t get too smooth on this layer. Move your spatula in different directions and apply different pressure in some areas. I try and keep this layer fairly thin – about 1/16″.   The only “rule” here is to clean up the edges after you apply this layer as you probably will want to do some kind of edging on the cookie in the end.  Once you’ve completed this stage, let it dry a couple of hours.  This layer will dry quickly as it is much less thick than the initial layer.

Spackle 1
Grab a small amount of the second layer icing color on an offset spatula.
Spackle 2
This is what your cookies should look like after “spackling” on the second layer of the cookie. Notice it is not even, not smooth, and I have tried to keep the edges fairly clean.
Spackle 4
I kept the second layer of icing for the white-based cookies the same as the blue-based cookies as I wanted the blue on top of this cookie just to get a lighter look.

At this point, you want to let the cookies dry for about two hours.

TEXTURIZING THE COOKIES: THIRD LAYER

For the third, and final, layers, I used Blue icing for the white-based cookie, and White icing for the blue-based cookie.  Same technique using the offset spatula; spread the icing over the entire cookie, this time leaving about 25% of the first layer exposed and 50% of the second layer exposed.  Keep it a bit chunkier/coarser on this layer (chunkier/coarser on texture, not thickness – stick with the same 1/16″ as in the second step).  Again, clean up those edges and then let the cookie dry overnight.

Spackle 8
For the white-based cookie, this is what the end product will look like (prior to drying) with the second and third layers applied to the first smooth layer.  Let dry overnight.
Spackle 10
For the blue-based cookie, this is what the end product will look like (prior to drying) with the second and third layers applied to the first smooth layer.  Let dry overnight.

FILING/SANDING DOWN THE ICING

Time to really get those cookies looking spectacular.  My favorite stage, actually.  We’re going to “sand” the cookie down with the zester tool.  If you’ve never sanded down royal icing before, just remember to keep the pressure a bit light for this technique as you don’t want to 1) crack the cookie, and 2) take too much icing off all at once.  It’s a gradual process.  Once you get more comfortable with this process, you’ll get a feel for the level of pressure you can use on the icing/cookie.

It is important to “sand down” the icing you just meticulously spread onto your cookie over the last day in order to get that Old World Venetian Plaster look to your cookies.  We are NOT going for the 1970’s stucco look!!  Oh yes, I’m that old!

The idea here is two fold: 1) smooth out the roughness of the icing, and 2) create a visual layering of all three icing layers.  I do this by moving the zester – constantly turning it and the cookie, and angling it in all directions as I pull it across the icing.  As you work near the edges, I like to angle the zester to obtain a rounded edge.  You’ll want to keep a clean, dry brush next to you to brush away the “royal icing dust” so you can see how the layers are starting to look.  Keep in mind when you sand the icing down, it will make it much more porous to your “paint” you will create with food gel, so you don’t want heavy pressure here.  Keep it light enough to remove the roughness but heavy enough to get the crustier edges sanded down.

Sanding 1
This is what the cookies look like when they are fully dried and prior to sanding with the zester.

I’m going to share a lot of pictures with you for this step of the process so you can see the level of beauty the sanded cookies have prior to painting.

Sanding 2
This is what the blue-based cookies look like when I finished sanding but haven’t yet brushed the royal icing dust off the cookies.
Sanding 3
This is what the white-based cookies look like when I finished sanding but haven’t yet brushed the royal icing dust off the cookies.
And…this is what the cookies will look like after you have brushed off the royal icing dust!!!! I’ve included individual pictures below so you can see the closeup details.Sanding Final

Sanding 8

Sanding 9

Sanding 7

Sanding 4

Sanding 14

Sanding 6

Prior to moving on to the next stage, make sure you brush, brush, brush the dust off those cookies.  I also take a clean, dry towel and wipe down the cookies, front and back.

PAINTING THE COOKIE

You probably feel like this is a lot of work for a cookie, but trust me, reading it takes much longer than it actually takes to do.  The results at each step are so fun to see and I promise you will be really excited along the way to see how the cookie will turn out.

Before we start painting the cookie, you MUST make sure you have thoroughly brushed off the “icing dust” on the front, back and sides of the cookies.  If not, your colors and textures tend to get muddied rather than enhance the overall texture.  So, brush, brush, brush, those cookies.

Similar to the coloring of the icing, selecting your paint colors is one part trial and error and another part sticking to a color scheme.  Remember I told you that your icing becomes more porous as you sand it?  Well, that means that as you apply the paint color the overall color will be darker, and in some cases a bit pitted looking.  That’s okay, it just takes some “trial and error” to get a knack for how colors change when applying them to porous icing and other colors.  For instance, you will find using an ivory wash over pink will turn it orange and over blue it will turn it green.  This is something I really didn’t have a problem with as I have used acrylic paints and watercolors in my past and had that knowledge.  If you don’t have this baseline knowledge, don’t worry, just go with the flow – it will be more fun to see what you create!! 😉

A couple of things about creating the “paint wash”:

  • I used Americolor gel colors for this project but also use Wilton colors.
  • I used paint brushes I only use when working with my cookies.
  • You need a lot of water and very little gel color.
  • Keep a wad of paper towels next to your paint palette.

The idea for this stage is to get a variety of colors in your icing and a depth of color by laying the paint over the textured layers you painstakingly created. For the cookies pictured in this post, I used Americolor’s Navy Blue and Ivory colors – the same colors I used when tinting the royal icing.  Sometimes I use totally different colors than the ones I used to tint the icing, but, again, it’s trial and error, so explore.

  1. I put a very tiny amount of color on my palette and mix a lot of water into the gel to get what looks like a steeped tea, translucent color.
  2. I then dip my brush in the mix and wipe it on my paper towel to see if the color needs to be watered down further.
  3. I re-dip the brush and slightly blot it on the paper towel again to get off some of the wash.
  4. I then “brush” it and “blot” it across the cookie.
  5. Once the brush gets dry I repeat the process from step 3 on.
  6. I don’t typically color the cookie entirely with color; instead, I try to leave some white/ivory showing to keep the range of depth strong.
  7. For this project, I used the Navy Blue and the Ivory gel colors.  You can go crazy with more than two colors to get some really beautiful looks; for this project, I am using just two to keep it easy.
  8. The painting process is similar to the “spackling” process in that I use the first color and then layer the second color on.  As you will see in the following pictures, I don’t wait for each paint color to dry, I work with the colors one right after the other.  After the cookies fully dry, I sometimes go back in to add some darker color but most of the time I am finished after using the two colors while they are both wet.
Painting 1
This is what I start with. I’ve put a couple of drops of blue in one crevice of my painting tray and two drops of ivory in a couple of other crevices. I’m using a flat head brush and a rounded brush.  I have my water and paper towels handy as well.

I’m starting with the Navy Blue gel and watering it down.  I test it on my paper towel to make sure it is a light wash.

Painting 2

 

 

 

Painting 4
I next watered down my Ivory gel and blot it on the paper towel to get a light wash.  You can see how beautiful your paper towels are already starting to look!!
Painting 8
For the blue-based cookies, I left some white and blue showing as I will then be applying the Navy Blue as the next color.

 

Painting 6
For the white-based cookies, I also left some blue and white showing, and then went ahead and layered on a very light wash of the blue.
Painting 9
After putting a light wash of blue on the blue-based cookies, I dipped my brush directly in the Navy Blue gel without watering it down and dapped it into key areas and crevices on the cookie to get the look above.  Below is a picture of just how dark the Navy Blue color was that I used.

Painting 5

After the cookies dried for about 30 minutes, I went back in and used a dried brush technique with my rounded brush and VERY lightly swirled my brush over the cookies to get an even more subtle level of texture.

Dry Brush 1
When using the dry brush technique, put the tip of your brush into the full color gel and then in a circular motion, swipe the brush over your paper towel until the gel is more dry than moist.  At that point you can take it to your cookie.  Swirl the brush lightly over the cookie and as you go over the textures of the cookie, you will see even more texture comes out than when you used the watered down gel colors.

This is what the cookies looked like after I painted with watered down colors, and the second picture is what they looked like after applying the dry brush technique.

Painting Final
After applying watered down gel colors but prior to final dry brushing technique.
Dry Brush Final
The effect is subtle but if you look at some of the lighter areas, you can see that the dry brushing has just deposited a small speck of color here and there emphasizing the texture from sanding the icing.

Now, let the cookie dry a bit (about one hour) before getting into the metallic layer – if you want to add a metallic layer.  (For these, I do!!)  I find waiting for them to dry a bit works best so that the metallic really “pops” the overall design of the cookie.

In applying the metallic layer, less is more.  I decided to use both silver and gold dusts on the cookies as I haven’t tried that before.  Focus on putting a concentration of metallic in just a few areas so the metallic is bold but not overpowering.  I used the Wilton lustre dusts mixed with vodka to get a smooth paste that brushes on without clumping.  I then let the cookie dry overnight before I add any decorative details such as royal icing transfers, stamping details, wafer paper, beads, etc.

Metallic 1
I am showing the silver dust mixed with the vodka and the gold dust strait out of the bottle.  I used each color mixed with vodka, but wanted to show the dry version as well.

 

Metallic 3
Up close look at one of the cookies with some gold washed over it.
Metallic 4
In the cookies on the left you can see I used silver dust.  For the cookies on the right I used gold.
Metallic 2
Up close look of some silver dust on the cookies.

Metallic 5

Let dry overnight so that you can literally use any decorative technique you want when the cookie is fully dry.

ADDING OTHER ELEMENTS 

Once you have your gorgeous, textured cookies, you can do just about anything on top of them.  In the pictures below, you will see that I explored using a stencil and royal icing to get even more texture to the cookie.  I also added royal icing transfers (roses) and gold and pearl white beads.  I also piped some design because, well, I’m a PIPE-A-HOLIC!! (I seriously get the jitters if I go 48 hours without piping SOMETHING! Hey, don’t judge me, you’ll get there!)  Your options are unlimited and I encourage you to imagine anything.  Add wafer paper, some Cookiers like fondant transfers, others use SugarVeil (I have not tried it yet), you can use beads/dragees, and even dry lustre dust adds a nice element to the textured cookie.

 

Blog 4
Of the six cookies that I made for this Blog Posting, I did four of them with an emphasis on gold.
Blog 3
For the other two cookies, I tried to stay with a silver tone to them and kept the overall look of the cookie lighter.
Textured Hearts 1
These are the Valentine Hearts I recently made using a textured base, stencils with royal icing, hand piping, royal icing transfers (flowers), and gold beads.  For the cookie in the upper right corner, I used a stamp before using the stencil over the cookie.

And the pictures below are some closeups of the cookies done for this Blog Posting.

Blog 5

Blog 6

Blog 7

Blog 8

Blog 10

Blog 9

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope to share more with you, ahem, in a more timely manner in 2016.  Thanks for following me fellow cookie lovers and remember to just have fun! They are cookies! Even if you aren’t completely satisfied with your end result the first time around, your consolation prize is that you have a tasty cookie to eat, which will give you the inspiration to try another batch!!  I know I did!!

Diane.

 

 

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Whoo, Whoo Wants To Make Some Festive Owls?

Hi Fellow Cookie Lovers,

Spring is finally in the air and I’ve been working on cookies with a ton of colors lately.  I thought it would be nice to share a fun project with you – Festive Owls.  I’m thinking my next project for my blog will be festive flowers so tune in for that upcoming blog! Tons of fun, I promise!

Festive Owls
Festive Owls

I don’t own an Owl Cookie Cutter so I use my egg cutter and my oval cutter and I simply cut out a piece from the top of each to create an owl design.  If I happen to find an Owl Cutter that I like and is a good size I’ll purchase it but to-date, I haven’t found anything I really like yet.

Two Ovals CutUsing smaller cutters, I cut out the top to make it look like an owl.Baked up Owls with Wings

I cut a couple of cookies using my egg and oval cutters (First Photo).  I then took a small egg cutter and a round scalloped cutter and cut off the tops of the original shapes to create the head of the owls (Second Photo).  I saved the cutouts to use as wings on the Oval Owls (Third Photo).

Outlined Owls
Outlined Owls
Flooded Owls
Flooded Owls

I then outlined each of the cookies and flooded in the main colors.  For the wings, I used a simple wet-on-wet technique using a base dot color and then a lighter dot color on top of that.  I did let these dry overnight…not because I’m a patient person…because I knew I would be adding even more layers and texture to the cookies and if I make a mistake it’s easier to correct on totally dry cookies.  Soooo, try to let them dry overnight.

Royal Icing Dots
Royal Icing Dots

A little side note about the picture above.  If you don’t do this already, you may want to try this with any leftover royal icing you don’t want to throw out.  Whenever I have extra royal icing that is too loose to make roses with, I make all different size dots and store them for a project such as this one. I also use them for my Colorful Flowers as the centers and it saves me a ton of time decorating.  I sometimes use a template to ensure they actually come out round but sometimes I just wing it!  Below, you can see how I used different color dots to start the Owls’ eyes.

Owls with Eyes Attached
Owls with Eyes Attached
Second Set of Owls with Eyes Attached
Second Set of Owls with Eyes Attached

I chose some of the colorful dots for the eyes of each of the owls and attached them with royal icing. In the second picture where the owls have the scalloped head, you can see the lines (a bit hard to see, however-sorry) I drew in using the wings as a guide so I could place the eyes knowing when I attach the wings they won’t be in the way.  That’s important when you’re doing the 2-D Owls.

Outlined Eyes and Nose

I then split my owls into two projects; the first are the one dimensional Owls.  I outlined the eyes with a flowering sort of design and outlined the nose (above). Adding the wings/breast I then flooded the nose, drew in a design for the wings and outlined and flooded the chest of the owls (above). Flooded Owls You can see in the photo above, I went ahead and flooded the wings.  Then I simply added a highlight color above the chest half circle, added dots to the ear section and added some orange dots around the eyes. I have to admit I started to get a little crazy with the colors at this point.  Go crazy with color on your first project; you can always scale back when you make them again, but have fun and explore. Make the first set for yourself, they are equally as fun to EAT!!

Finished Owls Made from Egg Cutter.

And these are the owls completed (made from the Egg Cutter).  I used both Royal Icing and food markers to add the remaining details.  I’ve been exploring with the food writers lately and they come in handy for some lighter details but I’m not totally sold on the full value of them.  I like the FooDoodlers better than the Wilton fine tips but all of the food writers’ tips do “smash” in a bit and get thicker.  They have their value but I get more mileage from Royal Icing and a paint brush.  Try them yourself – I’d suggest fine or extra fine tips as the regular tips sold in most Craft Stores are way too thick to have much value in the design process.  I do, however, use the food writers a lot for outlining some preliminary guidelines and for this purpose they are invaluable.

Okay, moving on to the Owls made using the Oval Cutter.  For these Owls, I also used the cutouts I had when I cut the head of the Owls out.  I thought they’d make nice wings.  In hindsight, ehhh, they make it a bit more interesting but I think the one dimensional owls are equally as nice and faster to make. But, see how you like the process of adding dimension to yours.

Outlined Owls and Wings

First (Photo Above), I outlined a scalloped design on the top of the Owls and used a wet-on-wet technique for the wings.

Second Set of Owls with Eyes Attached
Second Set of Owls with Eyes Attached

Then, I added those same pre-made dots for the eyes.

Owls with Nose Added

After adding the eyes, I added the nose by outlining it first and then flooding it.  I then outlined the top scallop with a contrasting color to make it stand out a bit more.

Features Added to Owls

Okay, yes, I went a “little” crazy with the colors and designs.  Next time I’d tone it down a bit but like I said earlier, go crazy, you get a better sense of what you like and don’t like only with trial and error.  I rarely sketch things out on paper – too impatient.  I think it works for a lot of Cookiers but I’d rather just grab a variety of colors and tips and “wing it” – no pun intended. 🙂  Time to add the wings.

Adding wings to the Owls

In order to add the wings, I needed to have something underneath each of the wings that was level with the cookie itself so the wings were flat against the body of the Owls.  I then let them dry for about and hour. And…wha-la…Festive Owls.

Completed Owls
Completed Owls

Kinda fun…don’t you think?  Definitely learned some lessons along the way and I’m inspired to do another set using those lessons.  I hope you try something festive.  Make up a batch of four or five colors, use several different size tips and explore.  I think you’ll be surprised how easy it can be!

Diane

Painting on Cookies Technique

Hello Fellow Cookie Lovers,

This blog posting will be all about painting on cookies.  Now, in all fairness, I literally JUST STARTED to paint on cookies about two months ago so I am not an expert. However, I do have an art background and have painted throughout the last 40 years of my life.  Painting on cookies is similar, and…different, at the same time.  So with that disclaimer in place, I’ll share with you what I can and hopefully it inspires you to JUST TRY it.  Number one, it’s fun.  Number two, it’s a cookie; what do you have to lose?  Some dough, some icing?  So, start with small cookies.  And if you want to see some real expert cookie painters, check out these Facebook pages of some of my all time favorite talented Cookiers/Painters/Artists (MézesmannaThe Cookie Lab – Bolachas Decoradas Artesanais) – you will not be disappointed! I promise!

Some of you have asked me specifically what my process is for the “Folk Art” collection I’ve presented on this blog and on my FaceBook account. The pictures below are the five cookies I’ve done to date – the newest being “Confetti Flower.”

Folk Art Collection: Turtle Love, Calico Cat, Spoiled Dog, Peacock, and Confetti Flower.
Folk Art Collection: Turtle Love, Calico Cat, Spoiled Dog, Peacock, and Confetti Flower.

I’ll be using “Confetti Flower” to demonstrate this process.  Keep in mind that all of these cookies are large in size; I have found it has enabled me to be more creative while at the same time practicing a variety of designs all on one cookie.  For you, working on a smaller cookie might work better so try what feels right to you.

CUTTING THE DOUGH

Okay, so, I rolled out the dough! I then placed the dough onto my Silpat-lined baking sheet before cutting the design out. I find this keeps the shape intact better than cutting it and then transferring it onto the sheet.  When you see the cutter in the photos below, you might be wondering where I obtained such a large cutter. It is one of the “Pancake Molds” I wrote about in my last blog. I’m always on the lookout for new ones!!

Rolled Out Dough on Silpat
Rolled Out Dough on Silpat

Using the Pancake Mold Flower Shape to cut the dough directly on the Silpat

Dough Cut

At this stage, I knew I wanted to do something with the middle so I took a smaller cookie cutter and decided to stamp the design into the dough so I could save myself time when outlining my initial shapes.

Stamping the smaller design onto the dough
Stamping the smaller design onto the dough

This is what the cookie looked like prior to baking…and then after baking.

Cookie prior to baking
Cookie prior to baking
Cookie after baking
Cookie after baking

OUTLINING THE SECTIONS OF THE COOKIE

At this point in the process, I start having some idea of how I want to break the cookie up into sections. I start with a general outlining of the larger shapes. I wanted smaller circles in the middle of the flower so I used a food writer to draw those in.  I added leaves and then simply outlined the rest of the cookie into shapes I knew I could easily work with from a design standpoint. You will notice in the last picture I drew in some additional circles using the food writer but after outlining the petals decided not to include those in the overall design of the flower.  This really is an organic process that reveals itself to you as you work with the cookie. Just go with the flow!

Starting the outlining process
Starting the outlining process
Adding small circles to the overall design
Adding small circles to the overall design
Finished outlining process
Finished outlining process

When I tell you I never really know what I am going to do at this time…well, it’s true.  I have a general sense of the colors I want to use but not the actual details I will eventually paint.  I say, just go with your gut on the colors and the rest really does fall into place. I decided on yellow, pink, green, and purple for this flower.  Some painters flood their entire cookie sections in white and work from there.  I’ve done this, however, typically, I like to flood a couple of colors to help me along with the design process and save some time during the painting stage.  I started with the yellow, added the green and then flooded the rest in white.

First, I flooded some bright golden yellow.
First, I flooded some bright golden yellow.
Then, I added the green for the petals
Then, I added the green for the petals
Finally, I flooded the rest of the flower in white
Finally, I flooded the rest of the flower in white

I then let the entire cookie dry overnight.  I find I need to have a really hard shell on the cookie prior to painting.  The painting process adds some water to the icing so a harder shells helps when you start to blend colors.

PAINTING

Okay, next step…PAINTING!!

My first thought when I start to paint is “How Can I Add Dimension?” I like to add a darker color to the outside edges of each section so they start to stand out on their own.  Once you start this process, you get an overall idea of the color balance of the cookie. I knew I wanted yellow, pink, purple, and green and I wanted your eye to move around the cookie when it was done.  For me, the best way to balance each color is to have symmetry; yellow opposite yellow, pink opposite pink, etc. and that’s how I started to paint the colors within each section.

Adding Dimension
Adding Dimension
First Layer of color completed
First Layer of color completed

Now, I want to mention something here at this stage because it is something that happens to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I get to this stage. Without exception, I am ready to throw the cookie out at this point and start all over.  It’s true.  I think, I like the overall dimension I’ve added, and I like the colors I’ve used, but, something, something makes me doubt the overall outcome of the cookie at this point. STOP!!! DON’T THROW THAT COOKIE OUT! Just stay with it through to the end and I promise you it will work out! Painting on cookies is very forgiving in that you can make changes late in the game and still come out with something wonderful. So, talk yourself out of doing something drastic at this point.

Moving on the the decorating. I started with the yellow sections as I knew I wanted to keep them light. So I used white Wilton food color and a Number 2 brush to paint in this swirly design over one of the two yellow petals

Flower 1

On the second yellow petal, I painted a circle design. Keeping with the balanced approach, I kept the overall coloring light and added some orange dots to the middle of each circle.  Where do I get my ideas for the patterns? It is mostly trial and error, however, when I am in a fabric store, I am always looking at the quilting squares.  Some patterns stick with me.  If looking in a fabric store isn’t your thing…Google quilt fabric and up pops millions of ideas to inspire you!

Flower2

Flower3

Once I get a couple of areas under my belt, I step back and decide if I want to add any additional dimension to the cookie through piping. With all of the other Folk Art cookies I added a lot more, but for this cookie, I really didn’t want to overdo it.  I sort of knew in the end I wanted it to be called “Confetti Flower” and would be adding a lot of dots so I restrained myself from adding to much more depth via icing.  So I added some piped elements and moved on to the rest of the painting.

Flower4

More about those added flowers and dots in a minute!! Uggh.  I then went about painting in the rest of the designs on each of the petals until I was satisfied with the overall look.

Flower6

Flower7

Now, about those flowers and dots! In hind site, I didn’t like that I added them.  I was going to wait for them to dry and then pluck them off and paint over the design but I thought I’d try and make it work. So, in the end, it’s not 100% of what I would do if I had to do it over but nothing earth shattering…it is a COOKIE after all!  I went on to paint the leaves and added dots around the edge of the cookie.

Now, that turquoise flower in the middle.  I knew I didn’t want a design in each of the petals because I wanted it to be the “unifying” element of the cookie. I think it would have been way too much pattern if I did separate patterns on all of those petals.  So I added white and some dots and put some design onto the yellow middle sections. Then I went CRAZY with the white dots! I mean CRAZY!! I love dots on cookies anyway but this one was so much fun. And…this is the final product.

Flower 8

To give you an idea of how this process worked for another cookie, below are the pictures for “Spoiled Dog.”  With this cookie, I knew I wanted to use blues and browns for this dog prior to starting and I knew I wanted him to have an “attitude.”  I tried to accomplish that by giving him that “eye” that hopefully says it all.

Dog1Dog2Dog3Dog4
Dog5And that is how I paint my Folk Art Cookies.  It is fun so I encourage you to give it a try.  I have to say I’ve fallen in love with this technique and each time I do another painted cookie I learn something new!  You probably have most of what you need to accomplish this: royal icing, gel colors, small paintbrushes.  If you are just buying paintbrushes, I’ve used number 1 and number 2 brushes and a small square brush on all of these cookies.  ALSO, you can accomplish a lot of this with food writers so try those as well. I think my next Folk Art cookie will be the giant heart cutter I have!! I’ll share with you when I’m done with it!  😉

All the best Cookie Lovers,

Diane

“Hey, Where Did You Get That Cutter?”

Hello Fellow Cookie Lovers,

Last post I showed you how I utilized the Flag Cutter to make Spring Birds. It was a total fluke that I picked up the cutter upside down and thought it was a Bird Cutter I forgot about- nope, it was the flag. I just ran with this lucky find as I love to explore new ways to use cutters. Sometimes it is so obvious what a cutter can double as, other times, not so much.

So, in this post, I thought I would share with you the other, “not so obvious” things I use as cutters or molds for cookies.  If you have been doing cookies for awhile, I’m betting you have over 100 cutters in your baking arsenal.  I am also betting you scour the cookie cutter websites looking for unique and new cutters.  I do that as well.  I especially like the unique cutters at Whisked Away Cutters, and you will find some of your favorite Cookiers doing designs for them as well (Sugarbelle’s, LilaLoa).

But, sometimes you just don’t find anything new or exciting. You can always design and have your own cutters made; something I haven’t done yet, and, I am not even close to doing! 🙂 So where do you look? What do you look for? Some of these suggestions might be new to you and open you up to a new world of cookie designs. I haven’t used all of the molds/cutters shown here so I have only a couple of cookies to share, but I think it is worth sharing the ideas with you so you can get started on your own collection.  Happy hunting!

Pancake Molds

I happen to love oversized molds.  I don’t find many of them – not even online.  And when I do, they are a fortune! One day, I was shopping, I think I was in Target, and I saw this cute pancake mold; the kind that are black and have a small handle sticking up…you know the ones, right? And I knew right away it would work as a cookie cutter! I was so excited that this new venue opened up to me I now kept my eyes open for other designs in the pancake mold world.  They tend to be cheaper than oversized, and sometimes even regular sized, cutters. But, hold on to your seats for this one…I find them in Thrift Stores ALL THE TIME! Can you imagine someone donating these gems? So glad they do, by the way.  Below are some of the Pancake Molds I have in my inventory; most of them were found in Thrift Stores! And, they cost no more than $1 to $2 a piece!!! I know, you had to sit down didn’t you?  So excited to share that one with you.

Pancake Molds
Pancake Molds
Heart Pancake Mold - I tend to use this Pancake Mold the most.
Heart Pancake Mold – I tend to use this Pancake Mold the most.

I haven’t used all of the pancake molds as cookie cutters yet but since most of them are oversized, I have been using them to create a Folk Art Cookie Collection.  The larger cutters work well because it allows me to explore different shapes and textures as well as my “painting on cookies” techniques. Below are two of the large pancake molds I used recently.

Turtle Love
Turtle Love
Calico Cat
Calico Cat

Children’s Playdough Cutters

My niece was going through her toys last year and deciding which ones to donate (her Mom may have helped 😉 ). She had a bag full of these plastic, tiny, playdough cutters and the bell in my head went off!  MINIS!!! So I confiscated them before they hit the Thrift Store – I was probably going to find them at the Thrift Store the following week anyway!  I then set out to incorporate them into my designs. Don’t discount these little cutters, they are great for adding elements to your larger cookies or use them as minis.  I’ve used the mini trees, stocking, stars, flowers, people, etc. to trim my larger Christmas Tree Cookies and Wreath Cookies.  You can use the people and trees for your Gingerbread Wonderlands, the ideas are endless.

Kids Playdough Cutters
Children’s Playdough Cutters

Super Mini Cutters

Another surprise I came upon while shopping in Joanne’s Craft Store were these super mini cutters. I was wandering down the clay aisle and found an entire section of super mini cutters that clay designers use. They are really tiny (1/4″ – 1/2″) and I’ve recently started using them along with my minis in gift sets and they are so cute for little kids all boxed up.  Bite sized little sweet treats!  I think you will love these.  They look like they wouldn’t bake up big enough to do anything with, but, trust me, they do!  I haven’t even used them in all of the ways I am thinking of using them yet, but I am excited to use them on some new designs I am working on.

Super Mini Cutters
Super Mini Cutters

Cake Pans

I don’t find these treasures as often, and they are a bit more work to use, but every now and then (yep, in the Thrift Store!) I find one shallow enough to use with my cookie dough.  One of the pans below is a seashell pan that I used to make my 3-D shell cookies (to be posted to my website soon!). it was so much fun and fairly easy.  I simply cut a circle larger than the opening to the pan and then gently nudged it into place so that the design was imprinted on the dough.  I cooked it as if I were baking it on a flat cookie tray, same amount of time. The only thing I did differently was, halfway through the baking, I took a teaspoon and pressed the dough down in the middle and sides of the each shell.  It didn’t puff up like a cake but it did puff up a bit thicker than it would have if baked flat on a tray.  they popped out easily once “fully” cooled.  The other pan pictured below is one I received as a Christmas Gift – haven’t tried it yet. But I will soon! And don’t forget to look at some of the Whoopie Pie Molds; some are shallow enough to make great designs you can use in 3-D designs.

Baking Pan Molds
Baking Pan Molds

Bread Cutters/Molds

I typically find these cutters/molds with a middle section that is intended to cut the sandwich in half while it also cuts the outer edge of the bread with the design. Sometimes I take a serrated knife and cut through the middle, and carefully snap each side to remove it. I then use it to cut cookies from.  Some of the designs are cute, others, not so ingenious. I only pick them up if it is something different and something I couldn’t easily replicate with a regular cookie cutter.  To be honest with you, I have no idea what the green cutter below is!!!  But, I see an elephant, or two cats. We’ll see what it turns out to be!

Bread Cutter Molds
Bread Cutter Molds

Silicone Molds

Okay, I have to be totally honest, I am including this in here because Julia Usher designs a lot of her 3-D work with embellishments made with silicone molds.  I have tried them without much success.  I don’t think it is the molds, I truly think it is me.  Most of the effect I can get with a mold I can replicate (to a certain degree!) with Royal Icing on a mini cookie. Not a lot of the really fancy ones, but enough not to be too impressed with using the molds.  But, having said that, I encourage you to try it out for yourself.  As for the molds, I looked high and low for silicone molds that said you could bake in them to no avail.   After researching this, and querying other Cookiers, I found most of the silicone molds are heat resistant up to 500 degrees. So, where can you find them? Obviously on websites; I don’t have one special one, I just Google it. Second, craft stores such as Michael’s, AC Moore, Joanne’s Crafts. Now, when you shop at the craft stores, don’t limit yourself to the baking aisle. You will, also find them in the fondant section but wander over to the Mod Podge section (yes, they have an entire section – who knew?) and look at their mini silicone molds.  Usually a bit cheaper and I like the small designs better.  Unfortunately, this is not an item I have found in thrift stores, lol!, but I don’t buy them without my 50% off coupon for the craft stores!! The only way to go if you want to experiment.  In the picture below, the orange mini molds are from Mod Podge and the larger ivory-colored mold is a Wilton fondant mold.

Silicone Molds
Silicone Molds

I’m happy to share these cookie cutter ideas with you and hope they help your creativity and inspire you in new and different ways.  Have fun and explore. In the meantime, i am keeping my eyes open for new and interesting cookie cutters.

All the best,

Diane

Spring Birds

Hello Fellow Cookie Lovers,

You may have noticed that I love to find different uses for cookie cutters.  Well this particular post is no exception.  And…it came about by accident!  Love when that happens.  I was going through my “Misc” cutter box the other day, searching for a particular cutter and I picked this cutter up and thought, “where did I get this from?”  Then I realized, it was the “Flag” cookie cutter.  But, that is not what I saw.  So here is how it all started and where it ended up.

This is what the cookie cutter looks like when it is viewed in the ordinary position.

Flag Cookie Cutter
Flag Cookie Cutter

But…here is what I saw.  Do you see what I see?

It's a Bird Cutter!
It’s a Bird Cutter!

It looks like a bird, right?   I was so excited and I thought, let me give this a try. So, I cut out a couple of cookies, baked them up and started to decorate. This picture shows you the same cookie but simply turned in a different way (pre-baked).

Flag Cookie  and Bird Cookie
Flag Cookie and Bird Cookie

Here is how the cookies baked up.

Baked Bird Cookies
Baked Bird Cookies

And, as a side note, you can always flip the cookie over (pre-baked; my picture is post-bake 😉 ) and you could have “Love Birds” for Valentine’s Day!  I opted NOT to do another Valentine’s Day cookie, thank you very much! But for those of you who are still baking up some “love,” go for it.

Love Birds
Love Birds

I started by outlining of the major areas to be flooded: Bird’s body, feet, tail feathers.  

Outline the body of the bird
Outline the body of the bird
Add in the bird feet
Add in the bird feet
Outline a shape for the Bird's tail
Outline a shape for the Bird’s tail
Second part of the Bird's tail
Second part of the Bird’s tail

Next, I flooded the outlined areas.

Flood the bird's body
Flood the bird’s body
Flood the first color of the tail
Flood the first color of the tail
After the first color sets up, flood the second part of the Bird's tail
After the first color sets up, flood the second part of the Bird’s tail
Let it dry - 24 hours is ideal but several hours will work if you're impatient!
Flood the Bird’s feet and let it dry – 24 hours is ideal but several hours will work if you’re impatient!

Once dry, I then went ahead and drew in the eye, beak, and wing of the Bird.  Sometimes I skip this step and start the outline with my Royal Icing but, for instruction purposes, it helps to see where we are going with this.

Using a food marker, I quickly outline the Bird's eye, beak and wing.
Using a food marker, I quickly outline the Bird’s eye, beak and wing.

Same outlining process as before, outline the second layer of details and flood each area. On the wing I did a wet-on-wet technique to add the white dots.

Once the outline sets up a bit (10 minutes), go ahead and flood the second layer of details.
Once the outline sets up a bit (10 minutes), go ahead and flood the second layer of details.

Once the second layer dries for about ten minutes, I add the circle to the middle of the flower shape; which will be the Bird’s eye.

Add a circle of icing to the middle of the flower which becomes the eye of the Bird.
Add a circle of icing to the middle of the flower which becomes the eye of the Bird.

Drying time…again! I know, I’m impatient as well!  But once that is done (4-24 hours), I go ahead and add the fun details.

At this stage, outline the beak, add a black dot to the eye of the Bird, outline the flower/eye with tiny brown dots, and finally, outline the wing and tail feathers with small white dots.
At this stage, outline the beak, add a black dot to the eye of the Bird, and finally, outline the wing and tail feathers with small white dots.

At this point you can consider the Bird done, however, since I am practicing my “painting on cookies” skills, I went ahead and added some additional fine details to cozy it up a bit. And, wha-la, final version of my FLAG/BIRD cookie.  Fun!!

I added the outline to the beak, the black eyeball, dots around the wing and tail feathers, and brown dots around the flower/eye of the Bird.
I went ahead and painted some fine lines on the flower/eye and added a bit of dark brown shadow to the Bird’s feet. I also painted in some fine lines on the tail feathers, and I panted a dashed line to outline the Bird’s body. I went back with some brown Royal Icing (outlining consistency) and added some tiny brown dots around the flower/eye.

Below is a list of what you need to complete this project but experiment with your own style too!  Use colors you love, try the “Love Birds”, try out a different tail, or you can even place the bird on a branch instead of adding a long tail.  Have fun.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

Gel Colors: Cornflower Blue, Brown, Moss Green, Orange, Golden Yellow, Black

Royal Icing Flood: Cornflower Blue, Brown, Moss Green, Orange, Golden Yellow

Royal Icing Outlining: White, Black, Brown

Flag Cookie Cutter

Number 1 Decorating Tip

Cookie Dough (flavor of your choice!)

All the best,

Diane

Welcome to Cookie Celebration’s Blog

Dear Fellow Cookie Lover,

I’m so excited to be able to share this blog with each of you and look forward to embarking on a journey of inspiration, instruction, learning and honing the craft of Royal Icing Cookies.  There are many topics scheduled over the next several weeks and I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful in your own quest to create personalized cookies that look great and taste great!  This forum will focus on what I am currently working on, some tutorials on how to recreate some of my favorite cookies, how to find your own inspiration, other websites that inspire me (and I am sure will inspire you as well), and much more.  I hope you will join me in growing the site by providing feedback, ideas, and questions about topics you would like to see addressed.  Several other generous Bloggers have helped me create better cookies, create my own designs, learn tips and tricks to speed up the process and/or save you time, and much more.  Let this be one more resource you have at your fingertips…the more the merrier.  We all have to start somewhere.

Football, Football Favors, Football Cookies, Football Player, Cheerleader Cookie, Footballs, Football Helmet
Football Cookies 2014

Look for my FIRST TUTORIAL on how to create some of the Football Season cookies pictured above.  You might just find yourself inspired enough to create a batch for SUPERBOWL 2015!!  See you soon.

All the best,

Diane