Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Camouflage Cookies - Tutorial

I made these camouflage cookies recently for my grandson's birthday. In this post I'll be showing the step by step process of how I added the camo colors to the number eight cookies.

 I won't be showing how I did the dog tags shown above, but the process is pretty much the same as with the number 8 cookies. The tags were cut out using a circle cutter that I reshaped by straightening out two sides, and a straw was used to make the hole. When it came time to decorate I outlined the center rectangle area first in the darkest color and let dry. The center was then filled in with the lightest color and left to dry. Camo colors were applied to the edge with the same wet on wet technique as I show below. The strings are edible licorice laces.

To get an idea of how I wanted the camo to look on my cookies, I traced around my number 8 cookie cutter and scanned that into my computer where I multiplied it to fit a sheet of 11"x8.5" paper.
The number cutter is from a set by Wilton.

I superimposed the eights over a camo design and printed it out for reference. This gave me a great starting point as to the scale I wanted, and showed me how to extend the colors over the surface to give a more realistic look. After about the 6th cookie I found I wasn't referring to the photo anymore.

I mixed my icing colors using the paper I printed out as a color guide, and thinned it down until it was the consistency of white glue. Thin enough to work with, but thick enough to hold it's shape while adding another color.  

Using the camo printout as a guide I started adding random shapes. I didn't let the colors dry in between adding each one because I wanted a seamless flat surface.

I just kept continuing on filling in spaces.

Almost done.

Finally finished!  These cookies were fairly easy and fast to do because I didn't have to wait for each color to dry before adding another, and the extra step at the beginning made sure the camo design wasn't too small and tedious to work with. 

Happy Decorating

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Cookie Tools

This post is about some of my cookie making tools. Some of the tools in the photo are fairly normal  cookie decorating tools, and others not your everyday conventional tools for cookies, but ones that I've found quite useful.

A look at some of my cookie tools.
1. Brushes- The large one I use to brush away crumbs before icing. It's also useful in brushing away excess decorating sugar. The middle one I use for brush embroidery, and the tiny one I use for detail painting with food color.
2. Clay sculpting tools. -I use these to scrape off icing details. (see photo below) 
3. Clay tools.- I use these to make shallow holes in dry icing for dragees when they have to be precisely placed. I can also make holes that go all the way through a finished cookie. (see photo below)
4. Tweezers. - For picking up and placing small objects on cookies. The pink one has little indentations to better hold sugar pearls or dragees, but my favorite is the angled one.
5. Acrylic stamping block. -I use this to get even pressure on cookie cutters that keeps them from flexing and distorting the shape of the cookie. It's also very helpful in keeping my hands from getting sore when pushing on the sharp edge.
6. Ceramic clay cutting tools.-I use these when I need to hand cut cookie dough. The top one is for thicker dough. The middle one and the bottom one are actually double sided and very thin allowing me to get more precise cuts.
7. Embossing tools.- I use these to scribe designs on dry icing for detail work, and they come in handy to make an indentation for dragees in fondant.

I kept this cookie, which has all kinds of bad things going for it, to show how I can remove a bad icing detail even when dry. I don't do this often, but when I don't want to waste a cookie, I'll resort to this. Most of the time the icing isn't this dry when I notice it needs to be redone. 
Note: I use royal icing, so I don't know if this technique will work on other icings.

I use this to make holes in finished cookies. I can make a shallow hole and place dragees exactly where I want them, or make a hole completely through the cookie if I forgot to add one before baking.
Note: I use royal icing, so I don't know how this will work with any other icing.

While I was taking photos of the tools I use to make cookies, I took a photo of the tools I use to photograph them when I can't use natural lighting. This photo shows 3 of the 4 utility lamps I clip to the back of my kitchen chairs to create a well lighted area in which to take my pictures. I put a 100 watt full spectrum bulb in each one. These bulbs seem to allow truer colors rather than the yellow cast of regular incandescent bulbs.
I also use them to dry icing so I can move on to the next step of my cookie decorating sooner.
The small camera tripod seen in the photo easily stands on the table and can adjust higher if needed.
I do have a light box, but hate dragging it out to shoot a couple of photos, and I find  this usually works almost as well for me. I admit there can be more shadowing than with a light box, but I'm hoping what I'm photographing is more interesting to look at than the shadows surrounding them. And my lights are being used to dry icing most of the time so they are already to go for photographing. If need be I can hold one of the lights over what I want to photograph and eliminate most of the shadows. 

Happy Decorating

Monday, March 12, 2012

Top Hat Buddy for St. Patrick's Day - Tutorial

This St. Patrick's Day design is similar to the one I made for Ecrandal's cookie cutters. The cookie cutter can be found (Here) and has many different design options that I'll show at the bottom of this post.  Today I'll show how I make a leprechaun.

I outlined the area where the hat is going to be, and filled in the band with black and let dry.

When the outline was dry I filled in the face area with flesh tone icing. I like the face better without an obvious outline, but that's just me.

Using an orange red icing I filled in the hair after the face area was completely dry.

I flooded the hat area with green icing and sprinkled green sugar on top for a little sparkle.

I added the mouth, nose, and eye outlines using a fine tip edible food marker.

I filled in the eye outline with white flood icing and dragged it into the corners with a toothpick.

With flood icing I added the buckle and let dry. I really should have used outline consistency icing, but I got lazy and used this instead. You can see it's not as sharp as it would have been had I thickened up the icing.

I used a black food marker to fill in the eye area. I decided to sharpen up the area around the buckle with black outline icing.

A drop of white icing finishes the eye, and a fine line food marker details the hair and freckles.

I added petal dust to the cheeks with a Q-tip, and this little guy is done.

Here are the original cookies I made for Ecrandal. You can easily make a patriotic buddy, or a chimney sweep, or even a magician. The hat can be changed into a cowboy hat or bowler with some creative cutting.

Happy Decorating

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fantasy Get Well Flowers

I made a quick bunch of fantasy flowers for my baby sister in Alaska using some cutters I made a couple of years ago for (these). I wasn't able to make them into an actual bouquet for her because I knew they probably wouldn't  make it there without some breakage.

These are some of the background and filler leaves. Sorry for the blurry photo, but I took these really fast so they could be sent out and didn't preview them first.

A couple more leaf sets.

Larger fantasy flower set.

2 more fantasy flowers.

Smaller filler flowers.

Here is the whole set arranged into a bouquet of sorts. I took this photo and made it into a get well card for her.  That way as she's unwrapping all the individual cookies she can look at this photo and at least get some idea of what was in my head.

Happy Decorating

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Cookie Cutter Organization

I know this has been done before, but thought I'd show how I organize my cookie cutters in hopes that it will be helpful to someone out there.
First of all I admit I don't have nearly the amount of cookie cutters that some of my cookie friends have accumulated, but I found a neat and tidy way to store them so that I can view them all easily without even opening the container. I posted it a year ago on my flickr site but thought I'd update it here as well.

Here is how I used to store my cookie cutters. Does this look familiar? I had to rummage through the whole box, or dump them out to even see what was in there.

Here is what I use now. It's a see through scrapbook case made to hold those large 12 x 12 sheets of scrapbooking paper. I admit they aren't cheap, so I buy them at Michaels or Joanne's using a 40% off coupon or wait until they come on sale.

Remember that jumbled box of cutters at the top of the page? Well here is about half of them covering the bottom of the scrapbooking case. On top of these I place a piece of poster board cut to fit inside the case. Why? So I can place another layer of cutters on top.

Here is the second layer of cookie cutters, which are all the remaining ones from the jumbled box above. Normally I use black poster board because the cutters show up better against it, but the store ran out, and these were on sale, so blue it is.
You can see where smaller cutters can be added inside larger ones.

The best part is that I can easily view my cutters through the case, and because I added the poster board to separate the layers, I can flip the case over to view the other side as well. It's so much easier now to find the cutter I need.
This is showing the black poster board in an older photo.

And here is how easily they stack. At the very top are smaller versions of the same case that I use for my mini cutters.
And that is how I store my cookie cutters.

Happy Decorating