Thursday, March 29

Stained Glass Window Cookies and an Easy Transfer Technique!

     Since I've started sharing my cookie making I've been asked several times how I draw my designs on my cookies.  Whether I do it freehand or use an art projector as a guide, etc.  I don't have money in the budget for a projector right now, so I have to do them freehand.  I'm pretty good at drawing anyway and I don't usually try anything too complex or use fancy fonts or that sort of thing.

     But then I decided I wanted to do a cookie painting project and make stained glass window cookies.  I knew I wanted them to be as intricate as they could be.  Plus which all the color is done in glazes, as opposed to opaque icing layers, so any mistakes in the drawing would show up in the final cookie.  I wracked my brain trying to figure out a way to easily transfer the design and also something that would be easy for the readers to do too.  Like all great inspiration it came to me at 2 o'clock in the morning!

And it worked. And I was happy!  I will show you how to do it and then you can be happy too!

      I began by covering the cookies in a glaze icing tinted a pale yellow.  I used glaze instead of royal icing this time because glaze has a translucent look to it and it also flattens out perfectly smooth. ( The glaze recipe is super simple; 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons corn syrup, 2 tablespoons milk.)  I tinted it pale yellow because I wanted to be able to use white in some areas and the white had to stand out from the background. I also thought it would look like a warm light coming through the window.  Let the cookies dry completely before you start decorating.  If you use glaze, better give the cookies a couple days to dry.

 Part 1 - Transferring the design to the cookie without a projector
  1. To get started you'll need your design, a small liner paint brush, gel food coloring and a piece of heavy weight clear plastic vinyl like they sell in fabric stores for tablecloth covers. 
  2. Place the vinyl over the design and trace the design onto the vinyl with your black food coloring and brush.  The food coloring will bead up a bit on the vinyl but that's okay as it's only going to be a guide.  
  3. After tracing the design flip the vinyl over and carefully position it on the cookie.
  4. Hold the vinyl in place and gently rub the design onto the entire cookie.  Be careful to always hold it in place, you don't want it to slip!
  5. Gently lift the vinyl and you'll have a guide for piping or coloring!  Easy right?!

You'll notice that the design on the cookie is the mirror image to your design because you flip the vinyl over.  If the direction of the design is important, such as in writing, your design will need to be in reverse.

Part 2 - Painting the Cookie
        Once you have the outline transfered to the cookie the painting is really just a matter of filling in each piece like a coloring book.
  1. To create a transparent effect start by filling the section with a thin glaze of color.  
  2. While the area is still wet add a little more intense color and blend with a clean brush.  (The white of the flowers is white icing color)
  3. To make a delicately tinted "glass" first glaze a section with clean water.
  4. Dab in a small amount of thinned color.
  5. Blend with a clean brush. 
  6. Finish glazing the background with soft color of varying intensity.
  7. Outline the sections in black.   At first I had planned to do this step with black piping icing but some of my designs had too much detail and I was worried the sections were too small especially since I don't have any of the little size 0 decorating tips.  I have a pretty steady hand so I finished them with the liner brush and black food coloring.

   The Easter set of cookies at the top of the post was done the same way as the floral cookies but using a little more intense color.  

   A few tips for painting stained glass window cookies;
  • Start thin and work up to strong color.  You can always add more, but it's difficult to take it away.
  • Don't over fuss the surface of the cookie with too many strokes and too much liquid.  You run the risk of breaking down the smooth sugar finish of the base coat. Try to fill each section in as few strokes as possible. Using the biggest brush you can get away with will help keep you from over fussing an area.
  • Stained glass is often a  mixture of transparent and opaque pieces of glass.  Adding a little white icing color will give a milky opaqueness but can also make it look cold and chalky.  Try adding a tiny bit of yellow to the white to warm it up.
  • Leave some areas empty like clear glass.  It will give the eye a place to rest. 
  • Dover Publications has many books on stained glass designs and their copyright allows for full use.  Many of the books also come with CD-Roms of the designs which is also very helpful.
I would love some feedback on this project, especially if you try the transfer technique.  I was wondering if food color markers would work as well, but I don't have any to try it out.

Happy Painting!


Thursday, March 22

Quick and Easy Birds in Nests cookies

    Spring is finally here!  And wouldn't you know it, while the rest of the county is getting an unexpected warm spell we have snow.  I guess if I want to see birdies in the first days of spring I'll just have to make them myself!

  Hehe, aren't they cute!  For these bird cookies I used the chick-in-an-egg cutter from this Easter set by Wilton.  This is a pretty popular set of cutters this time of year and you should still be able to find it at your local craft store.

   When cutting the cookies trim the base off the bottom of the "egg" with a knife to make the nest.  If you trim off the little beak piece too then the chick can face forward.
  Start by outlining and filling the chick in yellow royal icing.  I like to use the 20-second or 20 count icing consistency. Don't worry about shaping the bottom of the chick since you can do that in the next step.  While the icing is still wet drop in some black sprinkles or candy beads for eyes.  Let the chick dry for an hour or so.

Once the chick has dried a bit, outline and fill the nest in chocolate or brown 20-count icing.  Tuck the chick into the nest by piping the brown over the base of his body.  While the icing is still wet you can sprinkle on a little shredded coconut tinted with cocoa powder for a "nest" effect.  Let the brown icing dry for several hours or overnight.

     Once the icing is dry add details to the nests and chicks.  Since the details here don't need to be too fine or precise I used the same 20 count icings from earlier with a smaller decorating tip.
     I also made little peeking chicks by trimming off the "head" of the chick-in-an-egg cutter and using a little white icing for a shell cap.

I hope you like these little guys and are enjoying your first days of Spring!

Thursday, March 15

Bunnies, bunnies and more bunnies.

     One of the reasons I like to re-purpose my cookie cutters, other than it's so much fun, is that the cutters I want don't usually exist.  Take Easter bunnies for example.  Most bunny cookie cutters look more like they should be rabbits at a garden tea.  They are tiny, dainty little things and maybe it's just me but "tiny" and "dainty" don't do the Easter Bunny justice. 

Of course I couldn't just do one bunny I had to do 12 different ones.  Plus I thought of a few more bunnies after I was done with the cookies so I added them digitally.  I hope you don't mind!

The classic bunny face cutter is a popular Easter cookie but who says it has to be just a face?

  For full Easter bunny effect though you really need to give the bunny face a body and there are so many choices!  These cookies are made by piecing two shapes together in a similar way that I did with this Valentine set.  A tulip or an egg cutter usually come in a spring set of cutters and they make for great bodies.  If you trim a little off the egg, you can have a bunny with a basket!

     The trophy cutter makes for a great sitting bunny when paired with the bunny face.  You could also use the butterfly cookie cutter from your spring cutters but I found the trophy worked better.  Or you could turn it into a  bunny mobile!  Because everybunny needs a little transportation.

    Of course you can always piece the bunny face to a full body.  I must warn you though these are huge cookies!  A ghost cutter makes a nice dress for a girl bunny and a simple teddy bear cutter makes the perfect body for the classic standing Easter bunny.

     Speaking of teddy bears.  Most teddy bear cutters flipped upside down will make great bunnies.  Especially if their legs are all akimbo.  I think the Wilton bear is a better bunny than a bear actually.

Speaking of legs all akimbo, if you flip a gingerbread man upside down...

     Hehe, okay maybe not.  But if you ever need a bunny baby rattle cookie then I've got you covered.

     All of the cookies were made with only the two icing colors, pink and white!  To add other color here or there I just painted the cookies with a brush and food coloring because sometimes I'm lazy like that.  I figure they're Easter eggs so they're supposed to be painted right?

Maybe one day I will learn to not get so carried away by my ideas but that day is not today!  I hope you enjoyed all the bunnies!

Tuesday, March 6

Easy Pot of Gold Cupcakes and a Free Printable!

    Isn't St. Patrick's Day such a fun holiday tucked in at the end of winter?  There's no pressure, no finding the perfect gift, no re-evaluating your love life, just green food and good luck.  After making these cookies of leprechauns tossing their gold coins I thought it would be cute to make them into pot-of-gold cupcake toppers.

   To make cookies into cupcake toppers start by  "gluing" a stick to the back of each decorated cookie with super thick royal icing and let it dry.  I used craft/popsicle sticks but you could use lollipop sticks or something similar.  Cover the cupcakes with dots of yellow frosting.

   Oddly, my local craft stores don't sell black cupcake wrappers year round so I cut simple cupcake wrappers out of black paper and wrapped the decorated cupcakes to make them look like little pots.

   I also made a few rainbow royal icing transfers to put on a couple cupcakes too.

Once the icing "glue" has dried gently push the cookies into the cupcakes and you're done!

If you don't happen to have time to make cookies (gasp)  I made a printable cupcake topper for you!

click image to view and save at full size

     Save the full size image and print it out on white card stock.  Be sure to print them in landscape orientation so they'll fit on a page. Cut out the shapes and tape a sandwich pick or small lollipop stick to the back of each to turn them into a cupcake topper!

Stick them in your cupcakes and have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 2

St. Patrick's Day Cookies from a Cupcake Cutter

  A few days ago I was thinking about St Patrick's Day coming up and thought I'd do something easy and use a cupcake cutter to make rainbows.  Nice, simple, happy rainbows.  But then I saw all kinds of other things you could do with a cupcake cutter for St. Patrick's Day and I just had to make them too.

Of course you must have leprechauns and their hats can never be too big!

And the rainbows, in case you missed them;

Frothy glasses of beer....

...hmmm I'm not sure how well they work actually.  But you could always take my Christmas Latte Cookies, which were also made from a cupcake cutter, and make them into tall glasses of beer.. 

    Or just throw everything together and call it good!

    After all that the leprechauns will need a little place to rest;

And would you believe it, I still have something else planned with these!  hehehe...
Enjoy your weekend!