Saturday, October 27

Halloween Color to Die For

    If you want to make holiday cookies that have big impact but are still simple to make I have a great trick for you!  Let the color do the heavy lifting.   It's true, the easiest way to add interest to basic cookies is with unexpected color.   


    Our minds tend to gloss over things that are expected so color that is unusual will draw attention. There are many different ways you could go about choosing a fresh color scheme for your holiday cookies but for this post I want to do a little introduction on how to use the color wheel to choose colors based on their relationship to each other.  I hope to do more posts like this in the future so I'll ease into this and keep it brief.
traditional Halloween color wheel

      The locations of the traditional Halloween colors of orange, green and purple on the color wheel form what is called a triad in color theory.  A triad is three colors that are equally spaced from one another.  Black and white also play a big part in Halloween color and for this purpose I'm going to think of them as a dark neutral and a light neutral.

     To play with the Halloween color scheme I simply rotated the color wheel a bit and chose a different triad.   My final colors are not an exact triad but they are in the general ball park of blue, red and yellow.  I changed the black and white up a bit too by choosing a dark charcoal grey in place of black and a pale grey for white.   These colors are not at all traditional Halloween colors but they still work beautifully.


    All of the cookies were cut from a basic set of Halloween cookie cutters that I found on clearance last year at the grocery store and similar sets are easy to come by at craft stores and department stores too.  It's important when choosing a non-traditional color scheme to keep your shapes and icons VERY traditional so you don't lose the holiday feel.   The decorating here is also very simple.  Everything was done in easy outline and flooding and finished off with a few dots and lines for details and black sugar sprinkles.  Adding a completely unexpected color scheme gives the cookies an impact they wouldn't have otherwise.

Here are a few resources that can also help you choose a more creative color scheme;

  • ColorQ is a paper-crafting challenge blog that hosts weekly color challenges for card makers.  Their archives are a fantastic place to see different color schemes in action. 
  • Photo Card Boutique has an extensive collection of color schemes.  Pick any one and put it on a cookie!
  • Color Scheme Designer is a good place to play with a color wheel online.  You can see the different color relationships and variations in action.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 24

Wizard Cookie Puzzles

     One of my favorite parts of cookie decorating is playing around with the different shapes.  Sometimes when I see something unexpected in a cookie cutter shape I literally squeal with delight.  Lately, I've been playing with the idea of combining several cookies into a large picture like a cookie puzzle.  I've seen several cookie artists make sets like these so I had to try it.   I found inspiration from East Coast cookies, Montreal Confections and SweetSugarBelle for these cookies. 

       If I added all the detail of the boy wizards with their cauldrons on one cookie it would have been far too complicated.   By splitting the wizard into three regular sized cookies I can add detail and still have fairly basic cookies.  Plus which, a set like this would make an excellent gift box!

     It was this bat cookie cutter from the Halloween department at JoAnn fabric that started me thinking about wizard cookies because I could see it as a cloak.  I used a face cutter to trim the top of the shape and a cauldron cutter to trim the bottom so that the cookie puzzle would fit together.  Chocolate roll out cookies don't usually spread so I didn't have to worry about them not fitting together after they were baked.

    I used an ice cream cone cookie cutter to cut all of the heads and to trim the cloaks.  For the old wizard and the apprentices I lifted the point of the cone and gently curved it to the side before baking.  If the dough is cold or stiff it may crack along the curved edge, but you can smooth it back together with your fingers.

   For the cauldron cookies I used...a cauldron!  Every cookie doesn't have to be made from an unusual cutter.  Use what works!   I also used a skull cutter for some of the cauldrons because I wanted to be able to add vapor wisps and there isn't room for that on the basic cauldron.

     I wanted to make the cookies look like the wizards were peering into a glowing cauldron so I added a pale blue highlight to the underside of all the planes facing the light.  The chin, lip, bottom of the nose and the eye sockets all light up when the light is coming from below. I also added the "light" to the cloaks to hightligh the drape of the fabric. 

     What do you think does this effect work? Personally, I think it's pretty cool.  I photographed  a few of the cookies without adding the blue piping details for comparison..  I think both ways are very cute, but I like the pop the electric blue gives the cookies.

   I think the idea of the mood lighting works best when the cookie puzzles are assembled so you can get the whole idea. If these were just being arranged on a platter I might not include the dramatic light in the piping detail.


    These wizards are definitely my favorite cookies I've made to date!  From the conception to the finish I had so much fun with them.  I hope you like them too!

Saturday, October 20

Patterned Owl Cookies

     Who doesn't love owls? I mean as a design element anyway. If you had an owl living near your house you might not appreciate him much at 3:00 in the morning, but they make for pretty cookies!

    I've been looking at a lot of paper crafts lately for cookie inspiration and I wanted to do a set of cookies that had the feel of the embossed patterned papers on handmade cards.  I wanted all the attention to be on the pattern and the texture of the owls so I chose a muted color scheme.   I didn't have any specific reason for choosing owls other than I like them and I wanted to use these new cutters I found!

   I found the cutters for my fat and skinny owls in a cookie cutter set at Wal-mart.  The cutters are "supposed" to be a vintage style coin purse and a dress.  They came packaged with another dress and a shoe as part of a couture set but I immediately saw a chubby owl in the coin purse and the skinny owl wasn't far behind.   The "purse" cutter  would have been super cute for an owl cookie just as it was with the clasp becoming little feathers on his head, but I wanted the silhouettes of both the thin and fat owls to be the same so I used the bottom of the cutter to trim the top of the head.  

     The base for the cookies is fairly simple decorating.  I used a card stock template to draw the eyes so they would be even.  I then outlined and filled alternating sections in 15 count royal icing.  After letting the icing dry an hour or so I filled the next section and then let the entire cookie dry overnight before adding the beak and the piping lines.    

     At this point you could make the cookies as simple or as fancy as you like.  They look good with just a few lines outlining the wings and head or you can add lot of detail which is what I was going for.

  I suppose doing this much piping takes some time but it isn't difficult.   It all breaks down to just dots and lines.  I had originally planned to add little orange feet to all the owls as well, but after I had all the lines piped I was worried those pesky icing craters would become a problem due to all the little creases.  I didn't feel the need to push my luck so I left them as they were.

   Enjoy your weekend everyone!