Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Day Twelve: My Most Favorite Decorating Tool is….. oh and an Announcement!

Welcome 2014!!! What a year it has been. I am truly blessed to have found this outlet for my artwork as well as the many possibilities that lay ahead.

But I can't forget about Day 12 of my favorite things!! So what is my all time favorite decorating tool?


Drum roll please… 


THE KOPYKAKE PROJECTOR!!! 

So, if you have tried it, I'm almost pretty sure you are in LOVE with it as much as I am!!

Do you NEED one, well…no, but it sure makes life a lot easier and faster when decorating.  Many decorators do not have a kopykake or similar projector and still produce beautiful works of cookie art. 
(Links to these artists will be at the bottom)

I didn't get a projector until I had been decorating for a year. To say it changed my life, is putting it mildly. Even though you are "tracing" images, whether they are your own or not, or lettering, you are still learning in the process. Your work takes on a "new life." 

Using this projector does take a tad bit of getting used to, as far as where to place your hand when piping, but it all comes in time. Soon you will be a pro and be declaring your love for the KK as I do today!!!

I have the KopyKake 300XK. It can be found online:


            *** NOW FOR THE ANNOUNCEMENT ***


So, once you have a KopyKake, where to find those images to use???? Most digital clipart comes with an additional fee and many stipulations as to what you can use it for and even where you can sell these items.

This is where I come in. I am so excited to announce that Cookies with Character has decided to branch off into a ClipArt Production shop, called DRAWN with Character! 

In this shop I will sell both Black and White images, geared to those of us who decorate cookies, as well as Full Color images for all your clip art and scrapbooking needs! Each file you purchase will come with:
1- JPEG
1- PNG with entire clear image
1- PNG with just transparent background
1- Kopykake image

Most clip art sites do not include this last image size. It really isn't a big deal if you don't mind resizing your images. But, if you are looking for an image ready to go, I have it. All the images labeled KK will be formatted to fit on a cookie sized anywhere from 2-5 inches. Download, print and ready to go!!

Along with this price and zip file(s), comes a Small Commercial License. This license allows you to use my artwork in items for resale, as long as they are under 100 in quantity! If you wish to produce more than 100 items, a Mass Production License can be purchased for a fee. *** It really is a small price to pay, but please support the artist and don't "borrow" artwork from the internet without permission or license.***

Right now there is an end of the season sale. Spend $12 and get $3 off. That is the like getting one clip art free!

Just enter promo code SHOP2014 at checkout. Sale ends January 4, 2014.



**********************

Stay tuned for the tutorial on how I made this little guy, with Clip Art Available in the Etsy Shop, Drawn with Character!



I just want to make mention that you don't always need a projector to produce these types of cookies. You can most certainly use other methods such as creating a stencil, cutting the artwork out by pieces or using tracing paper. These projectors just make it easier and quicker.

The Bearfoot Baker has a great post on the paper cut out method HERE.
SweetAmbs shows how simple it is to transfer images with tissue paper HERE.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Day Eleven: Where can I buy that?

Like many of you, there are not a lot of shops locally to buy decorating supplies where I live. Well, not much selection that is. So I turned to the internet. But where do I find them and which is the best deal?

I thought I would compile an overview list of vendors for various products I use.

BAGS:
My favorite are the Clear Flat Cello Bags. I have found that having these three sizes can work for almost any cookie.
4x6
5x7
IF you like a favor bag with a lot of "poof" at the top, after you tie the ribbon. I would go with the 5x8



BOXES:
WEBSTURANT STORE


 RIBBON:

TIPS:

COOKIE CUTTERS:

* THERE ARE SO MANY COOKIE CUTTER COMPANIES. I CAN'T NAME THEM ALL. HOWEVER, THESE ARE MY GO TO PLACES WHEN IN NEED. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD ANY LINKS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

BAKING SHEETS:
SAM'S CLUB- 2/ $16 HALF SHEET PANS

PARCHMENT PAPER:

COOLING RACKS:

BUN RACKS:

GEL COLORS:
LOCAL CRAFT STORES

SCRIBE TOOLS:

STENCILS:


I hope this helps and cuts some of the legwork out for a lot of you. Freeing you up to…
 DECORATE! After all, that's the fun part, isn't it!

Happy decorating!!! :)


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Day Ten: Which cutters can't you live without?

Well, that is a hard question isn't it?! We all have done it, walked into a store, not looking for cutters, and there they are, in all their glory, a shape you JUST have to have. Ok, well maybe not. But that is what we tell ourselves. Then, for me, they jus sit there, a year later and I have never used them. 

(To my husband, if you are reading this, I have never ever done this. This is totally and utterly hypothetical. Honestly. I have used every single cutter I own.)

But what if you were stranded on a desert island with only a handful of cutters? Ok, that would never happen. What if there was a fire and you had to save only a few cutters… ok that won't work either. Just please save your kids first. 

If I only could have 5 cutters what would they be? 

Now this goes without saying, but the FOX RUN DOUBLE SIDED ROUND COOKIE CUTTER SET, would definitely be a must have. I blogged about it on Day ONE, HERE.

But I would say,
DEFINITELY PLAQUES!

These by far are my favorite cutters. I think I could make cookies years with nothing but plaques. They are extremely versitile. 

They can be used to put a character on, 




A Birthday message 



Or just a simple Monogram.



I used a few plaques in this bridal set.


I am lucky enough to have these plaques from CopperGifts.com




Then Karen's Cookies came out with a few of their plaque cutters.



So is that enough to add to that last minute Christmas list? I hope so. 

Thanks for stopping by!!!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day NINE: We're talking Color!


Food colors. When decorating, having the right color can either make or break a design and… well,  a cookie artist! Colors that bleed, colors that taste bad, blotchy colors…. its all a decorating nightmare. 

While I have only been decorating for a little over 3 years, I feel as though I have learned a lot. Considering where I started. Mostly due to generous bloggers and of course, trial and error. But here are some of the essentials am so grateful to have learned. 

How to get the perfect Red, that doesn't make you throw up:


These are the few and only Gel Colors I ever use:

Wilton- No Taste Red
Americolor- Tulip Red
Americolor- Super Red (Sparingly. This is one that can cause the bitter taste)

This is how I made my red.
Start with Americolor Tulip Red. This will give you an OrangeRed. I then add a very small amount of SuperRed. Now this is the color that will make your icing bitter so don't add too much. Just enough to pull it from the orange side to the red side. I then add a touch of Warm Brown. HOWEVER, the key to best color is letting it sit. About a few hours or best, overnight.

You will notice it go from an orange red….

 


To a bright red. I think I went a bit to far here. But at least it shows you how much it can change in just a bit of time.



The same goes for black icing. I usually mix my black to a dark Charcoal and let it sit.


In a short amount of time a nice deep dark black will form. 



Another tip is to add Cocoa to your Red and Black Icing. This is a tip I learned from LilaLoa. You can find the post on her blog HERE.



Americolor Color Gels are what I use on a daily basis for both mixing into icing and painting for on cookies.



 I do have and use some Wiltons. For example the Wilton Cornflower blue is one of my favs as well as their Rose Petal. I have not had much luck with the Americolor Pinks- but then again- mixing color is not my strong suit. 

You can find a fantastic color chart here on Sweet SugarBelle's Blog. Both Callye, aka SugarBelle and Georganne of Lila Loa are TREMENDOUS color genius'! 


What about Food Color Markers?

I Love my food color markers. For both adding those little details to iced cookies




or for drawing on a plain cookie. 



These particular Food Doodlers are fantastic because of their fine point. Usually when I use markers it calls  for a fine point and these work out perfectly!!!


FOOD DOODLERS can be purchased HERE.

AMERICOLOR FOOD GELS can be purchased here on AMAZON in various colors and sets.
They can also be purchased here on Karen's Cookies.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day Eight: My Favorite Tools of the Trade: Part Two

1. Microplane Zester/Grater


Uneven cookies? A square that turns into a triangle? Just file it down. Most everyone now a days has a zester or microplaner of some kind. This is what I use on my baked cookies that just need a little "fine tuning." Jill of JILL FCS has a great little write up on it HERE.


The best thing about this little microplane is that it's narrow enough to get into small spaces. 



If I didn't have a microplane, these cookies would have NEVER lined up. And even now that I look at them, I should have done't shaved off a bit more!



2. Bench Scraper for Bumpy Cookies

Are you cookies a little bumpy when they come out of the oven? 


I use my bench scraper on warm cookies to flatten them out. While the cookies are still warm, run your bench scrapper, fondant smoother or even a flat spatula over it. I like that my bench scraper is metal and heats up a little. I think it may help with the smoothing. Or it's all in my little mind...


Just place onto and run it over, side to side a few times. You have to work quickly before they cool down.


See, nice and smooth. I hope you can see. :) This REALLY helps when you are flooding a cookie and you don't want the icing to fall off the sides. 

This is my bench scrapper. You can purchase it HERE.


The Bearfoot Baker also has a great blog post about it HERE!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Day Seven: My Favorite Tools of the Trade: Part One


Just a quick post tonight with a few of my decorating tools. First up, my favorite rolling pin.



Joseph Joseph Adjustable Rolling Pin Plus, 16.5-Inch, Grey
From Joseph Joseph


I have used a french rolling pin, a standard wooden rolling pin, and even a teflon rolling pin. This adjustable rolling pin has become "MY" rolling pin of choice!
With this, you can never roll dough any thinner than a desired amount. The pin comes with 1/16, 1/6, 1/4, and 3/8 inch removable discs.  I roll my cookies at 1/4" thickness. Not too thin but thick enough to make them a little soft and chewy. 
This rolling pin can be purchased HERE.

*this is one of the only pictures of my cookies from the side*


Now on to icing. HOW do I spread out icing or pop those dreaded bubbles? With these little tools:


ONE of the 11-Piece Pottery Tool Set


This little guy came in a set of pottery tools that I purchased for my daughter. When I saw it was just what I needed.  I use it to spread icing to the edges of piping and even popping bubbles. It is longer like a pencil and I personally think that is why I feel more comfortable with it than a tooth pick.


* Note: Do not use any tools that are being used or have ever been used on anything other than food related products. I solely use this for my cookie decorating. Please no silly emails. ;)
The set that this comes in can be purchased online HERE.




But if its a good bubble popper you are looking for, this is it.

PME Modelling Tool: Scriber Needle



This, almost needle point scribe is by far my must have while decorating. From popping bubbles, to moving those small-out-of-place icing strands, to cleaning up my lettering, I can't live without my scribe!



*Trust me, I would not have been able to do this intricate lace without my trusty scribe!*


Thanks for stoping by ~Krista

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Day Six: Bags or Bottles??

When cookie decorating, what do you use, bags or bottles?

I am pretty much a two consistency girl. 

1. Piping Icing 2. Flood Icing and if I am feeling adventurous, I use a stiffer consistency than piping icing, for dimension items such as leaves or rope borders.

 I use bags for all my piping icing and bottles for all my flood. I just find it easier to put flood in bottle than in a bag. Vise versa for the piping icing. 



You can purchase these wherever Wilton products are sold or:

I prefer these bottles over others because of how soft they are. The soft plastic makes it so much easier on your hand when decorating a lot of cookies.


Now, if I had ton of money to throw at decorating, I would replace all my bottles with these beauties:

Kuhn Rikon Deco squirt Bottles:
I have one cherished red top Kuhn bottle. Sigh. The great things about these are they're larger than normal openings and the coupler allows you to change out the tips. For when you need to flood in tight spaces, that the tips on the regular bottles would be too small for. 

All tips, Wilton, Ateco and PME's fit on these. They're also very soft like the Wiltons bottles.


These can be purchased at:

Ok, as far as bags. I use the reusable ones. Not too much to tell there. They all seem to be the same. I wash them and reuse. However since I do use the Saran Wrap Icing Pod trick by Karen from Karen's Cookies, I don't think I have bought bags all year. 

These are my little pods. I love seeing the colors all lines up and ready. ahhhhh….


You can find Karen's Video HERE.
Also, SugarBelle has a great post on how she uses Press n' Seal for her icing pods.
You can find her post HERE.

Lastly, here is my little trick. I use IKEA CHIP CLIPS instead of those Wilton icing bag rubber bands. I do have them and use them here and there. But I tend to break them too quickly! So, these smaller IKEA clips are by far my favorite. As I use up the icing and need to squish it down and make a tighter seal, its super easy and quick with these little guys. 


If I do have a different consistency in a bag, I write on the side of the clip with a dry erase marker and wipe it off after each use. Now if you don't have an IKEA close by, you can find them online HERE.


Happy Cookie Making! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day Five: The Best Piping Tips Around

And by BEST I mean, if we were talking cars these would be a Porsche. PME Tips that is. 

When I started decorating, I never knew there was anything other than Wilton tips. Wilton tips are great and I still use them for anything like a 2 or above. However when it comes to writing, I INSIST on using my PME Tips. 

Besides the fact that they don't tarnish like the Wilton tips, PME tips are made without a seam. This means there is little to no curling in your icing when it comes out. If I get a little curling that means I need to go up a size tip. But honestly that rarely happens.

Which brings me to the next reason I love PME tips. They come in half sizes. My all time favorite for lettering is the PME #1.5 tip. Sometimes, if the icing is too thin, I go down to a #1.

These were done with a #1.5





You can see and example of how I pipe letters on my cookies in this little video. 




Read more about it in this post from earlier in the year HERE.

While PME Tips are not cheap, I feel they are well worth the investment. 

PME can be purchased online at:


Give at least one a try! If I could only buy one PME tip, I would get the #1.5. Add it to your Christmas List, you won't regret it!! 


Monday, December 9, 2013

Guest Post over at Sweet SugarBelle

Have you heard of her? Sweet SugarBelle? No? Then get out from under that rock. She is not only one of the most largest and most talented cookie decorators out there but honestly the sweetest and most supportive people I know ya'll!!!! 

I had the honor of Guest Posting over at her blog yesterday. Talking about these little "big" Whimsical Reindeer cookies. I explain what cutter I used as well as a photo tutorial!



You can find the link by clicking HERE!



Day Four: Royal Icing- Have you heard about Glycerine?

Up until this time last year, I was a failure at making Royal Icing. Seriously. Take a look at these Halloween pictures from 2012. 


 I'm not sure if you can see it, but it was very poofy. Marshmallow fluff almost. It dried matte and pitted. It also tasted horrible. A dry flakey mess. My previous attempt at Royal Icing didn't even dry after 24hrs!!


 It took me a while and a little advice to try again. Thanks to Ali Bee's Bake Shop, I was able to make an almost perfect batch of royal icing for the first time in almost 2 years!!


 I was finally able to do those ruffles that I have seen and my piping became a lot crisper and prettier. It also is a lot lighter and much easier on my wrist than my previous icing. 


You can find Ali Bee's icing recipe HERE and she even has a YouTube tutorial, which you can find HERE also. If you are like me and learn visually, give it a watch. Its fantastic!



Now onto the love for GLYCERINE!

Thanks to a huge supportive and helpful group of cookiers, I was introduced to the world of GLYCERINE, in Royal Icing. Apparently this is what gives royal icing that soft bite. After numerous combinations of corn syrup to glycerine ratios, I am content with what I have found. 

There are a lot of blogs that have posted their Glycerine Royal Icing Recipe. You can find them here:
Sweet P's- Is it Royal or is it Glaze?
Sugar Kissed- Royal Icing

Basically I add 1 (generous) tsp, to my Royal Icing Recipe of 2 lbs of powdered sugar.

If you are interested in using Glycerine in your Royal Icing, please purchase the Food Grade Glycerine. You can find the Wilton brand anywhere Wilton sells their products.
Such as Amazon, Michaels, Hobby Lobby


Thanks for stopping by! Happy baking!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Day Three: Alphabet and Number Cutters

My Favorite go to Letter and Number cutters:



Ever since my first set of name cookies, I have been in love with my jug o' letters. 

This is THEM…. the big ol' jug of letters and numbers by Wilton other wise known as

I love their versatility and cute rounded edges. Since they are a tad puffy they hold up nice when then bake and rarely break. 


*Unless you think its ok to let your 5 yr old hold the box of cookies, for 30 seconds while you close the trunk of the car. Not that has happened or anything. But a few letters may break in instances like that. Just a warning. 

You can take the center holes out or leave them in while they bake. This is what I do. I find leaving them in gives the cookies more stability. If they pop out when you lift your cookie cutter, just put them back in once you have placed them on the baking sheet. Smoosh it a bit and they should bake together very well!

Anyways, I love love love these cutters. As you can tell. 


They can be baked separate and placed on a platter.



Or you can bake them together. Like the 30 in this platter.



Or you can turn the letters and numbers into anything you can imagine!





These cutters can be found HERE on Amazon for only $11.99!

Have a great day!

More to Like

More to Like