The Artist and The Canvas -- Jill Wettstein (GO BO!)

Cookies are more than just butter and sugar (and obviously eggs and flour.)  It's the way they are put together.  A beautiful card is more than the paper and ink used to create it.  Cakes and breads and crafts and homes and even people are more than the things that make them up.

They are art. WE are art.

And if I remember anything from 4th grade art appreciation (besides the unhappy outcome of mixing slanted desks, an open jar of paint, and a brand new dress) it is that art should be ENJOYED. And it should be appreciated and explored and apparently it should also serve as material for pop quizzes.

I don't know about you all, but where cookies are concerned, I'm super good at the ENJOYING THEM part. I love making them and eating them and giving them away and looking at them and talking about them and thinking about them and drawing them and dreaming about them. I'm also especially skilled at the APPRECIATING THEM part. I have selflessly given up many hours of my day and late nights, and wee mornings just to appreciate those cookies and the people that make them. So let's just move on to the EXPLORING THEM part, shall we?

This has been building for kind of a while, and I'm SUPER excited to share it with you today. It's a new feature on my blog!! It's this real thing that I'm going to do where I find super talented people that I love and adore and would live with if I ever got the chance and also if it wouldn't be creepy-weird or anything like that. And then I'm going to stalk them and send them countless emails and messages and probably stay up later than is healthy (once again) sorting through all their fabulous works of art just so I can bring them TO YOU!! 

(I warned you.)

Name the Cookie Artist that made each of these cookies and the period of art in which they were created. (I'm just kidding about the last part.)

Jill is one of my favoritest Cookie Artists in the whole wide world. She creates STUNNING cookies that make me happy every single time with fabulous designs that are impeccably created AND on top of all of that, she is THE definition of sweet and sassy. (Sassy meaning a fun, spicy personality thing, and not some weird orange pants kind of thing. Seriously-- Jill is the best.)

Let me tell you a little bit about Jill. She was born, raised, and is still currently living in Wisconsin. I have been, and probably always will be, a Cheesehead.  (That's Jill saying that. I've never actually been to Wisconsin.) (Great. Now I've just ruined my chance at BFF with Jill.) She has brothers and sisters and kids and grand-kids. And she adores all of them. You know, because she's sweet and loving like that.

Jill is a cookie non-seller. She is the owner of a page layout and document design company. (It totally makes sense, right? She's basically fantastic at everything.) So what does she do with all of her masterpieces? Cookie-ing is a way for me to pay it forward one sweet treat at a time. She got into cookies in 2009 and pretty much hit the ground running. I asked her what got her started (I told you I'm nosy.) and she said -- Empty. Nest. Syndrome. I haven't experienced this thing that Jill talks of, but apparently it's like radiation and it enhances your natural talents to the point of super hero status. I can't wait. 

If you don't know Jill and her creations, you should. And if you DO know Jill and her creations, you know that her style is dominated by sharp black outlines, bright colors and fun detailed piping (her favorite part) that pulls everything together. When questioned under bright lights, Jill admitted that --  My design ideas and style are undeniably influenced by my childhood love of coloring and coloring books. I still swoon over the smell of crayons. And then since flattery will get you everywhere (or because she's an absolute peach) she handed over this bit of advice to new decorators -- Two words: heater fan. Immediately after flooding the cookie with royal icing, place it near a heater fan until the royal icing crusts over and the icing gets a nice sheen (about 10 minutes). Totally helps reduce the chance of craters and bleeding.

And in case you were wondering what Jill does on New Year's Eve (I know I was. That's why I asked.) -- We are simple people (that sounds better than boring, right?) — nice dinner out with the in-laws and then home to slip into jammies, toast the new year and in bed by 10:00 pm.

Actually, I'm willing to bet that the question you all are wondering is -- HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU COME UP WITH THESE FANTASTIC DESIGNS?? Or in other words -- How can I be more like you? You guys, we are the luckiest people on earth, because Jill is sharing her secret!! Right here. RIGHT NOW!!

Cookie Doodling

Some people are fabulous cookie bakers and others are uber talented cookie artists; I consider myself a silly, little cookie doodler. I really dig the simplicity of stick people drawings but struggled with proportion and poses ... until I discovered the beauty of vellum ...

Take a picture of someone, or a group of people, in the pose you want to duplicate. For this example, I had my adorable grandsons hold signs for an extraordinary boy named Bo. You will need vellum paper, a pencil, an eraser (you may not need one, but I always do), and a marker.

Place a sheet of vellum over the picture and roughly outline the basic "pose" of the people in pencil. You do not need a lot of detail; you are just trying to get a rough, cartoony version. 

After you are satisfied with your pencil version, trace over it with a marker.

Your final version will look something like this. See how easy-peasy it is to figure out proportion and pose by simply tracing? No extreme artistic talent required!

Place your vellum drawings on a piece of white paper and scan into your computer. 

Scale your scanned drawings to the size you want your cookies and print on cardstock. Find a background that "tells your story." Cut out the scanned drawings and use as a template to hand-cut your cookies. (Yeah, yeah, I know, hand-cutting is a pain, but well worth it in the end.)

Flood the cookies in white.

Airbrush the cookies to roughly mimic the background picture.

Using a Kopy Kake, outline the people using very thick consistency royal icing and a 1.5 PME tip. Let the outline piping dry overnight and flood the next day. Let the flood layer dry completely and add detail. 

Ta-da... GO BO!!

There is something else you should know about Jill. She's quite shy and has an awful case of humility. She probably never would have agreed to this post if it wasn't for the message she has to share. It's about Bo. I've never met him, but in the last two weeks, he has dominated my life. He is courageous and good and caring and he wants a chance to give to others. Jill (and most of Door County Wisconsin) is doing everything they can to support this amazing young man. She's helping organize a giant bake sale at Fall Fest to raise money for Bo. He wants to give back to those who helped and took care of him, and make life better for others suffering from cancer.

Jill says -- While battling an extremely rare form of leukemia and spending a year in the hospital, 13-year-old Bo Johnson has come home to Sister Bay, Wisconsin to teach us how to live. Bo's message is simple: “Love each other, help each other, have your neighbor's back. If you see someone in need — even a stranger — reach out and help. This world can be a better place if we care and help each other.”

To read more about this amazing boy CLICK HERE. (If you do nothing else this weekend -- READ THIS.)
To "voice" your support CLICK HERE to join his Facebook page. 

To donate :
GO BO! FUND -- The Pay Forward Forever Wish
Associated Bank of Sister Bay
P.O. Box 507
Sister Bay, WI 54234


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