Cookie Inspiration -- Guest Post -- The Cookie Architect

I think I might have been in love with the cookies coming out of The Cookie Architect's kitchen from the very first second I saw them. I love her colors and her unusual patterns and designs. And then, I discovered that Rebecca is just as fantastic as her cookies. I love the way she thinks  and creates both in real life and in cookie life. And you know what is even better? She TOTALLY gave in to peer pressure (can one person be peer pressure?) and agreed to let you in on her brain secrets today!


First of all, how great is this? I find myself in one of the coolest places in the blogosphere!  This blog is amazing, and Georganne is so pivotal in my cookie art experience that I could not be more honored to be here on Lilaloa. What I want to talk with you guys about today is Inspiration and Design.  What can I say? As an architect, I am a designer first and foremost.  I love the process of cookie design, and enough people have asked me about it that I am hoping that two or three people will find this interesting.

Here’s where this set started….with an image a friend of mine posted to Facebook a long time ago, that I pinned to my idea board on Pinterest, waiting for an excuse to make some cookies.   Well, then I found out that I knew a couple of cookiers that were expecting, and I hatched a plan to make them a few baby shower cookies with this image as the starting place.  The best part though, was when right before I started, my friend who posted the image in the first place told me that she was expecting too! 

So now I have a cookie project- three baby sets- and a single image.  This image is the seed of my design. Not all of my projects start with an image. Some start with a place, a color scheme, or even a feeling or technique I want to explore.  For me, that seed or central idea of the design is critical.  If I get stuck later in the decision making process, I bring the central idea back to mind and that points me in the right direction again.   Let me also say that for a lot of cookiers, your starting place is going to be an invitation, or a TV show, or some other direction from your client, and these are all totally valid starting places for the creative process. Not all art springs unbidden from the soul, though obviously it is great when it does!

For me, the next step is always heading to Pinterest.  Others may start with sketching, or just start rolling their dough, but I am more of a collage artist, and I like a good inspiration board.  Pinterest can be overwhelming, so I wouldn’t just dive into the stream of images. For me, I first go through my own boards looking for things that might work.  I have cookie idea boards, seasonal boards, color and texture boards, and cool cookie boards- all great resources for me when I start a project.  And you don’t have to have all those boards- you can use mine, or some of the many other cookiers who are maintaining boards with tons of cookies and cookie ideas on them. 
After I look at my own collections, I do a search.  I usually start pretty specific to what I am thinking, and then do various broader searches.  So for this set, I started with “giraffe baby shower cookies”. Then maybe “baby shower cookies”, “giraffe graphics”, “baby giraffes”, “simple giraffe art”, etc…  While I start my searches specific so I can see what’s been done before and what is out there to do, I always start with a kind of brainstorming approach to the pinning itself.  Pin whatever appeals to you! At this stage, it doesn’t have to be something that is going straight to cookie form.  It can be something that helps you pick a color, or a pattern.  Pinterest is great because when you find something you like, it links not only to the source, but to lots of other boards made by people who also liked it, so you can follow some of those threads and find great stuff that way too.   Just get a collection going.

I start this part early.  I find that if you can get a board going as soon as the project comes on your radar, it gets the creative part of your mind thinking “behind the scenes”, and you have a place to pin those ideas as they occur to you or as you see them! 

Once I’ve got my Pinterest board well under way, I start thinking about and sketching for the cookies themselves.  I’ll think about cookie shape- sometimes from a cutter I have, or sometimes I buy one (shh, don’t tell on me).  For this set I bought a giraffe cutter because I would obviously want one of those!  I was lucky that for these cookies a sweet cookie friend had just sent me a set of baby shower cutters. Looking at them, I had a few ideas right away.  I knew that my “main” cookie in the set just had to revolve around my seed image of that line up of happy giraffes, and when I saw the baby carriage I just could see the carriage of baby giraffes!  I liked the onesie cutter, and the bib, but I had no love for that rattle cutter, or any need for the bottle cutter….”UNLESS, hmmm”….I decided I could see making a plaque cookie using the bottle cutter.  Now I was up to five cookies, and I had been thinking six designs total. I figured something on a plaque, because I had a lot of “shaped” cookies in that set, and picked out one of my favorites that was a good size match.

So how did I decide what to actually do on the cookies? It was a mix of things.  I had my idea for a baby carriage full of giraffes, and I had some good cookie shapes.  I decided to do the giraffe with heart spots because I had seen that in a lot of different places and liked it.  Then I had seen the cutest little letter “g” that looked like a giraffe- perfect for the bib.  I saw a great saying on a printable, and thought that it would be a funny pun in the context of a baby shower for girl babies.  Onto the bottle “plaque” it would go.  Then I saw a baby jumper that I LOVED.  Must.cookie.onto.onesie!  Finally, I saw a little dress on a hanger with the baby shoes below, and it reminded me of a little jumper that I have hanging in my son’s room- had to try that too!

A note here about attribution and using others’ art.  A couple of my cookies were pretty direct designs from the image I was looking at- the giraffes with hearts, and the onesie in particular.  The giraffe I wasn’t worried about because I had seen it done so many times and it was a “generic” enough idea that I wouldn’t be treading on toes to do it.  (The giraffe cookies pictured here were done by Powdered Sugar Cheetah Cookies). The onesie I tracked down to a clothing line called GNU- their 2013 line, and I personally wasn’t concerned about cookie-ing it for this art project, where I’m not making any money off of it,  but if it had been someone’s personal Etsy shop, I would have gotten permission.  Similarly, the quote that I put on the bottles was from a printable by Sweet Mady’s Gifts on Etsy.  I got the idea to use the quote this way seeing it there, but the quote is not original to her.  If I had decided to cookie the printable image of the quote, I would have approached her as well to ask permission.  No one has ever said I couldn’t make a cookie out of their art, especially if I provide a link when I post it!

In all cases, I try and put my own spin on what I am cookie-ing.  The onesie was the image I used most directly, but I tried to think about how I could make it interesting in cookie form.  That’s where the idea to do part of it wet on wet and then morph into icing on top of flood came from, just thinking about how to best do the image on the cookie, and take advantage of the opportunities of the medium.  And I love cookie-ing things I find like this, because it is a great way to explore the image and why it is so appealing to me, without having to hoard a million onesies and coffee mugs and Crate and Barrel plates just to keep appealing objects and graphics in my life!

I picked the colors late in the process for me, drawing them from my inspiration board on color mixing night (one bowl method, thank you Sugarbelle).  At the time, I didn’t know the gender of all the babies, so I needed to do both girl and gender neutral, so I just developed a palette around that.  In other projects, I’ve used color palettes from Design Seeds or other online sources *ahem, Pinterest*.  Then I baked my cookies- I REALLY franken-cookied that cart and giraffe one!!!  Next I just piped what I knew I was doing.  The carriages and giraffes, minus details on the carriage.  The g on the bib.  The plaques with the patterns, taken from various corners of my inspiration board.  Then I ran into my usual Day Two problem.

The problem with Day Two for me, and maybe for you, is that I kind of hated my cookies. Like, a lot. Some of my great ideas had failed in execution.  Others were just boring and unfinished. That one cookie had big cracks running through it.  Not pretty.  So back to the ol’ Pinterest board.  I didn’t find anything right away, so I just kept paging through baby shower cookies until I saw something pretty- a bunting cookie.  But I already had so many elements in the cookies, I decided that I would use the idea of bunting, but use hearts instead of flags.  Hearts had worked in other places in the set, and it would make a cute motif.  So I added heart “bunting” to my baby carriages and bibs, and felt better about those. The rest of my mistakes I tried to cover up with piping and whatnot.  Of course these were going to cookiers far more talented than I, so I had to nick, ding or stick my finger in every single one! Finally, I sent them off to the mamas-to-be.

I hope I haven’t bored you to tears with my long winded tale of giraffe baby shower cookies!  Last but not least, here is the set I sent to a certain pregnant blog host, and I hope that she knows how many good wishes we all have for her and her baby girl on the way!


I LOVE hearing how other people's minds work! And my children happily ate all the giraffe cookies they could find. (Some of them may or may not have been hidden on the very top shelf.) Thank you SO much Rebecca!!

To see more of Rebecca's creations, visit her Facebook Page HERE. She also did a recent interview with NPR. Isn't that awesome? Check out the NPR Interview HERE.

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