Decorator's Block

Posted by Anne Yorks on Monday, April 4, 2011

Decorator's block is a lot like writer's block. I find them equally frustrating. Most of the time, designing a cookie for an order comes naturally - especially when the customer has a clear vision of what they want. I always try to plan ahead for orders, even emailing cookie sketches to clients to make sure we're all on the same page.

But other times, things aren't so easy. I think it over and over and over and nothing. Blank mind. Ugh. This recently happened to me when I was working on a project for the Penn State Iron Chef competition.This event is organized by a group of Nutrition Graduate Students and benefits the State College Food Bank. I donated cookies last year when the secret ingredient was apples. Apples, could it get any easier? I did red and golden apples. Then I also did a bushel of apples. I made a few chef hats and the order was finished. Success. 

This year, I had been trusted with the secret ingredient again and I really wanted to make the best cookies I could. From watching Iron Chef on Food Network, I know there are tougher ingredients that I could have to turn into a cookie. But for some reason, this year's ingredient really stumped me. Can you guess what it was?? MUSHROOMS. 

I originally wanted to make cookies of different mushroom varieties. But as I looked at images of edible mushrooms, they were mostly brown and yellow. Not my usual bright, fun cookie style. This is where I hit a road block. I kept pushing the idea of these realistic mushrooms and I kept falling short of a successful decorating idea.

Finally I decided to do the same thing I do when I have writer's block. I just sat down and started sketching out cookie ideas. What seemed impossible suddenly became possible again. I had a few solid ideas. The decorator's block started to melt. 

So in the end I decided to design my own whimsical, edible mushroom. I scrapped the realistic mushroom idea completely and went with a really 'fun-guy'. [sorry, I couldn't resist]

I love the blues in his mushroom cap. And his rosy cheeks.

And every fun guy needs a fun girl, right?

Ahhhhh. Relief from decorator's block is wonderful. And even more wonderful, the group of nutrition students raised more than $1500 for the Food Bank! So super cool!! Here's a link to the newspaper article with more details about the contest. http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/27/2608311/iron-chef-psu-raises-money-for.html

A planned out cookie makes the decorating so much more fun. And then, even when I make the mistake of squeezing a big blob of black icing on a cookie, I'm still happy. Thank goodness for extra cookies!! This one's for the baker. Yippee. I swear I didn't do it on purpose.

I think this happy little guy looks like he's doing his Liberty Bell impression. (ps - do you like the eyelashes? Since this cookie was already ruined, I decided to test the eyelashes with my edible food pens.) 

This next order didn't cause any decorator's block. Baseballs and jerseys with the Detroit Tigers 'D'. My customer emailed me after receiving the order to let me know "They are sooooo cute!!!!!  I know someone that is going to be VERY happy!!!!" That's a lot of exclamation points. I thought I was the only one who used punctuation in such quantity.

It's so cool how a cookie of someone's interest or hobby can really make them feel special.

I am excited to share a few other special projects in my coming posts. Plus, this week, I'll have a special guest visit me. I can't wait to share all the details so soon. It is really quite exciting.

Have a sweet day,