The Twelve Days of Cookies Project, Eight Maids a Milking

Today’s guest is none other than the gorgeous, talented Arty McGoo, one of two ladies {the other being Anne Yorks} that have brought me to tears with cookies.  All I can say is prepare to be amazed because that’s Liz’s super secret magical power.
Are you ready? Me too.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking by the wonderful Mrs. Arty McGoo!
Thank you so much Callye for inviting me to be a part of your 12 days of Christmas.  I only lost half of my hair over this!
It all started innocently enough.  I was thinking: folk inspired quilt squares with the maids a milking scattered over a serenely pastoral hillside.  Then I got to thinking, “This is Ms. Sugarbelle, the queen of cutter repurposing!  I can’t use my same old tricks of putting whatever I want on a square.  I’ve got to think outside the cutter… well crud!”  I am so bad at seeing things in other cutters, so this was the first time I sketched out my ideas before I put icing to cookie.  A planner I am not, so this whole process was very different for me and I must say, I liked it!
I drew one milkmaid and found a cutter that would fit around her, but the rest of the seven I traced the cutters and sketched inside those boundaries and found that easier. I ended up hand cutting a cow, but other than that I used { L to R } baby rattle, bear, two upside down snowmen, two Christmas trees put together, a different snowman, and a fairy cutter.
Once I flooded the cookies to match my sketches I couldn’t leave well enough alone and had to pull out my paintbrush and food coloring.  This technique is fun to bring out all the dimension and with a little practice, anyone can do it.  Here are a few painting tips to help along the way:
* Use a new paintbrush.  NOBODY likes cookies with essence of turpentine… ’nuff said!
* My palette is full of dried Wilton food coloring so it’s just like using watercolors.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Americolor, but Wilton is better for painting and drying as it has a more paste-like consistency.  I do not dilute them, but rather wet my paintbrush and take the color onto my brush as I need it.  That way you can control how deep your color is and it’s easy to mix little quantities.
* Think “watercolor” not “oil painting”.  You don’t want to see any texture with your food coloring “paint”.  That is a recipe for disaster as all your hard work will never dry and be a complete smear-fest.  It should be washes of color and no gloppy texture.
* I add a little corn syrup to my royal icing and it helps to create a nice canvas for painting.  {about a scant TBSP of corn syrup to a 2 lbs of powdered sugar recipe}
* If you feel like there is too much color or you don’t like it, you can almost always erase.  Just take a damp paintbrush, with no color on it, and “erase” off the part you don’t like.  I say almost because once you work the frosting too much, it will begin to pit and break down.
* Finish off by dusting the cookies with a loose fluffy paintbrush and some flour.  It sets everything nicely.
All right!  Ready to try?
Start with a damp to wet paintbrush, take some food coloring onto your brush {I used brown} and run the bristles along the crevices and dimensions that you would like to add shadows or depth.  Don’t be scared if it looks a bit heavy handed at first.  You will be able to soften and blend with your damp paintbrush.
It’s amazing what a little antiquing can do for a cookie.
It was really fun to try something new and use cutters other than my circles and squares, and I hope you try something new and grab a paintbrush.

Be sure to check out the other projects in this series:

Happy painting and Merry Christmas!