I made this sugar skull for Cookie Connection's Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #42: Stained Glass. Halloween is followed almost immediately by the Mexican Day of the Dead, the reason I gave this sugar skull a bit of a scary look, i.e. making it serve double duty :-).
Since I plan on keeping or maybe giving this piece to someone, I made the suit part using my ECKSA (Eat the Cooke Keep the Sweet Art :-) ) system which I will dive into a bit closer some other time, so I could reuse the suit part in a cookie-free version.
I design my stuff with the free vector program Inkscape. If I ever get some time, I will show you how to use and design cookies with it.
Added a drop shadow to graphics below. Doesn't the left one look cool? Like the eyes and nose are popping out, haha! There are, of course, no such effects in the template, though.
Below you can see part of the sugar skull piped in royal icing. I didn't pipe the circles, because I can get them much rounder with isomalt.
Up to this point the filling of the skull looks pretty good, but once I fill in the spaces in between the shapes, it will start getting messier. That's why I use the under/backside which looks much more like regular stained glass. But as you can see further down. I've added some dimensions to some of the shapes.
Here you can see the flat under/backside of the sugar skull on the left. On the right I've added dimensions. I like how the eyes and teeth turned out :-).
For the suit part I wanted to get a glass mosaic look. I piped it with royal icing and filled in with isomalt, but instead of transferring it onto an iced cookie, I placed it onto pastillage, which dries very hard and is ideal to support a fragile transfer that would be removed from a cookie again.
I've been playing around with this medium for a bit now, but still cannot say what recipe I like most. Will do some more testing, and then let you know about my preference on a separate page. Sign up for my newsletter, if you want to get notified of new additions to this website.
So here are the parts of the 3D suit cookie:
The mosaic grids are piped with bead consistency icing so the lines would join each other more readily to achieve a nicer "grout" look.
The third photo shows the pastillage peaking through at the bottom. One could also have placed the transfer onto a piped and flooded royal icing transfer, but then one side would not have been totally flat. Like rolled out fondant, pastillage is flat on both sides.
The sugar skull is not attached to the suit cookie. The shoulders are done with pastillage to cover the "seams".
The cookies have been replaced by pastillage in this version. Pastillage dries very quickly. I was able to start decorating the base plate within an hour. It was still quite soft inside, but rigid enough to be handled without bending the slightest bit.
Adding royal icing and isomalt made it even sturdier as soon as they were applied.
I was lucky with this sugar skull as the weather was playing along nicely. When it's cold outside the heaters are running and the air humidity drops.
Leading up to my working on the sugar skull, I was doing a collaboration piece, and it was a nightmare to work with the isomalt. In high air humidity, it gets sticky very soon after it's applied and needs to be sprayed often with a glaze spray - after very short working sessions - to keep it from absorbing the moisture and becoming cloudy. Still had some areas on that work that didn't fare too well.
Anyway, this one stayed dry. And I noticed that once isomalt stays dry during low air humidity times, it is like cured and will not absorb moisture much any more, even when unprotected.
I might have to invest in a good dehumidifier for my atelier for warmer seasons.
Here a view from top as I added more mosaics to the collar and shoulders, and of course the plate it's sitting on: