This time every year, we are lucky to have folks contribute their gingerbread masterpieces to the Museum’s Sweet Creations Exhibit and auction. Kim Salisbury, who working with her sister Gig Mahar is a frequent participant in this popular exhibit, shares their story:
This year marked our 3rd entry for the Sweet Creations exhibit. I started decorating cakes over 25 years ago and soon moved to cookies. After my family and I moved back to Rochester in 1999, my sister, Gig and I decorated cookies each holiday. She’s an artist and though I love the little details, together we took decorating to the extreme! (Family and friends often thought our treats were too beautiful to eat.) Gig suggested we create something for the Eastman House and that we stray from the traditional by focusing on the inside of the house rather than the outside.
Our first gingerbread “room” was a family room, complete with fireplace, Christmas tree, cozy furniture and a table set for a meal! The dining furniture had legs made of cinnamon sticks (the humidity caused the gingerbread legs to collapse). Our second “room” was a kitchen featuring a tiny gingerbread house project in progress. This year, our “child’s bedroom” has bunk beds for two sisters! Their Christmas dresses hang on the door ready for a festive gathering and green pj’s lay ready on their beds!
Making a ‘room’ allowed us to use gingerbread to create cute elements such as a dresser, desk (with a top that opens) and bookshelf. We used fondant for Christmas decorations, clothing, tiny shoes, and posters painted with food coloring- including one of Hunt Hollow- and adorable bedding. You will see that one sister is tidy and made her bed while the other has left her covers strewn about! The bunk beds were constructed with cinnamon sticks after the first one collapsed – again, the humidity!
Fondant is like modeling clay and with a little practice, easy to work with. It was even used to create the rug (fashioned after Pottery Barn) and the wood floor. For the floor, brown coloring was added to fondant, but not mixed thoroughly so the brown was inconsistent. It was then rolled out, cut into strips and laid down like real floor boards.
Important tools for this project include Exacto knives, toothpicks, straight edge rulers, frosting tips and anything else that suites our needs (pencils with erasers removed, comb edges etc…). Our final touches were the stuffed animals and pets that our own daughters have adored! This year the actual gingerbread baking was especially easy as it was done in the bakery at Lanovara Specialty Foods, purchased by my husband Bert and I two years ago.
Gig and I always wish we had time to create more little tiny details to add to our rooms! We love this project and supporting the Eastman house!
Roxana Aparicio Wolfe is the Curator of Education and Online Communities at George Eastman House.
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