Being born and raised in Wisconsin, USA, seems to be a must for artistic people whose talent is for using cheese as their medium of choice when sculpting. Two notable exponents of this unusual art are Sarah ‘Cheese Lady’ Kaufman, and winemaker Troy Landwher, both of whom are truly amazing artists in this unusual area of sculptural talent.
Troy Landwehr, professional cheese sculptor, has carved over 250 masterpieces, and on July 4, 2008 unveiled his greatest creation in New York City, becoming in the process the title-holder for biggest cheese sculpture, according to the Guinness book of records. Based on the painting, by John Trumbull, of the Declaration of Independence signing, in Philadelphia, this one-ton sculpture toured the US, before eventually being eaten.
Landwehr, 33 years old, is primarily a wine-maker, home-brewing since graduating from Milwaukee’s Institute of Art and Design. Cheese-carving began very early on, taking part in a school cheese-carving contest when only 1, in 1987. His latest cheese creation depicts a penny. In a forty inch wide sculpture, commemorating the bi-centenary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
Sarah worked for the Wisconsin dairy industry, in Wisconsin for 16 years, having earned a commercial art degree. The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s creative director, her remit included national advertising, and public relations promotions. Her interest in cheese carving seemed to fit right in with her work, her first sculptures being used for promotional events.
A cheese-carving, training program was something she helped to develop, moving on after ten years in her job to a new post, managing Creative Services for a renowned specialty food business, based, in Cincinnati, continuing, all the time, in carving cheese, aiming to make a full time career out of it.
Hundreds of commissions, for her cheese creations, have poured into Sarah’s mailbox since 1996, the beauty of her works having featured, very positively, countless times on radio, television newscasts, talk and food shows and in many print publications. Cincinnati and San Diego are the two venues for her studios these days, and she often makes personal appearances, sculpting cheese at all sorts of venues.
Sarah has, in the past, carved creations from blocks of cheese weighing between ten and five hundred lbs, and even one 12,500-pound cheddar giant. She tells that sculptures can take from six to 50 hours in completion, dependent upon size of sculpture, and detail required. A sculpture for Indiana State Fair of 2006, which weighed an enormous 2,400 lbs, needed 121 hours of work before it was done.
Her works are very striking, and include a six ft aircraft carrier, for the USS Regan, a Micket Mouse figure that weighs 120 lbs, a Gorilla statue, 300 lbs in weight, and a six ft alligator, made of cheddar cheese, for the University of Florida. Like Troy’s work, Sarah’s creations, for the most part get eaten, either right away, or in due course.
Some sculptures take days to be eaten, when featuring at tradeshows, while a few are taken home guests of honor. A proportion of the carvings end up being donated to soup kitchens. These are two truly gifted artists, whose work gives us a lot of pleasure, and can even satisfy our hunger. We will, no doubt, be seeing more of their wonderful artistic creativity over the coming years.
All images used with permission