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Meet the Fair’s Butter Lady

by Steven Doyle     photos by Robert Bostick

There is little doubt you have seen culinary sculptures in your life time, those made of ice and even melons. But have you seen sculpture in butter? Sharon BuMann does just that for many state fairs across the country, including the Texas State Fair. She has been having her way with butter since 1994. We sat down with a few toast points, jam and the butter lady for a few questions.   

CraveDFW: How did you get started sculpting in this odd medium?

BuMann: I answered an ad in the paper for a new butter sculpture at the state fair in New York. I think the concept for the ad was to prove that no one was capable, but I answered the ad and they interviewed me. They wouldn’t let me do it the first year because I was a woman. At that point I had been sculpting professionally for 18 years, so the next year I applied again and got the job.

CraveDFW: What was your first butter sculpture?

BuMann: My first work in butter was a little girl sitting on a wall eating corn. The first in Texas was a little longhorn steer, again eating corn, and a little girl was trying to rope him.

CraveDFW: What is your favorite butter to work with?

BuMann: I like all natural butter with no artificial colorings that will turn my hands odd colors. I am using Keller’s Creamery butter this year and I really like this.

CraveDFW: What was the most unusual sculpture in butter you have created?

BuMann: I think it would probably have to be the King Tut tomb. We got very elaborate with that. It was about four years ago and we turned the whole entire case into an Egyptian tomb. That was when Tut was on tour and in Dallas. They give me free reign to do what I like.

CraveDFW: What other sculptures do you create besides butter?

BuMann: I do bronze monuments. I have two in progress right now in Montata. I like in New York so I do a lot of going back and forth these days. I have a dog at home and I miss him.

CraveDFW: What is your favorite subject in butter?

BuMann: I like doing a sub-theme. If you look at the piece there is one thing going on, but if you look closely there’s something else happening. Very much like a John Rogers sculpture. He would make these 18 inch sculptures. One remunerable piece he did was called Weighing the Baby. The mother has her baby on the scale and the brother is pulling on the blanket. The shopkeeper’s eyes are very large.

CraveDFW: Explain the butter diorama this year.

BuMann: I wanted to do something significant to the 125th anniversary of the Texas fair, so we are taking people from that time frame and bringing them to the fair with their entries. The little girl is bringing her dairy cow, and the boy has his prize rooster, and the mother has baked goods. There will be signs leading them to the entry of the fair. This will take me about two weeks to complete.

Sharon BuMann’s work will be wrapped up probably today, but you may find the interesting sculpture in the Creative Arts Building along with all the award winning art that was entered in this years fair.


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