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My Bio

My Bio

I completed my first carving in 1981. It was the main slide for an educational slide show titled  “The Art of Cheesemaking”.  At the time I was on staff as Art Director for American Dairy Association of Wisconsin.  The carving looked like a wood cut, very 2-D with wood grain texture in the background. I pulled an all-nighter to get it done and fell asleep on it twice, right in mid-carving! (I have since fallen asleep many a-time while carving.)” 

I actually began freelance cheese sculpting in 1996 after leaving the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). My first commissioned piece was for WMMB – a 40- pound block, split in two, and stacked vertically. It was 25″ tall by 14″ wide and done for a National Senate Legislators conference in Milwaukee. After that, I completed a carving titled “The Cheesemakers of Monroe, a salute to the Cheesemakers of Monroe, NY.  From there, I moved on quickly to 3-D sculptures and did a carving of a 640-pound Green Bay Packer My Bio for Sargento Market, to commemorate the 1996 Super Bowl. I’ve also carved a 120-pound, 36″ tall Mickey Mouse for Disney World and a 300-pound gorilla for the National Juvenile Diabetes Association Gala, and many more!

 I carve mostly in cheese (99%), but I have also sculpted in paper mache’ and created five sculptures for Oscar Mayer.  For the various Oscar Mayer events, I created a 4-foot tall robot boy, a 4-foot long Fun Snacks car, a Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, a baseball player and a 5-foot tall Fun Snacks Loving Cup for the Grand Finals Award Program at Lego Land.” “It was all very cute, fun, and, I might state, the Rice Krispie squares make the best building blocks and the marshmallow cream was the best cement! Needless to say, I stopped licking my fingers quite early along in the process and my garage was the most popular garage on the block that summer – with pallets of brownies, cookies, 5-gallon buckets of fudge and marshmallow cream…plus sprinkles and 20-pound boxes of mini-M&Ms.

 I mostly carve mild cheddar because it is consistent, tastes great, and comes in a range of sizes from 40 pound blocks that are 11″ by 14″ by 7″ up to 12,500-pound blocks which I carved for HEB’s Central Market in Grapevine, TX. (That’s 8 feet tall by 8 feet in diameter!) It was amazing! I sculpted the local football team’s school logo, a dragon head, and carved a long dragon body winding around the entire circumference with several feet and claws.  That giant cheese sold out in 41 days! Six tons!

Cheddar is the most common but I love to use other varieties like Provolone in the long cylinders or “salami” shapes, Asiago and White Cheddar. Gruyere is beautiful and almost like a warm toned ivory…and I like to include other varieties to add color contrast and textures: Colby Jack for moons; Pepper Jack for its flecks of red, green and yellow; Baby Swiss is also a natural for moons. I will sometimes combine as many different varieties as possible to reinforce the statement that cheese comes in endless flavors, types and kinds.

I talk almost constantly while I carve. In general, people know very little about cheese varieties and how cheese is made. I’m always describing the specific virtues of the very cheese I am carving at that specific time.

I like to invite spectators to taste – encouraging them to hold the cheese on their tongue longer, to let it warm up in their mouths so they can let more of the flavors come out of the cheese and fill their taste buds. We often eat far too quickly and miss out on a lot of the subtle flavors of cheese – a living ever-changing thing, like wine.

People are also amazed by the larger sizes of cheese and wonder and ask constantly ‘Is it real? I have never seen a cheese that big before.’ (Even if it is a 20-pound wheel or block, much less a 500-pound cheddar mammoth.) It’s silly for me to be there and not talk. There is so much to share about the nutrition benefits of dairy and cheese, how much food value there is and the interesting facts – like it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese, that the average cow gives 75 pounds of milk a day and how many cows and how many days it took to make the 1,300-pound block that I've sculpted previously.

A typical 20-pound sculpture, two dimensional (11x14x3) takes approximately six to 12 hours. It can take from five to 50 hours depending on the detail and size of sculptures. The 2,400-pound sculpture for the 2006 Indiana State Fair took a whopping 121 hours.  It really varies.

Most of my creations are eaten, whether right on the spot or at the event where I am sculpting. The 150-pound Green Bay vs. Tampa Bay (two football players with crashing helmets) was featured at a NFL tailgate party where hungry fans gobbled half of it and then a fan jumped on the table and ran off with the second half! Some sculptures are used for days at trade shows and some are taken home by the guests of honor (many the CEO--The Big Cheese--you know) and saved, frozen and brought out again for another party. You can “freshen them up ” with a light spraying of Pam. Some carvings are donated to soup kitchens.