Couple’s White House sculpture would melt in the mouth
CONSHOHOCKEN » Butter can make anything — even politics — palatable, right?
Although the 400 pounds of butter that the husband and wife sculpting team of Jim Victor and Marie Pelton used to carve a stunning replica of the White House has sacrificed its edible appeal for the sake of art, the pair gets to keep any leftover unused goods supplied by President Butter.
The makers of French artisan butter and cheeses had commissioned the couple famous for their butter sculptures for state and county fairs and other events to sculpt a White House for their social media campaign “A Tasteful Election.”
“They had done a few sculptures for us in the past, like the Eifel Tower, in butter and cheese,” explained Arden Kroetsch, President Butter’s marketing manager. “Our goal was to welcome the new president to the White House. It’s timely, and with the name of the product it was a perfect fit.”
In a refrigerated trailer at their Conshohocken home, Victor and Pelton, both graduates of the Sculpture Department of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, were hard at work on Friday morning, well into day four of their nonpartisan homage to the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States.
With the bones of the building solidly in place, their attention turned to the colonnades and intricate architectural facets.
“We don’t always necessarily work together,” said Victor, whose solo work includes chocolate portraits of Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller as a promotion for their Broadway play
play “Sugar Babies,” and his first of many butter sculptures for the Pennsylvania Farm Show in 1995.
However, the making of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was always regarded as a two-person endeavor, kind of like a you-take-the-East-Wing-and-I’lltake-the-West-Wing type of thing.
“This is definitely a good job for both of us because it’s so big and she can work on one side, I can work on the other. It’s just a lot of detail,” Victor allowed.
The President Butter White House is not the couple’s first round of government-style construction.
“We did the Capitol building for Cabot Cheese,” Victor said.
Among the nondairy enterprises was a Mount Rushmore made out of Werther’s caramel.
“For National Caramel Day, one of those obscure holidays,” Pelton added, laughing.
Typically, none of the sculptures are ever consumed, she explained.
“We’re not chefs. Chefs do get into culinary art, but we don’t take it from a chef’s point of view. We take it from an artist’s point view, coming at our work with traditional sculpting methods, using marbling and sculpting tools.”
Although the President Butter White House — which, at 400 pounds, must seem like a piece of cake to the man who carved a NASCAR Chevy out of 3,500 pounds of cheddar — is not destined to be slathered on cobs of corn, melted as lobster dip or spread onto English muffins, it will be repurposed, noted Kroetsch.
“The butter goes through a process at Reinford Farms in Mifflintown, where the atoms are broken down and it’s turned into methane gas,” she said. “They actually use that energy to power their farm and they also give energy back to the grid where it goes out to other counties in Pennsylvania.”
Other sculptures, such as the one that stayed in Vegas at Hershey’s Chocolate World are a bit more longlasting, even if they do require a little renovation from time to time.
“We soon need to get to Vegas to refresh that one,” Victor reminded his co-worker. “Yes, we need to get back to Vegas.”
Husband and wife sculpting team Jim Victor and Marie Pelton of Conshohocken were commissioned by President Butter to replicate the White House from 400 pounds of butter.
Jim Victor works on an intricate detail in a corner of a White House building made entirely of butter.