Everything was moo-ving along nicely Sunday evening as Sedalia artists Janice Hargrave and her brother Scott Linsenbardt worked with 300 pounds of butter to sculpt a Cow-ousel inside the Gerken Dairy Center for the Missouri State Fair.
“We’ve had quite a few fans stopping by,” Linsenbardt said. “It started about two days ago. They look through the window and they come in and say hi.”
The siblings have been sculpting the MSF Butter Cow for six years and have created, over the years, Elsie the Cow, The Thinker, Moo-a Lisa, a Cow-girl, and Amoo-ican Gothic cows.
Hargrave said this year they were only working with 300 pounds of butter, but in the past they have created sculptures with as much as 700 pounds.
Linsenbardt spent three days constructing the armature for the the piece; a butter carousel that will rotate with with four butter cows. They spent 20 hours Saturday and Sunday sculpting the butter inside a refrigerated room at a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees. Warm clothes were a must.
“It’s a Cow-ousel!” Hargrave said. “Scott is good, especially with the armature side. He can work out any kind of problem.”
Hargrave is an art teacher at Parkview Elementary School and Linsenbardt is an artist and local carpenter.
“It’s been tricky,” he said. “Our original intent was to have the cows move up and down, but instead we’re just going to settle on having a turntable.”
Linsenbardt said before beginning the project he built a model of it out of heavy cardboard.
“I was thankful that I built a model.” he added. “I made it to see if it would work. The model itself was really helpful in getting the right perspective.”
The butter cows will resemble carousel horses, Hargrave said.
“Hopefully in slightly different poses,” she added.
The brother sister team begins sculpting with their fingers and hands, and then uses tools to carve out detail.
They said after working with all that butter their hands are moisturized — or moo-sturized — but the smell of butter gets into their noses and on their clothes.
“We can always smell it for awhile,” Hargrave said.
“We need to have the ritual burning of the butter clothes,” Linsenbardt added smiling. “They will smell. You can wash them all you want, but they will smell like butter.”
Luckily the butter they are sculpting this year is new. Linsenbardt added that the butter for the sculpture is sometimes recycled.
“We use the same butter for more than one year,” Hargrave noted. “This year it’s new. We’ve used (previous butter) two years max or three years max. They scrape it off and freeze it.”
The recycled butter is a better consistency to create the sculpture. New butter is more difficult to sculpt.
“It doesn’t break up nearly as as well,” Linsenbardt said.
Hargrave and Linsenbardt planned to work late Sunday, since the butter sculpture need to be completed by Monday morning.
“I think we’ll be here at least until midnight,” Linsenbardt said smiling. “Unless the butter cow elves come in.”
“We hope people enjoy it, we hope fair-goers get a kick out of it,” Hargrave added. “It’s kind of a tradition for a lot of people to stop by and see it with their kids and grandkids.”
Hargrave and Linsenbardt’s Cow-ousel may be seen inside the Gerken Dairy Center, located near the dairy barns, during the Missouri State Fair.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.