Nationally famous for her annual creations at the Minnesota State Fair, Linda Christensen didn't set out to be a butter sculptor.
But while she was an MCAD student, opportunity knocked, and ever since, the Midwest Dairy Association pays her to chisel busts of Princess Kay of the Milky Way and eleven regional princesses. Her studio is a glass-windowed cooler.
"Butter is the best stuff I've ever carved," she notes. "It's better than clay or wood, [because] on those other materials, you can't put back what you take off if you make a mistake." Each portrait bust requires six to eight hours for the sitter, and a sixty-pound block of butter as raw material. The princesses have the option of keeping their sculptures—though some end up at corn feeds or in food banks.
For most of the year, Christensen is a freelance artist, not working in butter or even sculpture. Yet she takes her fame in stride, happily accepting new commissions, such as a bust of Conan O'Brien made from a new sculpting material: white chocolate, topped with (Minnesota) bacon.