Sweet Sculpture

Pop in on artist Makenzie Kus, BA’07, at 2 a.m. just about any weekend, and you’ll find her still hard at work on her art, usually adding extra details, because “I just can’t stop myself.”

Like any artist, details matter to Kus. Unlike most artists, however, Kus’s painstaking efforts are not only likely to disappear within the next few days — they are intended to.

That’s just fine with Kus, the owner of Something Blue Bakery in Lafayette, Ind., where she spends her days crafting cakes that range from simple to astonishingly elaborate three-dimensional or hand-painted creations.

Although Kus — who studied scenery design at IU — has worked professionally as a scenic artist, cake decorating has been a passion of hers since high school. A move to Lafayette in 2011 prompted her to officially trade her paintbrushes for pastry brushes, fondant, and buttercream.

When Kus meets with a client to discuss his or her vision for a custom cake, she asks questions designed to “get a little bit of that person’s personality without knowing them,” she says. Some customers know exactly what they are looking for, while others require more help brainstorming.

“Occasionally you have to tell someone, ‘This part will not work with gravity,’” Kus jokes. “You have to guide people to what physics will allow.”

Sleep is scarce on most weekend nights, especially during wedding season. While she can create smaller cakes, like a baseball cap, in a couple hours, her most elaborate creations have required as much as 20 hours of sculpting and painting.

As far as art goes, Kus admits that sculpted cakes are more ephemeral than most media.

“You always envision an art piece just falling over,” she says. “You wouldn’t want that — it is horrible. But a part of you is like, ‘What would happen if it just fell apart?’ [Cutting into a cake] is like that. There is just something a little bit fun about cutting into it.”

Makenzie Kus and her art appeared in the Original section of the Summer 2015 issue of the IU Alumni Magazine, a magazine for members of the IU Alumni Association. View current and past issues of the IUAM.

Original shines a spotlight on the works, talents, and interests of IU alumni across the globe. Have something unique worth sharing? Let us know at iueditor@iu.edu

Written By
Kasey Husk
Kasey Husk, BA’08, is a freelance writer/blogger living in Sicily, Italy.