URBANA — On this Altgeld Hall, the asphalt roof is red icing, the windows are sucrose and the copse are chocolate-covered grape stems.
A applique adaptation of the celebrated University of Illinois architecture starred in this year’s anniversary video greeting from Adjudicator Robert Jones, custom-built by UI Housing pastry chef Eric Larson.
It alone took, oh, about 64 hours to actualize — eight hours a day for eight days, by Larson’s estimation.
“It was daunting,” he said Thursday.
Larson aerated up artistic projects afore — including a amber motorcycle carve for a UI retiree who admired his bike and a 2-foot-tall block adaptation of Cincinnati’s baseball amphitheater for backward UI Housing Director Jack Collins, a Reds fan.
So he agreed to accord the applique Altgeld a shot.
“It articulate like article that would be fun to do,” said Larson, who’s formed at the UI for 25 years. “Sometimes, a change of clip is affectionate of fun.”
It took a little best than he expected.
Larson accomplished appropriate abroad that he bare some affectionate of 3-D template, which he crafted out of cardboard. He acclimated the pieces to actualize the applique structure.
“They asked me for article that was a realistic-looking building. I knew I couldn’t get abroad with aloof putting candies all over it and ambuscade stuff,” he said.
He acclimated tricks to actor the appearance on the Romanesque awakening building, which was completed in 1897.
The windows were complete with broiled “isomalt,” which looks like table amoroso but is fabricated of sucrose and is sturdier because it doesn’t blot water, he said.
He biconcave grape stems in amber for the trees, and acclimated food-coloring to cast cornflakes tossed in acquiescent and adulate to actualize leaves on the powdered-sugar snow.
Some appearance accepted added challenging, including the arced pillars lining Altgeld’s signature tower, which took three or four tries. Larson broiled them about dowel rods, but the chef kept addition and ashore to the rods, he said.
“I don’t appetite to accomplish annihilation anytime afresh that’s got curves,” he said.
The better cephalalgia was Altgeld’s roof, which kept angled too abundant and had to be able with shims, he said.
The final blow was a gingerbread-cookie adaptation of the Alma Mater carve out front, which was the brilliant of the video spot. It shows Jones walking accomplished the applique Altgeld, again cheating a chaw of the Alma cookie and putting it back, bare one arm.
Larson fabricated about 19 accolade for the abounding takes complex in the recording — some with accoutrements “prebitten off” and affected teeth marks fabricated with a channelled cookie cutter, he said. It looked added acceptable than the absolute thing, he said.
“We approved bitter a cookie and seeing how absolute it looked, but it bankrupt a accomplished area off,” he said.
Jones wasn’t the alone one cheating a bite. The applique Altgeld was on affectation at the Illini Union this week, and “somebody bit Alma’s arch off,” said campus backer Robin Kaler, who oversaw assembly of the video greeting with Allison Vance.
On Thursday, the headless Alma had been replaced with a “Lovie Mater” cookie created by Larson — about Alma with a Lovie Smith beard.
The added Alma accolade were acclimated up in the filming of the video — and they were delicious, according to Kaler, who had the enviable job of bistro the discards from the assorted takes.
“The adjudicator ate seven accoutrements and I ate seven cookies,” she said.
Next year’s greeting will accept a altered theme, but Larson is accessible to authoritative applique versions of added iconic campus buildings, such as the Hallene Gateway or Illini Union — but not Foellinger Auditorium. While he was alive on the Altgeld model, he’d abstraction added barrio as he collection about campus and absitively he would never body annihilation with a arced roof.
Andrew Gleason, who coordinates video assembly at the UI, originally capital Larson to accomplish the absolute Quad, Kaler said.
“That would booty a lot added time and a lot added bodies to create,” Larson said.
You can watch the anniversary video or get Larson’s gingerbread-house compound on the UI website, illinois.edu.
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