Butter artists keep chillin’ and churnin’

Olenka Kleban and Tim Manalo may have the coolest job at the Canadian National Exhibition.

Olenka Kleban and Tim Manalo may have the coolest job at the Canadian National Exhibition.

While fairgoers broiled in the midday heat yesterday, the pair of OCAD students were enclosed in a walk-in cooler, sculpting blocks of butter into works of art.

They spend about seven hours a day inside the box, which is chilled to about 10 C, emerging occasionally for breaks, while spectators watch them through a glass wall.

This year, the Ex’s butter sculptures must follow an outer space theme. Kleban, 22, opted to create a statue of a sitting Yoda. Manalo, 21, went for a riff on American Gothic, with aliens subbing for the farmers.

“It was kind of an easy theme,” he said. “The farm and aliens — they’ve always been related in popular culture.”

The pair compared the unusual medium to clay.

“It’s similar, but it has its own qualities,” Kleban said.

For one, it responds to heat.

“The more you handle it, the more it melts, which can be a good thing and a bad thing,” Manalo said.

“When it’s harder, it’s tougher to work with.”

 
 
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