Like any artist, Shelton resident Charlotte Biercevicz has her favorite mediums. To create her annual holiday displays, she works in gingerbread, fondant, molded chocolate royal icing, and gum paste.
A hobby that started about 30 years ago, when her kids were young, has blossomed into a tradition that takes a lot of time and planning.
This year, Biercevicz created an entirely edible gingerbread “Whoville” inspired by the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, with a few elements of the more recent movie adaptation of The Grinch.
“I would say I spent about 60 to 70 hours on it this year,” Biercevicz said. “There were nights when I had to tell my husband, ‘Sorry, honey, there’s no dinner tonight.’”
She started making gingerbread houses by following designs published in Good Housekeeping and then began brainstorming her own ideas. Her past creations include a replica of Cinderella’s Castle in Disneyland, and this year she made a gingerbread version of her mother-in-law’s home.
Whoville presented a bit of a challenge this year, since none of the buildings are square. She used pots, cans and other circular items as a base.
She starts her work in October, drawing her ideas on graph paper, meticulously planning each building before she cuts out the drawings to trace. Some of the candy for decorating is ordered online, some of the more unusual finds she buys in Vermont during leaf-peeping season.
What makes her Whoville special is all the tiny details, like a roast beast or a clothesline of wreaths, just as in the classic cartoon, and much more. It takes a bit of experimenting to get things right. This year, she used popcorn on the Whoville sign and wrapped gum paste around a pencil to make a spring-like design for a house.
“When I wake up at 3 a.m. with an idea, I have to write it down,” she said.
But while the creations can be time-consuming, she lets her grandkids and family members enjoy the edible pieces as soon as Christmas is over.
“Christmas week we do something called a progressive dinner, where everyone brings a course — I’m in charge of dessert,” Biercevicz said. “Everyone comes and looks at it and then kids are allowed to smash it and eat it. They enjoy it so much.”
She also shares her love of gingerbread houses with others. Her grandchildren help her think of ideas, and she held a gingerbread house-making class at Bishop Wicke Assisted Living, where her mother is a resident.
You can find and vote for her Whoville to win a contest at UltimateGingerbread.com.
Biercevicz is already planning for next year, considering making Santa’s Workshop. But so far, Whoville is her favorite creation.
“I sort of feel like, ‘How am I going to top this year,’” she said.