Not Only Is Ann Fitzpatrick's Gumdrop Sculpture in Good Taste—It Tastes Good Too
I’ve always been a lover of fantasy,” says sculptor Ann Fitzpatrick, 28. “I believe in fairy tales.” For her, living happily ever after means clients devouring her art. Fitzpatrick’s medium isn’t bronze or granite but gumdrops and marzipan.
Fitzpatrick, whose parents run the celebrated Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass. (her father is also a state senator), got into caloric sculpture two years ago while recuperating from a skiing accident. Today her innocent diversion has grown into a seven-day-a-week business known as Gum Drop Square.
Working with a staff of six in Stock-bridge’s historic firehouse—the one that local illustrator Norman Rockwell made familiar—she went through more than eight tons of gumdrops last year alone. Selling both through the mail and at fashionable department stores—Filene’s, Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdale’s—Ann turns out $25 do-it-yourself sculpture kits, plus a line of finished creations like Raggedy Ann and Andy ($45 each), a rocking horse ($20) and a tiny Volkswagen (only $5.50). “Nothing gets stale,” she says. “The candy just gets harder if people leave it uncovered for a few weeks.”
For the past two years sculptor Fitzpatrick has come to New York at Christmas for sugary construction in Bloomingdale’s window. In 1976 her masterwork was a four-foot Santa. “Imelda Marcos of the Philippines came in, saw it, bought it [for $ 450] and drove off with it in her limousine,” Ann recalls mournfully. “We didn’t even have a chance to take a picture of it.” This season Fitzpatrick’s chef d’oeuvre was a 150-pound candy castle that sold for $600. Fortunately, none of her success has gone to Ann’s head—or waistline. “I don’t like eating candy,” she confides, “but I can bore the unborable talking about the different shapes and colors.”