As a sidebar to the documentary film, we are featuring web profiles of federal employees who also do something creative on the side. Meet Gretchen Shoemaker, a Preservation Specialist for the National Archives at St. Louis. Gretchen finds her creative outlet through baking and cake decorating. Here she tells her story.
I learned baking and cake decorating from my mom. When I started college I found that cakes make cheap birthday gifts for friends, and most of the time they were experiencing their first birthdays away from home and missed that bit of tradition. It gave me a boost knowing I had a talent that could make people happy.
I really got into cakes as art about the time I started working for the National Archives. I started by experimenting with recipes, but moved into cake sculpting and working with fondant and gum paste figures to design cakes that are very personal to the person they are for. It’s fun to see what I can get away with, but I also love trying to bring a little joy into the lives of my co-workers.
I’m not, by any means, a professional. Some cakes turn out well, others looked a whole lot better on paper. My talent will probably never match my imagination, but I love what I do and it makes people happy. I consider myself a cake folk artist.
If you are an employee of the federal government but spend your evenings or weekends doing something something creative (whether as a second career or as a strong hobby) and would like to be featured on our Meet the Creatives section of this website, tell us a little bit about your story.