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faces: Jennifer Mooney

Photo by Steve Bracci

She may be only 25, but Jennifer Mooney is already known for her artistic skills in a pretty unusual medium—gingerbread.

For the past six years, she’s sculpted highly detailed and ornamental replicas of historic homes and buildings in gingerbread, fondant, icing and other edible building materials for the Augusta Museum of History’s annual Holiday Gingerbread Village display and auction.

A self-taught cake decorator, waitress, cashier and otherwise Jill-of-all-trades at Pineland Bakery in Waynesboro, Mooney started working in desserts when she was just a few months shy of 16. “Gingerbread is probably my least favorite cookie to eat,” she admits with a laugh. But after she entered a local competition with a simple log cabin, the bug bit. Since then, she’s created increasingly elaborate displays (“If there’s something I don’t know how to do, I YouTube it!”), including a recent recreation of historic downtown Waynesboro, down to miniscule lamps and even a tiny mural.

Mooney starts laying out her plans a good two months before the museum event, selecting a historic site to replicate, taking photos and crafting a template out of posterboard. Then it’s crunch time. With each house taking roughly 50 hours, Mooney often comes into the bakery at 3 or 4 a.m. to work on her house, works a full day from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., then stays late for a couple more hours. “Those are the nights when I say, ‘I’m never going to do it again,’” she says with a laugh. “Then in a few months I think, ‘So what am I going to do next year?’”

You can see what Jennifer Mooney builds this year, along with works by other talented gingerbread artists, at the Augusta Museum of History, November 15-21 and 23-25. Mooney also teaches a gingerbread house decorating workshop for kids on November 17 at the museum. Cost is $20 per gingerbread house and children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. To RSVP call 478-589-7645.

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