Daring to Decorate


Photo Contributed

Sophomore Sofia Brown frosts a cake.

Vila Miller, Staff Writer

Every summer for 4H, Sophomore Zofia Brown snips and sews, cuts and pastes and mixes and beats. She decorates everything from canvas shoes to styrofoam cakes. 

Brown has been in 4-H since the third grade. She says she has learned a myriad of different life skills, including photography, sewing, cake decorating and various binders and presentations, through this club. 

“I think it’s pretty important because I get to do different activities that I wouldn’t do otherwise and acquire different skills,” Brown said. “Arts and crafts is something that I really enjoy doing, but if I didn’t do 4-H, I probably wouldn’t fit as much of that into my schedule to do. I learn helpful skills like sewing and stuff like that. Even talking to the judges is a good thing to be able to do.”

Brown’s family has also been involved in 4-H.

“My dad did 4-H when he was young, and he showed animals and did some projects,” Brown said. ”They had… I want to say goats. He rode horses, I think. And I remember he did a project where they had alfalfa. My uncle and my dad were in 4-H and they took alfalfa–they had the same plant from the same place, and they both took it in. My dad had got a better ribbon on the project than my uncle.”

As Brown lives in the suburbs, she cannot raise chickens or do the type of projects her father did. Instead, she has chosen to hone her creative talents to take pictures, make clothes and decorate cakes.

When Brown starts creating, she has to figure out how to balance making her projects with her other extracurricular activities, including gymnastics.

“The hardest part of 4-H is finding how to do the projects and not biting off more than you can chew, which I do a lot,” Brown said.

Through trial and error, Brown has to work through different methods and ideas for each of her projects.

“Sometimes you try to do something and it’s just not going to work, you have to figure out a way around it and problem solve,” Brown said.

To find inspiration, Brown uses a variety of resources to spark her creativity. She says she goes to stores, watches YouTube videos, looks at other people’s projects, reads books and scrolls through Pinterest. One of Brown’s favorite projects in 4-H is cupcake frosting. This year, she made cupcakes decorated with sushi made of fondant on top. 

“I made sushi cupcakes one year, and that was fun because they looked a lot like sushi, and I enjoyed making the set up. I had a board and little chopsticks and wasabi and stuff on the side… [Fondant] probably wouldn’t be the best thing to eat a whole bunch of, but it works for the purpose of just decorating cupcakes,” Brown said. “I think it’s really fun because it’s basically modeling clay or Play Dough, except you’re able to eat it. I enjoyed making the set up.”

When it is time to present her projects at the 4-H fair, Brown only has to wait for the judges to decide if she will receive a ribbon for her project.

“I’m always nervous beforehand because I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness. I have to talk to actual people,’” Brown said. “But then, it’s fun because they give you advice and talk about their experiences, and you talk about what you did, and it’s cool.”

With all of her experience and the advice from the judges, Brown prepares for next summer with new projects.