Raelyn Webster is a South Jordan resident who enjoys making elaborate Christmas-themed sculptures out of candy almost as much as she enjoys eating it. Webster is an artist for South Jordan’s annual Candy Windows event, but she has been making colorful creations out of candy for more than 10 years.
This year will be the third for South Jordan’s Candy Windows, and Webster has been an integral part each year. Since spring, she has been working with about five new artists to design five new candy structures. The new displays combine with five from last year to make up the candy sculptures for this year’s event.
“I just remember that the ZCMI windows were such a magical thing to me. It was so many people coming together and getting their minds thinking differently about candy and creativity,” Webster said. “The hope is that, over time, we can build a similar following here in South Jordan.”
Dating back to about the 1970s, ZCMI would unveil large, colorful candy displays in its windows the night after Thanksgiving, and the store would leave them up throughout December. Webster has fond memories of those times.
“My favorite thing used to be going to ZCMI and looking at their windows for Christmas, and I always dreamed of getting to do that one day too.”
Webster estimates that some of the bigger sculptures she’s done have taken up to a thousand hours of work and candy. She plans the design, buys and sorts the candy, assembles the structure and installs it in the business’s window.
“I like to use a variety of candy because you want different textures and colors,” Webster said. “Some candies hold up better to the exposure and the sun, and some colors fade faster. Everything is perfect in my head, but once you start using candy, it’s not perfect anymore.”
This year she faced an unfamiliar challenge. In early November, Webster was walking down her driveway when she tripped and broke her hand.
“I can still glue candy, but it’s slower and more difficult with one hand . . . So a lot of friends and neighbors have helped me. Also, the South Jordan Youth Council has been helping since the beginning,” Webster said.
Before she worked for South Jordan’s event, Webster spent seven years designing candy window displays in Provo. She attended school there as a design major at Brigham Young University.
“I like to create things,” Webster said.
She isn’t the only creative one in her family. Webster’s grandmother dabbled in oil painting as she got older. She also has two nieces with artistic talent: one is an illustrator and the other is a graphic designer.
Webster’s husband Bill is an engineer, so he helps her with building the structures.
“He’s my technical and structural engineer. He makes sure that the thing doesn’t fall apart or fall over,” Webster said. “He likes to build stuff. He enjoys the problem solving involved with it.”
Webster’s family jokes around with her about her candy-themed hobby, but every year they show up to see what she’s created.
“My dad says that it’s a waste of good candy. He always comes and sees it though, but he does always make that comment when he sees it,” Webster said.
Despite her family’s jibes, Webster wants to keep creating for many years to come.
“I like to see peoples’ reactions to it, especially kids,’ when they see it and they recognize the candy. That’s why I do it,” she said.