Whether she’s decorating cakes or painting masterpieces, Norah Vanderweide is immersed in creativity


Sophomore Norah Vanderweide posing at the Inn at Bay Harbor

Sophomore Norah Vanderweide finds herself engaged in not one but two artistically impressive pastimes. Having a multitude of creative outlets has allowed Norah to truly discover and experiment with who she is, and she wouldn’t be the same without them.

“Baking and painting give me a way to express myself and show myself without having to explain certain parts of me,” Norah said. “It gives me a space where I can think and not be distracted by everything around me and myself.”

The mural at Norah’s cottage.

She discovered her creativity for art when she was young and has stuck with it ever since. Through her talents and abilities, she has found many chances to explore and experiment with different forms of art.

“I first started to paint and get creative with my artistic side when I was in first grade,” Norah said. “I’ve grown up around lots of art and people who inspire me, so that’s part of my inspiration. I love the freedom and the creativity it gives me and that there aren’t any boundaries in my mind. It gives me a space to relax and not have to worry about the outside world. It’s not only painting, but art in general that helps me find myself.”

One of Norah’s cake designs that show of some of her painting skills too.

Norah channels her skills for baking and painting through a variety of projects; she is currently working on a sunset mural for her cottage and is in the sculptures and ceramics class to find new ways to express her creativity.

“I’m currently painting a mural in my cottage, and I tend to love painting with thicker, rougher paints that give my ideas life and texture,” Norah said. “When I’m not painting, I love doing pottery. I’m in sculpture and ceramics, and I love the way that the clay feels and helps me recognize myself more thoroughly through creativity.”

Another of her cake designs centered around candy.

In addition to painting, Norah also runs a website where she makes and decorates cakes. She started baking when she was young and has since made a variety of wedding and birthday cakes with ornately detailed designs.

One of her more ornate designs with detailed flowers.

“I like to make cakes mostly because of the designs and how they look,” Norah said. “I love baking cakes for kids’ birthdays and wedding cakes the most. I started my business when I was about 12, but I haven’t been making cakes as much recently, mostly because I don’t have time, but I still love making them.”

Norah’s inspiration for her business, and for baking in general, has come from both her love of art and making things and an interest in business. 

“I started baking when I was really young, and my mom runs her own website,” Norah said. “I put the two together and formed something out of my passions. I typically do wedding, birthday, and everyday cakes.  I love the look of boho, simplicity, minimalism, and greenery, along with combinations [for my cakes].”

Her unique passions give her a diverse outlook on life, and her ways of expressing creativity allow her to see the world around her from an optimistic and lively perspective. Her artistry and ingenuity all play a key role in her work.

“I mostly find my inspiration from things in my daily life and mind,” Norah said. “I’m a big sunset person and love the colors and patterns that spread across the sky. The colors and simplicity of the earth we live on really draws me in and inspires me.  I love creating things based on my gut feelings and what makes me happy.”

Her inspiration and creativity are helpful assets in her life but can be brought down in the strive for perfection. Although Norah will always find joy in her artistic pastimes, she also feels the pressure to succeed. However, no matter the pressure baking and painting will always provide an escape for Norah to truly be herself.

“I love the tasks themselves, but when it comes to my perfectionism, it can be tricky,” Norah said. “Sometimes it can be hard to balance the two, but I find the time, so I have an outlet for myself and my feelings.  I think it’s really important that I give myself that opportunity to take a break and breath through everything that goes on in my life and be able to know I have my space where I can go to think and just be.”