There is so much that goes into creating a piece of art, and it doesn’t include just good solid techniques. At times like this morning it requires a willingness to persevere even when it’s not going quite right. The pieces just weren’t going together well, and my partner and I weren’t working together well. Chef Leroux kept walking by and telling us it wasn’t flowing. Neither of us could figure out why when he visited our piece he could hold up an element and it looked beautiful but as soon as he was gone we couldn’t recreate it.
This is the moment when one has to know to walk away and come back fresh when one’s mind won’t wallow in thoughts of we’re never going to finish and this is the worst piece in the class. We stuck with it and eventually the pieces began to flow together. We were finally able to get the base all together and thankfully my partner took on the hairsplitting task of carrying the piece across the room to the spray booth.
After spraying with a good base coat of colored cocoa butter we attached the finishing elements including the leaves and flower. The leaves were pretty straightforward but attaching the flower was another hairsplitting experience. When attaching sculptural elements with chocolate it is not as simple as just gluing them on. One has to find a balance between holding the piece long enough for the chocolate to set up but delicately enough that it doesn’t melt in your hands. You also have to take care that you use enough chocolate glue for it to stick together but not so much that it creates messy globs all over your sculpture.
By mid afternoon we had finished! Four long days of learning and work had finally come together into a beautiful chocolate showpiece. And much to my delight we had actually done a mighty fine job. Even the Chef admitted that earlier he was concerned we might not do well but we had really pulled it together into a nice piece. After an emotionally trying morning wondering how we would ever finish hearing this kind of praise was relieving. Sure it was easy for me to look back and and see where the mistakes were and write a list of everything that could be better. However it was also easy to look at it and think about all the great things I had learned, some of which I learned by having this forum to make mistakes in. I could also look at it and see all the great things that had been accomplished; we had a made a beautiful piece, executed a lot of new techniques, and made lots of great design choices.
There were a total of ten different sculptures made, each beautiful and while based on the same designs rach was a little different, reflecting the people who made them. There is much a person learns at an intensive course that goes beyond how to manipulate chocolate. This week taught me patience, it taught me how to work in collaboration with someone else, it taught me that its ok if it isn’t perfect and it taught me lots of times less is more. Stephan Leroux has written books about sculpture and I’m sure they are filled with great technique but no amount of reading could compare to hands on one on one with a master.