A while back I said I'd post some pics of my giant 2' Santa. This is my first one of this season:
O.K. So it's only 20", I lied....
After cleaning and polishing out the mold, I do the lightest colour features first--fur trim, beard, and pupils. This is done with white couverture
Next comes the dark colour features--toy sack, boots, hat, and eyes. 70% dark couverture, of course.
Next come the mittens. This is coloured cocoa butter, it has to brushed on in several layers. Red mittens are some what "De rigour" in Vancouver, a 2010 Winter Olympic tradition....
Now all remaining "bald" areas are brushed out with 38% milk chocolate couverture. This is an important step, if avoided, I might get air bubbles trapped behind the mold surface which show up later as holes. These usually happen in small tight crevices Iike the nose, or clothing folds. Notice I brushed over the red mittens with milk choc. we'll see how they turn out later.
Eh... what's a little bondage among friends, eh?
The mold never came with clips and it was left up to me how to clamp the sucker together. Last year I used wood worker's "C" clamps to join the two halves together. But it was kind of cumbersome, and I was always afraid I would crack the mold when I put slight pressure on the clamp's small pads. Packing tape works very well for this purpose, and I can put a decent amount of tension on the mold when I wrap it around. If the two halves are two loose, chocolate will creep out and form a thick "flash" which has to be removed, and leaves a scar.
Fill 'er up.....
Here I'm ladleing the mold full of couverture, it then has to be swirled around and dumped out. I can't let the layers get too thick, or I'll get some serious problems with "latent heat build-up". That is, the chocolate can't cool down fast enough and goes out of temper, turns grey-white, AND sticks like a (deleted) to the mold. So I build up the figure in layers. Usually two layers will give me a shell that is thick enough to support the whole structure--and weighs around 3.5 kgs. Theoritically I could make the Santa solid, I'd just have to continue pouring in layers and cooling in between. Of course it weigh in over 7 kg's and really drive up the price....
Here's the money shot, didn't turn out too bad, eh?
You'd be surprised by the amount of static electricity the mold generates when I take the top half off. The electricity will pick up crumbs from almost 2 feet away and stick them on the surface.
The white couverture is fairly thin, even though I brushed on two layers, and some of the milk choc is peeking behind it. Then again, If I brush on 3 layers of white it almost looks too plastick-y and white.
If you look at the boots, you will see some milk chocolate creeping around the very bottom, I'm still working on how to get rid of this--it used to be worse last year, I would get milk choc. creeping around the toy sack and hat too. This problem comes from the very nature of chocolate-- it shrinks as it cools, so if I brush on one layer of one colour of chocolate, and then pour in another colour, the second colour creeps in between the mold and the first colour. Capillary action, maybe. There's a few more tricks I'll try to combat this, but the best method to avoid this is to work very quickly.
The Santa is very top-heavy, the gut and toy sack are very large and the feet/boots fairly small. I've cast on almost 1" thick chocolate "soles" on the boots to put a little weight on the bottom, But the figure is by nature quite tippy.
The Santa is packaged in a heavy box and then cellophaned and gussied up with ribbons and the like. The box is neccesary to keep the figure upright.
Thanks for looking,