At the Miami Fine Chocolate & Food Show in Pinecrest Gardens March 8-10, 2013, sculptor Paul Joachim http://artedibles.com/ stayed busy creating a larger-than-life statue of Miami Heat basketball player LeBron James.
Joachim worked in a corner of the alcohol tent, far from the chocolate tasting tables in the Hibiscus Room (normally an art gallery) just inside the garden’s entrance, where his current chocolate provider, Davis Chocolate of Mishawaka, Indiana, was offering samples.
Joachim graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. “We did not do a lot of sculpture in school,” he says. “After I graduated I did not do art for years. Then I discoved self-expression through chocolate sculpture. First I tried clay, but I find chocolate easier to sculpt with.
“Usually I work from photos, but for practice I still occasionally do a chocolate sculpture session with a model at the Maitland Art Center in Maitland Florida, where I work in chocolate with other sculptors who are working in other materials.”
Describing the process
First Joachim collects photos of what he is going to sculpt. Then he calculates how much chocolate and cake the statue will require. He builds the statue’s infrastructure with PVC and MDF wood along with l-brackets. “Then any portion that is going to be eaten I cover the PVC and the wood with food grade paper.”
“I use the ganache to create smoothness and gloss on my pieces. It's a finishing technique, like a patina on a traditional sculpture. Sometimes I use it for structure, but since I was working outside in Miami, I didn't want to chance having it not hold up. It’s just chocolate and cream!”
Joachim’s greatest concern is not chocolate melting; that is now controlled. He worries that
small unsupervised children may get too close to his statue and knock it over on themselves.
Joachim likes to be close to his audience. He’s the father of a son and daughter, and concerned for parents who don’t keep their children at a safe distance – an issue for all artists at shows.
LeBron and other statues
Joachim has created 11 full-sized chocolate statues. LeBron James’s is the largest, standing nine and a half feet tall. “I used about 200 pounds of chocolate,” Joachim says. “It took a total of about 25 hours. I started Thursday for a segment on the Deco Drive TV show and finished Sunday afternoon. To do a piece that large in that amount of time is quick.”
Other life size figures include the family rescue dog, Marty; his children; a jazz musician, a model, and a yoga practitioner.
“How the cake tastes is just as important as how the chocolate tastes,” Joachim says. “My cakes are made from scrach with the finest ingredients. My five-foot eight-inch jazz musician with his saxaphone yielded 480 servings of cake.”
The Davis Chocolate connection
Brent Davis, president of Davis Chocolate, found Paul Joachim a year ago sculpting the jazz musician at a chocolate event in Orlando. “We talked and I learned that Paul needed a chocolate that he could use to sculpt with outdoors in Florida. He had tried other chocolate makers and they weren’t able to create chocolate that could withstand Florida’s heat.
In January, Davis invited Joachim to his plant to assist in creating a chocolate that would not melt in hot summer weather in Florida and elsewhere around the country.
“We created three types of chocolate – one for inside with air conditioning, one for outside before it gets very hot, and one for hot temperatures and high humidity,” Davis says.
“Davis created a recipe for high-heat modeling chocolate, with four parts chocolate and one part corn syrup,” says Joachim. “I mix the chocolate and set it aside to harden. Then I knead the chocolate like bread or microwave it to make it pliable. I’ve home-tested the dark chocolate to 90 degrees. Brent and I plan to refine the recipe and eventually offer the chocolate for sale to other artists.”
Now Joachim is working to create a chocolate for sculpting that he can ship without the sculpture cracking.
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