Instructables

How to sculpt chocolate

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How to make chocolate sculptures on a budget

Most store-bought Easter eggs are disappointingly bland in design. Even the fanciest high-end chocolate eggs tend to be cast in a simple design with, if you're lucky, a few swirls of caramel or chocolate drizzled artistically across the top. Given the limitations of mass production this is understandable, but there's no reason why extremely detailed and creative chocolate sculptures can't be produced on a smaller scale.

Slightly late for Easter, this Instructable will show you how to make your very own overly-elaborate chocolate sculptures, using this newly hatched chick and egg as an example. Very little skill is required and the only specialist material needed is cheaply available from most good plumbing or DIY retailers.

While some of the details of this project are specific to this bird sculpture, all of the principles can be adapted and applied to sculpting whatever you want from chocolate.


 
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Step 1: What you'll need

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Ingredients.jpg
Relatively few materials are needed for this project, but make sure that you select them carefully (see the warnings below).
  • Modelling clay (plasticine) - make sure that this is non-toxic. You'll need enough to sculpt an original model of whatever you've decided to make.
  • Food grade silicone - also make sure that this is non-toxic. Various types of silicone available on the market are advertised as "food safe". Some of these are designed specifically for the purpose of making moulds and tend to be extremely expensive, but also hard-wearing and capable of capturing incredibly fine details. These often come as two-part resins.Other types are not designed for this purpose at all, but are instead intended to be used as sealants in kitchen areas, on surfaces which may come into contact with food. One of these types of food grade silicone comes in a cylindrical cartridge and does not need to be mixed before use. This is the type we are going to use. Because it is intended for such an unglamorous purpose, it is extremely cheap. It should still be entirely safe to use, since we are only using it as a cooling surface for the chocolate.
  • A non-toxic release agent, such as cooking oil - this is to prevent the plasticine sticking to the silicone. Cooking oil is ideal, and often comes available in a spray.
  • Plaster of Paris - ideally already impregnated into gauze (also known as modroc), but you can do this step yourself. Be careful if you have a known plaster allergy.
  • Lots of chocolate! How much you need will depend on your sculpture, as will your choice of colour(s). Make sure you choose high-quality chocolate that is suitable for melting and cooking.
The following bits of kit will be needed:
  • Sculpting tools - you can get by with just a sharp knife, but it's nice to have a few differently shaped sticks, scoops, scrapers and picks for if you need them. Carving sets are available in most art shops, but you can usually get by with household implements such as spoons, pens, screwdrivers, lollipop sticks, etc.
  • Sealant gun - make sure this fits whatever size of silicone cartridge you use
  • Craft knife
  • Double boiler or bain-marie
  • Mixing bowls
  • Refrigerator
An important warning about plasticine and silicone:

Different types of modelling clay contain different chemical compounds. Similarly, different forms of silicone sealant react in different ways. Sometimes unfortunate cross-reactions can occur which make a particular type of clay stick to a particular type of silicone. Needless to say, this is very frustrating when it happens mid-project.

Before you begin, be sure to test your materials together by covering a small amount of your modelling clay with silicone and letting it set. If they separate easily once the silicone has cured, then you're all set to carry on with the project. If they stick together and lots of modelling clay is left on the silicone, then find another type of clay (ideally one that does not contain sulphur) and try again.

Experiment a bit here. You might find that a thin layer of release agent (i.e. oil) between the clay and the silicone solves this problem, or you might find that no release agent is needed at all. I can't stress strongly enough how useful it is to test this before you start the rest of the project.

In the test run for this project, I accidentally used the wrong sort of modelling clay and had to spend hours scrubbing a thin layer of plasticine off all of my moulds. Prevention is definitely better than the cure*.

*Ho ho.
thats awesome. did you eat it?
PenfoldPlant (author)  makincoolstuff3 years ago
Thanks! I resisted eating it for about a week, but have just started to pick it apart from the base upwards. Yum.
kumiko3 years ago
This is very realistic chocolate sculpture. WOW. I loved how your chick looks like a dragon baby rather than a real chick. It looks lethal. <3

Can you make a guess on what happened with your mold release? Is there a way that I can find out before buying an item to know whether a mold release is compatible with the silicone or not?
PenfoldPlant (author)  kumiko3 years ago
Ha, maybe it is a dragon. Just to be safe, I should eat it before it learns how to breathe cocoa-scented fireballs.

My main problem is that I attempted this project without using any sort of mould release agent. I did a small test run using a different brand of plasticine and that turned out fine without a release agent, so I assumed that it would be fine for all plasticines. Then when I tried it a second time, the plasticine stuck to the silicone. I've read online that some plasticine which contains sulphur can cause awkward reactions with silicone, so that might have been the problem with my second batch.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you any way to find out about compatibility of specific materials, other than testing for yourself. I can tell you, however, that using an oil-based release agent with hugely decrease the chances of the plasticine sticking to the silicone.

Good luck and let me know how it turns out!
Biggsy3 years ago
This is amazing dude, well done... I expect it's in the post to me now yeah?
PenfoldPlant (author)  Biggsy3 years ago
Of course! I've just realised that I, um, forgot to put a stamp on it. Er yes, that would explain why it might be returned to its sender, right?
DAAAMMMNNN YOOOOOUUU! :)
canida3 years ago
Wow, this turned out beautifully! Fantastic job, and very thoroughly explained.
I definitely appreciate the "how not to" segments - they're often the most valuable.
PenfoldPlant (author)  canida3 years ago
Thanks, I'm glad you like it!
Sometimes I think I could write whole Instructables on how not to make things... *sigh*
poofrabbit3 years ago
WOW! This is very easy to follow as well as simply amazing! I'm going to have give this a try, with your instructions I actually think I can pull it off! 5 stars!
PenfoldPlant (author)  poofrabbit3 years ago
Thanks, poofrabbit. If you do try it out, I'd love to see what you make! Feel free to post photos in the comments...
mikeasaurus3 years ago
cool! I wondered how this was done, thanks for sharing!
PenfoldPlant (author)  mikeasaurus3 years ago
Well, I'm not sure if this is how it's usually done, but it seems to work!