Baker’s Hours

December 10, 2008

Chocolate Dragon Progression

First of all before starting this post, I would like to say two things. Firstly, I have to apologize to several people whom I promised to have this post written a month ago. Sorry, things at work are starting to pick up which means less internet time. Second, my apologies to my readers for the low quality images. They are scans of photos I had taken during the dragon’s creation. I look at these pictures and chastise myself, “Why didn’t you take those pictures with an SLR!” Anywho, here is how I made the Chocolate Dragon… Enjoy!

Now, I’ve been lurking around the internet for quite some time, and it wouldn’t be very difficult to track down my cyber footprint. Probably my biggest footprint of all is the picture of my Chocolate Dragon carving. It has been featured on Deviant Art, and I have it posted on Digg, Foodbuzz, Photobucket, Facebook and here on Baker’s Hours. No matter where people come across it, the reactions are always the same.

“This is amazing! So much detail, and out of chocolate!” ~Peppercorn Press posted here on Baker’s Hours.

“This is absolutely stunning!” ~flutterbyfae on Deviant Art

“WOW!!!!!!!!!!!” ~De La Chocolate on Dessertprofessional.com

WordPress guru, the fabulous Lorelle VanFossen, even mentioned it during the internet stream of Podcamp Hawaii.

Once the “WOW” factor wears off, the question that always pops up next is, “How did you do it?” So, to all the people out there who have asked me that very question, this post is for you!

Stage One: The Body

Here you can see the bare bones so to speak. Basically, I started with a snake.

The base is pretty much straight forward. I poured chocolate into a sheet pan, cut it, and then glued the two pieces together using tacky chocolate.

I did the serpentine in different arcs, and pieced them together the way I wanted them to flow. And no I’m not going to tell you how I did it! I put a lot of thought into how to get it perfect, so I’m not about to give out that information. I then carved the head and lower jaw separately and attached them to the body.

Stage Two: Arms & Legs

As you can see, I added the arms/legs. One of the beautiful things about chocolate carving is that you don’t necessarily have to carve the entire thing out of a solid block of chocolate, you can form or carve the different pieces separately and just attach them. You will see in later pictures that it allows you to addkokkki greater detail this way.

Stage Three: Details

Here you can see the next progression of my dragon sculpture. As you can see I added the hands/feet. They were probably the hardest thing on this piece to carve. It took multiple tries to get them the way I wanted. It probably would have been easier to shape one out of clay, and make a mold, but I wanted each claw to be individual. No one has exactly the same looking feet or the exact same hands, so why would my dragon. The average onlooker probably wouldn’t have noticed, but I would damn it.

You can clearly see the scales and belly plates in this picture. I really liked the look of the arch of the body, especially where you can see the point where the scales and belly plates meet. The hard part about the scales was the symmetry. It would have been easy to do the standard serpentine look like in those old maritime pictures, but I wanted more realistic movement in this piece.

To ensure that the scales covered the came distance across the body no matter how the dragon turned, I used a two foot long piece of metal wire. I started at the top of the head, and pressed the wire into the chocolate along where I imagined the spine would be. When I pulled out the wire, it left a line which ran down the center of the dragon’s back. Next I used a six inch piece of wire (with the center marked), and at various points along the body (about an inch apart) lined up the center of the wire with the center line (making 90 degree angles), and pressed the wire into the chocolate, forming the “ribs” so to speak. Now, I used the two foot wire again, and this time pressed it into the sides of the body where the “ribs” ended. This now gave me a grid to follow, so that no matter how the body turned, the width of the scale layer was exactly six inches across.

The addition of the rock formation with the balls in them came later. As much and I liked the look of the middle of the piece, I felt that it needed some color. It also made sense to have the rock formation there. It gave the appearance that the dragon was climbing over it, and as such instilling some movement in the piece.

Stage Four: More Detail

At this stage, you can see that it is almost done. The only thing that is missing is ball in the front, the horns, the crown (the cool spiky stuff I put on his head), and the flame running down its back to the tail.

Stage Five: Rock Formation

Here is a closer look at the rock formation that I added to give the appearance that the dragon was climbing over it. The balls were made with the use of spherical molds.

When coloring any kind of mold, you have to work backwards. In this case, I added some red candy color to some white chocolate, and then with the tip of my finger applied the color to the mold. After allowing the red layer to set, I applied the white layer. After that set, then I filled the molds with dark chocolate, and there you go. The “rocks”, were made by filling a bain marie with ice cubes (Don’t pack them too much) and poured chocolate over the ice. After a few minuted, I emptied out the bain marie, and allowed the ice to melt leaving the coral like formation that you see in the picture.

Stage Six: Beginning of the Head

Here is the start of the head. Contrary to belief, when carving chocolate, you don’t start with a rectangular block, you start with a shape that is closest to what you want the end product to be. For the head, I started with half an egg shape, and widdled it down until I got the shape that you see. The lower jaw started as a 2″ thick oval that I also widdled into the shape I wanted. Once completed, I attached them to the body with tacky chocolate.

Stage Seven: Head Details

Here is the next progression of the dragon head. I added the teeth, and tongue, as well as the frilly stuff around the mouth. I have no idea what is the purpose of the frilly stuff, but I noticed that dogs had this odd layer separate from their gums, so I added it, and it looks kinda cool.

Another idea I got from dogs are the nose ridges that they get when they growl, so I added those as well. The nostrils I made by heating up a piece of metal round bar and literally dug out the dragon’s nose. The heat from the bar melted the chocolate upon contact.

The Ball, aside from adding some color to the piece, is representative of the Chinese belief that Dragons could be lured away by a ball of light. You can also get a good look at the hands which has five fingers, which means that this is an Imperial dragon. The Chinese believed that the more fingers a dragon had, the older it was, and thus represented some one important.

An interesting note about dragons that I found while researching for this project is that the Japanese and Chinese both believe that Dragons originate from their respective homelands. Japanese Dragons are born with two-three fingers. The Japanese believe that the dragon grows fingers as it gets older, and then they eventually travel west towards China, which is why the Chinese Dragons have four-five fingers. The Chinese, on the other hand, believe that dragons are born with five fingers. As they get older, they travel east towards Japan, and lose fingers as they age.

Oh and incase you didn’t notice, the dragon in the above picture is bald! I’ll explain about that in the next stage.

Stage Eight: Completed Head

Here is a close up shot of the completed head of the carving. You can clearly see the crown that I added. You can’t really see the horns because they are swept back. I tried various types of horns, but they always ended up looking like antlers, or worse, like Bulwinkle horns. I had almost given up until I ate at a Chinese restaurant that had a mural of a dragon on the wall. The dragon on the wall had swept back horns. It was a true eureka moment.

Another thing that got from that mural was the sort of flared out flame looking things on the back of the head. They aren’t ears, I don’t really know what they are, but they looked cool in the mural, so I added them to the piece.

Stage Nine: Completion

To complete the Dragon, I added the back spikes that are common in almost any artist’s rendering of a dragon. To add more fluidity (not to mention the fact that it looked cool) I used modeling chocolate to give the back spikes a flame like appearance, which I connected with the flame on the tail.

Here is a rear view of the completed dragon carving. From this point of view, you can see the swept back horns that I mentioned in the previous picture. You can also get a really good look at the scales. I also added another rock formation at the back to add some color.

I was very proud of this piece when I finished it. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to come out as nice as it did, and even contemplated not entering this into the competition because I knew that it was going to be auctioned off. Still I took solace in the knowledge that it was for charity. Another thing people always ask me after seeing my dragon is what happened to it after the auction? Once the auction ended, I don’t know where this piece was taken. I’d like to think that whomever bought it put it on display for a bit for a few more people to enjoy before dismembering it piece by piece, and devouring it.

Occasionally, I run into people whom after finding out that I carved this chocolate dragon say that they had seen it in some publication. I have also met culinary students who say that pictures of my dragon circulate their respective schools here in Hawaii. I’ve even hear tell of it appearing in a commercial. Although I have never seen said publications, it’s nice to know that my dragon still lives on in some form or another.

Song stuck in my heat at the time of this post: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Bing Crosby

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5 Comments »

  1. […] Originally posted […]

    Pingback by Chocolate Dragon Progression | catveranda.com — December 10, 2008 @ 9:25 am

  2. wonderful! you’re a master! so who got to eat it?

    Comment by Katherine (kfinches) — December 10, 2008 @ 10:04 am

  3. Wow! This is really an impressive work of art. Can’t imagine the amount of work involved.

    Comment by Mei — December 10, 2008 @ 12:24 pm

  4. I’ve never seen this before but I have a shop called Nine Dragons Sculpture Art and this link came in my google alert…love this!!! As an artist I love to hear about creation process as much as see the work…thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Sue Choppers-Wife — December 10, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

  5. hai this realy very nice carving i saw iam also doing some carving iam woking in INtercontinental the lalit mumbai india. in bakery & pastry dept, as chef de party.

    Comment by mangesh sangpal — December 26, 2008 @ 5:23 am


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