Saturday, 6 February 2010

I'm not sure...

I used to work in the chemical industry before I went back into university research. People always laugh when I tell them my industry job was watching paint dry, even though that was actually what I got paid to do on a day to day basis. One of the best thing about the work however (other than the fact I had access to a great deal of very good very cheap paint) was that our plant site was shared with a confectionary company and we had a joint staff shop. Never before have I ever seen a shop that sold only floor varnish, satin emulsion, weedkiller and massive quantities of chocolate. I hold them solely responsible for my addiction to Galaxy caramel and my hatred of the smell of acrylic monomers.

Claire, from Blackcatswhiskers, who makes (amongst other things) the most wonderful button jewellery - you can see it here: - asked if I'd ever made charms shaped like chocolate drops. I hadn't, but I'm always up for a challenge. Bizarrely, given that I consider chocolate to be one of the four major important food groups (the others being coffee, cheese and red wine) it's been an awfully long time since I last ate a packet of them.

They are not how I remember at all. I remember them being really brightly coloured - the sort of colours that make kids hyperactive and are banned in most EU countries - where as now they are sort of pale and a little bit insipid looking. They aren't as regularly shaped as I remember either - there are some seriously mutant ones hiding in the box I'm eating as I type. They are also larger than they used to be and they taste different.

I used to love smarties - I still have my gruesome greenies plastic pouch and my glow in the dark smartians somewhere. I loved it when they printed footballs or funny faces on them and when they hid white chocolate ones in the packs. A quick look on the back revealed that they'd replaced the artifical colourings with natural colourings.

Meh. If I eat sweets I am making an active choice to ingest stuff that isn't good for me, I don't want it to be a way of sneakily making sure I eat my vegtables.

But the saddest thing is the demise of the tube :( I feel like part of my childhood has been stolen. The best thing about smarties was the tube, you could smack an empty tube hard and fire the lid acros the room. And I loved the letters on the caps too. They have questions on them now too - and of the three packets I have here (for research purposes) the answer is incorrect on one of them. I guess children aren't allowed to choke on educational things any more.

This little experiment is therefore a two part practical class. I want to make chocolate drops past and present. I'm going to start with making a model of what I can see before I try to resurrect the ghost of chocolates past.

I learnt a long time ago that the easiest way to understand something is to take it apart and see how it works. Even with an item as simple as a chocolate drop, the satisfaction of smacking something with a hammer is immense.

Chocolate centres, white coating, coloured outside.

As far as the colourings go, the easiest colour match for the clay I have is red. It's almost spot on; although the colours aren't as uniform any more either and the surface is slightly dappled.

Inside first! They aren't a uniform mass any more, but I need something smaller as I have to do two more layers on top of this.

Now the white layer...

then the outer shell..

Spot the difference! (I'll give you a hint, two are real!)

Lily of the valley sugarcraft cutters make great bite marks, so it's a fair test to see if the inside looks okay. As they are charms, I pierced them before baking them. If you bake polymer clay at a slightly higer temperature, you will cause crazing on the surface, so that was perfect to mimic the cracks in the shell of the bitten one. A quick going over with a hand engraving tool added the surface dappling/crazing and satin varnish (which I have had in the cupboard since I left my 9 - 5 job) is added for the shine.

Hmmm... they are a pretty good match, but somehow I think there is a little room for some artistic license here. I want them to be pretty, I want them to be shiny, I want them to look how I remember... be continued


CreatedandFelted said...

This was such a joy to read. thank you so much.

wellydog said...

Excellent, I had forgotten about the firing of the tube lid across the room, now I remember why I ate loads of them, well done