Backstory: During the first COVID lockdown, with the stay at home order, I thought it would a good idea to improve my chocolate skills by making multiple showpieces at home: an iceberg with a polar bear, a queen bee on top of her honey box, and a large chocolate animal. Most of the showpieces were not as good as I’d imagined them to be, but with each of these projects I was able to learn something and improve my skills a little along the way.
By the fourth mini chocolate showpiece, I was running out of ideas. My friend Bertie suggested something musical. After a few brainstorming sessions, Megan and I narrowed it down: french horn, piano, or violin. The piano seemed like a cool idea (and was well-suited to the Elton John soundtrack we had going at the time) but we wouldn’t be able to do it at full scale, so that was out. We soon found some resources online – a guide to building a violin. How perfect! Why not use some of the material out there to assist with the build of our chocolate violin? Here we go!
I’m going to attempt to recap my experiences, difficulties, and successes. My goal is to continue learning and developing my skills, and maybe my experiences will be useful or at least interesting to someone else. I hope to continue with this and will try to do a better job of documenting and sharing my future projects. Here’s a recap of my experience with the violin:
- the violin body: we started here. This was pretty easy to do. We had to create a top piece, bottom piece, and ribs to connect them. We made all the pieces using a simple frame to cast a sheet of chocolate, then cut the required shape with a stencil before chocolate was fully set. A major consideration was how thick each piece should be. We ended up casting sheets about 1/4″ thick. In retrospect, thinner would have been better, in particular for the the ribs which needed to be bent before they set. Thinner pieces would have been a little easier to curve.
- the neck: we were a little constrained by the size of our frame for this. We ended up cutting multiple outlines with the stencil to glue together to make this piece. We also ended up having to redo this a few times (mostly due to poor planning). The first neck was too thin and cracked when we tried to drill holes at the top. The second neck looked much better but we realized we didn’t plan for the hole at the top (where the strings are anchored). It was too difficult to cut at that point, so we had to redo it. By the third attempt, we realized we needed the pieces to be a bit thinner so that we could stack more of them together, this would allow us more control over the angle when we glued them together. We used the template as a reference for the degree of the angle here.
- the fingerboard: we cast this in a thinner sheet and cut it according to the template. We then let it set in a curved object (a baguette pan) to get the right shape.
- the strings: in the end, we never got around to adding the strings. If I were to add them, I would probably pour a thin sheet of chocolate and use a trowel to create thin lines of chocolate (or maybe try piping some very thin, very straight lines of chocolate by hand).
- colour: I wasn’t fully satisfied with the final colour (but it was time to move on). I started off by applying one shade a brown, which it turns out I didn’t really like…then I used a mix of white and darker brown (only partially mixed so that streaks of white and lighter brown remained) and applied this using a brush to create a wood grain effect. The accessories I airbrushed in either black or brown cocoa butter prior to assembly.