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Edible artefacts and making old things in chocolate

Posted on: 3rd March 2017 By: Tess Machling

The brains behind the upcoming chocolate workshop, Tess" Machling, gives us an insight in this process, and what led her to create these edible delights!

"I am lucky enough to work with a very talented museum replica maker, Roland Williamson. He makes amazing and authentic copies of any number of artefacts from Saxon bone combs and exquisite banded wooden buckets through to Iron Age swords and Bronze Axe axes.

We also work together researching Iron Age gold torcs and, in one of those idle conversations you have, one day we talked about how great it would be to make a chocolate torc! This idea rapidly developed and within days I had sourced the materials.

I made a wax copy of the terminal of the Netherurd torc terminal (which is held in the National Museum of Scotland). I then covered this model in food grade silicon moulding putty, allowed it to set and then carefully, and this is the tricky part, cut it off in two parts, effectively creating a silicon mould of the original. The pieces of the mould were then re-assembled, chocolate poured in and…tadah…a chocolate torc terminal! However, my limitations as a model maker were obvious and it was also brown, not gold as I wanted. Hmmmm….

So next step was to colour it: luckily there are many great cake making products that you can use and I soon found edible paints that could be brushed on to give the desired effect. But again, the effect is only ever as good as the ability of the model maker….and I’m really not that great. Good job Roland is!

Of course, working with Roland, I have access to many wonderful objects that I can mould from and so far I have made a white chocolate Viking bone comb, various flint and bronze axes, a Bronze Age Sussex loop bracelet, arrowheads and a chocolate Presidential medal for the Prehistoric Society, who I work for. My two favourites so far are a copy of a Saxon cruciform brooch known as Mrs Getty’s brooch and a choccy copy of a Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Armorican axe which is held in St Albans Museum.

Having St Albans Museums so close to hand has been great as they have kindly allowed me to, non-destructively, model several of their items. If you’d like to find out more about my chocolate making, handle some of Roland’s exquisite replicas , hear about how they are made - and have a go at painting your own chocolate replica to take home - then please book for our workshop . It promises to be great fun!"

The Chocolate replicas – seeing double workshop is at Verulamium Museum on Thursday 11th May, 7pm – 9.30pm
You will learn about the process and have a go at painting your own chocolate object to take away. Tickets are £20.00 and includes a glass of wine or soft drink.
Tickets can be booked in person at the museum or by phone on 01727 751 810.