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Binkley Carves a Portrait Bust Sculpture in Chocolate

binkley carving chocolate sculpture

This past weekend, I completed an interesting commission. I carved a portrait bust of a prominent Vancouver businessman in chocolate. That’s right – a 20 kilogram block of delicious dark Belgian chocolate!

As the sculpture is a surprise gift, we cannot yet reveal the identity of the subject. Check back in a few weeks to find out who he is.

I was approached by a boutique chocolatier, ChocolaTas as they were asked by a Vancouver gallery to procure a chocolate bust which the gallery wants to give to one of their patrons as a birthday gift. Wim and Veve Tas came to Canada in 2002 to make beautiful Belgian chocolates, and their factory is in Abbotsford, BC. That is where I went to carve the bust.

I’ve never carved chocolate before, but the process is the same as carving stone – subtractive removal of material, only these chips are edible! I found the medium harder to work than I had anticipated and was glad I brought some hand wood chisels with me. Once I had roughed out the features with the chisels, I used my clay carving tools to do the fine detail work. I thought I could complete the sculpture in one day, but I had to return for a second day to complete it.

Another difficult twist was that I have never met, nor seen the subject and had only two frontal view photographs to work from. I had to guess at his profile (the depth of his features from front to back). I made an error in taking away too much material from under his nose, so Veve kindly added a couple of drips of softened, tempered chocolate onto the nose tip to correct it. I learned that there is an intricate science to working with chocolate and what work goes into the little edible jewels that the Tas’s make.

The final sculpture was a pretty close likeness of the subject. He is Caucasian, and the chocolate bust is dark brown, so the medium throws the viewer’s eye off. I only hope the gallery and the recipient are pleased with the piece.

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