When you think of chocolate, you generally wouldn’t expect its production to involve an industrial engineer, but this is no ordinary piece of chocolate. Rather, it’s a work of art shaped into a collaborative showstopper.
The Raven’s Voyage is a moving chocolate sculpture, which is the result of a collaboration between an industrial designer, a filmmaker (Five Spice Creative), an illustrator, and a chocolatier.
“We want to set a new world record for a chocolate sculpture with the most complex, most moving parts in a chocolate sculpture,” chocolatier Dean Gibson said.
To be clear, there is no current record in this category, but Dean and his talented team want to set the record, and set it at such a high bar that it cannot be broken, meaning countless hours of work behind it.
“We want to hold that record as long as we can,” he said.
This isn’t the first moving chocolate sculpture the team has worked on, with the Bone Shaker representing an impressive piece of chocolate machinery.
Dean believes the real story behind The Raven’s Voyage is not necessarily the piece itself, but the collaboration that made it all possible.
“Because we’re collaborating, this is where you can break new ground,” he said.
“For example, I’m using a whole bunch of new tools that I’d never used before, and I wouldn’t have been exposed to them had I not been working with Jon.”
If it’s difficult to imagine how a chocolate sculpture can move, industrial designer Jon Pryer explained the technical side of how it works.
“The whole theme of this piece is Vikings, but we also wanted to make it a reference to nineteenth century theatre sets, where you often had a very mechanical stage set,” he explained.
“With ships going past and waves and mermaids coming out of the waves, it’s all hand driven and really only works when you’re looking at it from one direction. So the Viking ship is beautifully detailed from the front, and around the back we see all the mechanics of it.
“What we were looking at was a really complex theatre set. The first thing we’ve built is the boat with the Vikings rowing, with the second stage to have the sea and the water all moving with the mermaids going in and out of the waves.
“We’ve woven it into a story, which is where the illustrator (Gwen Jones) we’re working with comes in. She’s illustrating that story in a zine.
“So it’s not just a sculpture; there’s a story that goes with it.”
While the Bone Shaker used a lot of technology such as 3D printing and laser cutting, Dean says The Raven’s Voyage has used a lot more handcrafting techniques, more like woodworking as many of the pieces are small and thin. The whole piece moves using a crank handle which is the last thing attached.
According to the team, the building isn’t the nerve-wracking part of the process; rather the real sweats start in the packing and transportation to the venue (Newcastle to Melbourne in the heat of summer!).
Originally scheduled to be unveiled at F. Mayer’s Fine Food in Melbourne which was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team have not been discouraged, instead choosing to livestream it on the website instead!