I have never made a chocolate showpiece in the traditional sense. For me, I place them in the same category as sugar showpieces: tacky. What with all the flowers, sea creatures, unicorns, dragons and damsels in distress... not thanks, I'll pass.
While I can certainly appreciate the craft (because it is a craft, not an art, lets not kid ourselves) that goes into making them, I have never seen the point of it but a means of the maker to show off his or her skills. Seldom do I think these pieces are useful, let alone tasteful. I am not an arbiter of taste or a taste-maker by any means, but I can't help but think of the waste of time and chocolate (or sugar) that surrounds these pieces. What are they for? Who really needs a showpiece for anything?
I was recently at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and there was an exhibit on contemporary Japanese ceramics. I had first seen these types of ceramic pieces at the Japan Society in New York City a few years ago, and was dumbfounded by how beautiful they were. But it wasn't until I saw them again in Boston that I thought about how they could be translated into chocolate work. The artists who have inspired me the most are the late Isamu Noguchi (there is an Isamu Noguchi museum in Queens), Kohyama Yasuhisa an Yagi Akira (I highly recommend the book "Contemporary Clay - Japanese Ceramics for the New Century; MFA publications. Find it on Amazon.com).
So what is the chocolate showpiece manifesto? It is just what I think should be the guiding principle to making them. And if anyone cares, this is what I believe it should be:
Simple can be beautiful. It doesn't need to have bells and whistles to make it better. The bells and whistles are what kill it. More is just more.
This is a solid block of chocolate 10 inches long x 8 inches deep. Carved with clay tools with the help of a warming blow dryer, and then polished by hand to smooth it out. The organic shape came from a large chunk of bubble chocolate, broken in half to give it an organic shape and texture.
One of my future projects is an edible sugar showpiece.