My dear friend Wendy Mullen e-mailed me with a sweet surprise last fall...the magazine Victorian Homes had contacted her about doing an article featuring her antique chocolate molds, and she wanted to know if it was okay to use photos of the chalkware (plaster composition figures cast in the chocolate molds) I'd done for her...Okay?? Of course it was okay! I was so excited...this wasn't the first time I'd had the delightful experience of working with Wendy, though. A few years ago, when working on her second book, The Comprehensive Guide to Chocolate Molds ~ Objects of Art & Artists' Tools, she asked me if I would consider painting some chalkware figures to be photographed along with the molds they were cast from...I told her that I would be happy to! Wendy sent some of her molds, and using those as well as some from our collection, my husband Nelson cast the figures for me, and I went to work. Wendy had given me carte blanche to use whatever colors and designs on the castings that I pleased ~ I had such fun! Then, the icing on the cake...when the book came back from the publisher, there were two of my molds, along with the corresponding chalkware pieces, on the back cover...I was so honored!
Since the Victorian Homes issue is no longer in stores, I think it would be okay for me to put the text in this post...
"Elegantly clad, trim and stern, The Victorian Santa, or Father Christmas, was adored by well-mannered children and feared by naughty ones. A favorite collectible, the dapper Victorian Santa depicted in antique chocolate molds arrived via many modes of transportation. He was seen riding on the backs of pigs, horses, donkeys and rabbits; sometimes skiing into town or arriving atop the traditional sleigh - or simply catching a ride on a shooting star.
The first known metal chocolate molds were manufactured in France as early as 1820. By 1866, the Hermann Walter Company in Germany began manufacturing molds quickly, followed by the world-renowned Anton Reiche Company in 1870. The Anton Reiche Company was headquartered in Dresden, Germany. In fact, Milton Hershey had many of his molds custom made by his favorite chocolate mold manufacturer and friend, Anton Reiche, who had more than 50,000 chocolate-mold designs encompassing every holiday, event and occasion. Anton Reiche chocolate molds are exquisitely detailed and were meticulously manufactured, which make them highly sought-after. Chocolatiers, artists and collectors continue to be enchanted by these molds and find many innovative uses for the molds well beyond molding chocolate.
Today, these molds are not only collected and displayed on shelves, but artists employ a wide range of materials to make these molds come alive. Plaster chalkware, porcelain clays, paper mache, beeswax, soaps and hard candy are just some of the mediums that can be formed using these wonderful antique molds. New, inventive techniques include using antique chocolate molds to cast plaster as an intermediate step for making molds to form antique-looking blown glass Christmas ornaments, tin toys and solid glass figurines.
The beauty of the antique chocolate mold is in its detail. True works of art, each design has been hand-sculpted in the tradition of Michelangelo and many of the Great Masters. Making art from art is not a new idea; molded chocolate pieces produced in 1820 for the king's table in France were every bit as detailed and exquisite as the molded chocolate available today by many gourmet chocolatiers. Antique chocolate molds are so inspiring they have found their way into artists' paintings. Once you hold and feel the curves and admire the details of a gorgeous antique Santa chocolate mold, you will be captivated for life. These tin treasures have the ability to mesmerize the beholder and bring joy to the world."
(By Wendy Mullen ~ Photography (in the pages pictured below) ~ Patrick Mullen)
1. Wendy's ad in Victorian Homes (I want to give all of them a home!). 2. Holiday Issue cover. 3. A rare Kutzscher Santa on a pig! (He couldn't find his reindeer that night...) 4. "A Little Art" ~ This was the head of a HUGE, gorgeous "window display" Santa mold that Wendy sent for Nelson to mold and me to paint for her second book...). 5. The first page of the article "Santas that Break the Mold" ~ Wendy lent me the top mold last spring to "play" with, and in return I painted her a chalkware casting, never imagining it would end up in a magazine! 6. An Anton Reiche teddy bear. 6. A wonderful Hornlein mold of Father Christmas and two children...used for...molding chocolate!
Left to right; The Comprehensive Guide to Chocolate Molds; Objects of Art & Artists' Tools; front cover; back cover, Wendy's first book, The Collector's Guide to Antique Chocolate Molds; Wendy's book on antique candy containers (the Comprehensive Guide and the Candy Container books are available from Amazon.com). All Beautiful!
Left to right; Wonderful Anton Reiche "Puppet" Santa mold; "Wanderer" Rabbit and Chick from the T.C.Weygandt Company, and my "Pointy Hooded" Santa, also Anton Reiche.
Thank you so much, dear Wendy, for allowing me to be a part of your "Sweet Obsession"!