Creating Sugar Skulls for Upcoming Exhibition

17/11/12 – Black & White Sugar Skulls

At the moment I have been creating sugar skulls for the Black Calavera exhibition; decorating the skulls is a very interesting process and the method / technique is directly influenced by Ben Starrs Sugar Skull Recipe. In total, I have created 17 sugar skulls, once I had started making them, I just couldn’t stop and Sean assisted with the overall process. Creating the sugar skulls with egg whites is quite a straight forward process and once they set, the skulls become rock solid.

Decorating the skulls was quite time-consuming and applying the icing sugar to the mould was quite difficult to begin with especially if you are using zip lock bags. Once I had decorated two or three, I was finally able to apply the icing without spilling the substance all over the place, it just takes quite a lot of practise and patience. I had realised that if you cut the bags on an angle, it is much easier to spread the icing onto the skull, I do not have experience in baking nor patisserie, so I did learn quite a lot throughout the process.

Instead of using bright, colourful icing, I decided to choose black and white in order to determine whether the absence of colour can alter my interpretation of the Mexican Sugar Skulls. While the decorative designs reminded me of the Day of the Dead, the use of black and white also reminded me of Western / European interpretations of the skull, in a way I had achieved my goal! At the beginning of the year I had planned to construct an exhibition based upon Mexican and European representations of death as well as the human skull. In this particular process, I had realised that the black and white icing sugar had provided the sugar skulls with another interpretation or perspective.

In my very first attempt at decorating the sugar skulls, the bag exploded everywhere, as a result the entire skull was covered in black icing sugar. At first I wasn’t too sure, once the icing had dried, the skull featured some very interesting effects. It was like the skull had been drenched in tar or cement and the skull featured a grotesque appearance compared to the other skulls. I decided to decorate the skull in white icing and sequins in order to reflect similarities to the Mexican Day of the Dead. Covering the skull in black icing definitely features a strong contrast with the other skulls that I have produced; next time I shall add black food colouring to the mixture in order to produce a batch of black sugar skulls.

If you would like any further information in regards to Ben Starrs Sugar Skull recipe, click on the link below.

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