It's art! It's organic! It's Free-Trade! Best of all, it's a yummy chocolate bar unlike any other!
Edible Art: An idea takes shape
This project brings together a tile artist, a craft chocolate company, and artisan boxmakers (and me, the chocolatier) to make and market a very special, and very sustainable, chocolate bar.
As an artisan chocolatier, I strive to honor that splendid moment when the silky richness of chocolate transforms an ordinary instant into a special, time-stopping experience. Art adds even more dimension and joy to that special, sensual experience.
At my shop, St. Croix Chocolate Company, we use local organic ingredients, including cream, butter, maple syrup and honey produced within 10 miles of the shop, along the St. Croix River.Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
A natural subject for chocolate
A bit up the river, artist Laura McCaul sculpts clay in the shapes of birds and animals around her studio. I love her work, and asked her to create tiles that we could turn into chocolate bars at my chocolate shop. She made beautiful renditions of area songbirds, and I had molds made from her tiles.
Just the right chocolate
Such edible art requires a special chocolate, and I found just what I wanted from an innovative San Francisco-based company called TCHO. I visited their lab and learned how they work with cacao growers in Peru to improve genetics and flavor by working with farmers (plus, they get bonus points for developing an iPhone app that can control their lab remotely!) Best of all, their organic chocolate is the best I've ever eaten, and I'm excited to use it in the chocolate bars.
Better (for everyone) boxes
Because the bars are dimensionally sculpted, they are much larger than the thin, flat bars that dominate the market now (mmmm, more chocolate!) No off-the-shelf box would fit them, and none would do them justice either. Our customers told us they hate tossing the box and wrapper after they eat chocolate, and they wanted to be able to re-use any box we had made for the bars.
A Chicago company called Distant Village provided an excellent solution for us. They designed a completely Earth-friendly keepsake box that is hand made by artisans. They are Free Trade, and their packaging is tree-free, sustainable, and, of course, beautiful. If you saw the video, those are the prototypes shown. The boxes will look just like those.
Putting it all together
Now it's time to actually produce the boxes, and send this collaborative project out into the world. I know you'll like these bars a lot, from the fabulous chocolate itself, to supporting artists, small businesses and Earth-friendly agriculture. I've laid the groundwork for launching this project, but I'd like to invite you to become a partner, too, so we can take the next step.
Your chance to be part of the project
This unusual edible art project needs your help to give it a final push to get it off the ground. We'll use the funds to pay for our first order of the boxes. (What you see in the video are prototype boxes.) There's a required deposit, so the artisans can gather materials, and a minimum number of boxes we must order to get on their schedule.
Your support at any level is greatly appreciated, not just for the financial aspect, but because we think building a community around this project is a pretty powerful part of it (hopefully, you've noticed that in how we've brought local and global artists together already). If we should exceed our goal, we'll use any additional funds to pay to get the word (and the chocolate) out to the press, distributors and the chocolate-loving world.
And, of course, there are wonderful chocolate-y incentives available when you back this project. You'll get the organic bars, packaged in the sustainable boxes, in fact. It's time to make great chocolate in a way that's good for people, small business and the Earth. We look forward to your questions and your participation.
Below are some photos that may give you a better understanding of who we are, and what we're doing with your backing.
The photo above shows our hand-decorated raspberry bon bons, so you can get an idea of the depth of our work.
This is an example of the work of tile artist Laura McCaul. She carves the slabs of clay, then fires them outdoors in big kilns.
Distant Village artisans hand make the Free-Trade, sustainable boxes.
I meant to say Fair Trade in the references on this page. I can't locate how to edit it at this point, but please do know that both the chocolate and the boxes are produced using fair trade practices. --Robyn