Special needs artists help create chocolate

July 14, 2009 7:28:57 PM PDT
Some special needs artists are finding an unlikely new outlet for their works -- on pieces of gourmet chocolate.

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At Creativity Explored, people with developmental disabilities find how art can open a world of expression.

"Art is a way people can communicate, a way people can share, a way people can relate to each other," says the director of Creativity Explored Amy Taub.

They're finding a new audience with one of the premier chocolate makers in the country, San Francisco's Recchiuti Chocolates. It seems to be a natural partnership.

"The work they're creating is brilliant. It sounds like a great project," says Michael Recchiuti from Recchiuti Confections.

Artist Vincent Jackson has been called the Picasso of chocolate. It's the third year of his artisan chocolate series. The latest designs are from Jackson, who's been coming to the center since it opened 26 years ago.

"What I created was some abstracts," says Jackson.

Jackson often works to a large scale, but this time his art had to fit on a 1-inch square of chocolate. The design is printed in cocoa butter on acetate with cocoa butter.

"We run [the chocolate squares] through a waterfall of chocolate and after we run it through the waterfall, or curtain of chocolate, we place the image on top," says Recchiuti.

The technique works well for delicate, handmade chocolates.

"The chocolates move along through a cooling tunnel, which is about 30-feet long. It is part of the process to create chocolates with an artistic flair," says

"It cools, starts to harden, and pulls the image away from the plastic and transfers it onto the chocolate," says Recchiuti.

The chocolate is packaged like fine jewelry, then sold in their Ferry Building store and online. It is chocolate as art with a sense of purpose.

"People with challenges, or whatever you want to call it, can do the same thing as professionals," says Jackson.

"Everybody should think of Creativity Explored when they put chocolate in their mouth," says Taub.

And it is delicious.

Links: Recchiuti Confections
Creativity Explored Box
Creativity Explored

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