Τα “Wooden Candies”είναι μία διαφορετική συλλογή παπιγιόν και το όνομα τους οφείλετε στο ότι με λίγη φαντασία μας θύμισαν παραδοσιακές τυλιχτές καραμέλες. Πηγή έμπνευσης για εμάς ήταν το διαχρονικό και τόσο σικάτο υφασμάτινο παπιγιόν, ένα αξεσουάρ που προσδίδει επισημότητα και φινέτσα στο ανδρικό και γυναικείο ντύσιμο.
Θέλοντας όμως,να δώσουμε μια πιο «εναλλακτική» νότα στο συγκεκριμένο outfit, αποφασίσαμε να χρησιμοποιήσουμε σαν πρώτη ύλη το φυσικό ξύλο. Αποτέλεσμα της δουλειάς μας είναι ένα ξεχωριστό παπιγιόν,όχι αυστηρό αλλά ούτε εκκεντρικό, ένα casual αξεσουάρ με γλυκά φινιρίσματα στις άκρες, δίνοντας ιδιαίτερη έμφαση στην 3D διάσταση, δουλεμένο εξ ολοκλήρου στο χέρι.
Για τη δημιουργία τους διαλέξαμε μερικές από τις πιο ξεχωριστές ποικιλίες ξύλων όπως καρυδιά, ελιά, οξιά, zebrano και άλλα, διατηρώντας το φυσικό χρώμα του ξύλου και τονίζοντάς το με οικολογικό βερνίκι.
Ένας ακόμη λόγος που λατρέψαμε το ξύλο σαν πρώτη ύλη ,είναι το διαφορετικό αισθητικό αποτέλεσμα που δίνει σε κάθε δημιουργία μας. Ασύμμετρα νερά, με διαφορετικές αποχρώσεις μεταξύ τους, κάνουν το κάθε κομμάτι ένα μοναδικό έργο τέχνης.
Everything starts in large copper bowls.
Today, it?s toffee crunch. But soon in the next bowl over, it might be caramel or chocolate creams or vanilla. They differ in shapes and sizes and consistencies. But everything starts here, in large copper bowls over gas flames, at the back of the chocolate factory at Easton?s Hilliards Chocolates.
What follows may seem like magic to most, but to Judy McCarthy, it?s simply a family tradition.
McCarthy?s great-grandfather Marcellus Parker owned a candy store in Haverhill in the early 1900s, but it was his daughter and son-in-law who really turned the craft of making fine chocolates into what would become the family?s legacy: Hilliards Chocolates. Perley and Jessie Hilliard opened their own operation in 1924 near Quincy that would quickly spread to 14 stores across New England.
In 1950, McCarthy?s parents took on the family enterprise and turned its focus to a shop and factory in North Easton. McCarthy and her husband bought the business in 1981 and, as fourth-generation candy-makers, have expanded the shop to include stores in Mansfield and Norwell.
But it?s in North Easton that the candy comes to life, she says.
Here is where sugar, butter and water are carefully cooked to the perfect temperature, stirred in a figure-eight pattern with a wooden paddle by candy-makers with increasing speed, as the heat inside the sticky substance climbs. It?s a careful science: If they move too slow, the toffee will burn and the toasty flavor of the candy will easily become scorched, McCarthy explains.
But that?s only the first step. When it hits its mark, Dan Donovan and Chris Eden glide the candy across a heated metal table seamlessly. One evens it out while the other follows with homemade chocolate on top, and then the first retreats to sprinkle crushed almonds on top before it hardens.
They flip, repeat, cut it into smaller slabs and tuck it away in the shop to cool. One batch will produce enough toffee for nearly 50 boxes, but on a busy day they?ll need to make as many as 12 batches.
Nearby Leah Sannie cranks homemade vanilla caramel slabs through a machine, measuring their thickness, before hand-slicing the candy into bite-size pieces. Michael King and Steve Gotreau pop chocolate cream fillings out of their molds. Hours earlier other crew hand-filled the one-inch molds one-by-one.
Now the creams will sit for awhile until they morph into the right consistency ? a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth finish at the center of a chocolate treat.
But in the next room over, the candy-making doesn?t stop.
Workers place caramels and fillings onto conveyor belts that slide underneath waterfalls of chocolate. The belts vibrate upon exit, shaking the excess chocolate off of the treats. A worker stands by for quality control and to dust the candies with sea salt and sprinkles. By the time they reach their end, the chocolates are boxed up and ready to set in a nearby cooler.
Just feet away, Tiziana Tropeano calculates the number of pumps of melted chocolate needed to fill a heart-shaped mold. She taps the mold onto the counter firmly twice, and transfers the chocolate to the back room.
Workers gather ribbon, tissue paper and heart-shaped boxes and package Valentine?s-themed gifts.
By the end of it all, more than 10,000 boxes of assorted chocolates will be ready for sale come Valentine?s Day. And that doesn?t count the chocolate roses, dipped strawberries and Twinkies, long-stem cherries, fudge, caramel apples and the many other delicacies for sale.
All are family recipes. And most of it is hand made.
?We don?t take any shortcuts,? McCarthy said.
The shop partners with small farmers for the dipped fruits and only buys what can be guaranteed fresh. They use machines in parts of the shop, but a lot of the candy-making requires hands-on, manual labor. Her employees, 25 of them total between makers and packers, range from culinary backgrounds to makers who have learned the science of the shop in the factory itself.
Gotreau says he?s a trained executive chef who?s worked in the industry for over 30 years. He?s been with Hilliards four months, and the training he said he?s received is beyond what his past experiences granted him.
?The basics were there, but this is so special,? he said.
Others have been with the company for decades ? and have brought their own family into different parts of the business. King, a 45-year-employee, jokes that he?s a better candy-maker than McCarthy?s father.
But it?s grueling work, the candymaking, McCarthy said. From September to June they rarely see a break, with back-to-back holidays keeping the shop busy. They?ll stop most Valentine?s Day production a week before the holiday, but Easter is just around the corner.
And as sales go through, they work to backfill items that fly off the shelves.
?You think you have enough of something, but then a business will come in and buy stacks of something and wipe you out,? McCarthy said. ?You do start running out. We can?t keep up with it.?
A truck brings supplies to Mansfield twice a week usually, but the week of Valentine?s Day they?ll do shipments twice a day.
But it?s part of an experience her family has promised visitors to the shop for nearly 100 years.
?We need to make it an experience with all of the competition out there,? she said. ?It needs to be unique, fresh and different ? and worth the trip to come to us. It?s not just like you?re buying drugstore candy.
?You have to have something different that people know they can only get from us.?
That is where the true science of the candy-making shop comes in.
The shop is decorated for the seasons. But the real treat is what can be seen through the windows: A dozen candy-makers at work. The scent of chocolate fills the air and fresh samples are offered to visitors who walk through the door. The sellers offer advice on which candies are fan-favorites. The shop is buzzing even on a standard mid-week morning.
But even on days when the stream of visitors hit a lull, the workers maintain their deeds.
Valentine?s Day may be here, but Easter is just around the corner.
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