The Art of Jello
Gelatin as a dessert has a fascinating history and there is plenty of jello trivia, but for pretty pictures, there’s nothing like edible art. Let’s take a look at how creative people are using gelatin as an art medium. Some of these are strictly professional; others you might want to try yourself!
Sam Bompas and Harry Parr experiment with food on a grand scale. Their forte is art installations of jelly (the British term for gelatin). In 2009, they were commissioned by Kraft to produce a gelatin map of the United States, complete with landmarks and a ridge representing the Rocky Mountains. They also constructed a glow-in-the-dark installation for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art called Funeral Jelly.
My Jello Americans is a blog dedicated to the art of the jello shot. Jello shots are servings of alcohol in gelatin form, but these creations take the basic idea and turn it into art, resulting in tiny edible sculptures. Recent shots include Mt. Fuji, which can be ignited like a volcano, and the skulls shown, made with espresso vodka and cinnamon.
Broken Glass Jello, shown here as prepared by Mary the Food Librarian, is a traditional recipe everyone should try at least once. Variations include custom colors for your favorite sports team or a holiday.
This Bleeding Heart dessert was inspired by a Penn & Teller routine. The gelatin is formed in an anatomically-correct heart mold, with a “bladder” of homemade blood (corn syrup and grenadine) inside. When the dessert is served, cutting into the gelatin releases the blood, making a properly horrifying sight for a Halloween party.
Sculpting gelatin into new shapes can result in new uses. Jelloware is the name for drinking glasses made out of agar agar (a vegetable-based gelatin) that can hold liquid and can be eaten, too! If they aren’t consumed, these glasses are biodegradable.
Liz Hickok is probably the best-known gelatin artist on the internet. She creates cityscapes and landscapes made of jello! The model shown here is her hometown, San Francisco. Hickok has also recreated New York City, Scottsdale, Arizona, and other towns in gelatin.
A mold for your gelatin doesn’t have to be a mold made for gelatin. These Orange Wedges are molded in the orange peel, and then served with the peel as well. This recipe can be adapted for lemons or limes. The recipe for watermelon wedges uses limes for the rind, red jello for the watermelon, and chocolate chips for the seeds!
Victoria Belanger is The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn. She posts jello creations of all kinds, with a particular emphasis on jello versions of non-gelatin desserts, like pumpkin pie jello, gingerbread jello (shown), and banana cream jello.
Rosario Gamboa of Canela Bakery makes gelatinas that are arguably too pretty to eat. Her creations look like glass paperweights or snow globes, each with a flower inside. They’re made completely of gelatin, and are bought as soon as they are displayed. The clear gelatin is set first, and the artist injects gelatin mixtures of different colors with syringes and knives, with no room for error. See the process in this video. Image by Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post.
Every year, Gowanus Studio hosts a Jello Mold Competition. An honorable mention went to David Gould, Ben Light, and Ben Walmer in 2010 for their gelatin taxidermy mounts. See all the winners at the website, and find out how you can enter this year’s competition! Image by Emilie Baltz.