Too Pretty To Eat: The Art Of Clara D’Tapiero

This is not your grandmother’s Jell-O. Forget the rubbery stuff with the fake-y flavors most of us remember.

This is art. And it’s edible.

Clara D'Tapiero

Picture this: what looks like a domed, glass paperweight has a perfect pink rose suspended within. The flower appears to float. Another orb contains a chrysanthemum; its gold petals cast a soft green shadow underneath its surface. The center of a sunny daisy looks so real, you’d expect to see insects gathering pollen.

These are the creations of Clara D’Tapiero, a native of Cali, Colombia, who now lives in Charlotte. Her medium is gelatin, which she paints, layers, flavors, and molds into works that are lovely – and luscious.

“In my family, creativity runs,” she says. One sister back home is an accomplished cake decorator. “And my mom’s tamales haven’t anything to do with the tamales that you know.”

D’Tapiero doesn’t sketch out her ideas beforehand. With brushes and colored gelatin, she spends long hours practicing three-dimensional butterflies, flowers, leaves and even lettering. Her process is one she describes as “mente llena,” which incorporates a deliberate mindfulness. She thinks about the recipient while crafting each work and as a result, “Every single one has a story.”

Most are startlingly realistic, but others are fanciful. For a Mexican “Grito de Independencia” celebration, D’Tapiero crafted a platter-sized gelatin moon in profile, its face embellished with dozens of blooms. Its companion was a red-lipped sun whose beams radiated pansies and petunias.

For an event commemorating artist Frida Kahlo at The Levine Museum of the New South, D’Tapiero presented a Kahlo-inspired, floral still life.

Regular grocery-store gelatin won’t produce the texture and range of colors D’Tapiero needs, so she orders a special high-protein product. Adding condensed milk gives a creamy look to base layers she flavors with coconut essence. Shimmery top layers can taste of pineapple or other tropical fruits.

The finished creations will last about three hours outdoors, eight hours in an air-conditioned room, and up to a week in the fridge – not that you’d have any left over.

At first, many people don’t believe they can eat D’Tapiero’s work. Then they don’t believe they should.

“Doesn’t it make you sad when someone cuts into it?” a recent recipient asked.

The artist insists it doesn’t. And in fact, she never tires of seeing the delight when someone opens the plain bakery box to reveal the sweet and unexpected treasure inside.

To learn more about Clara D’Tapiero’s creations, visit jelloartists.com.

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9 Comments

Filed under Food, Quirky

9 responses to “Too Pretty To Eat: The Art Of Clara D’Tapiero

  1. Beautiful… Seriously, I do not think I can eat this work of art. I just want to stare at it! So interesting. She must be one patient woman!

  2. Kurma

    It is fantastic how art has no limits to what it can be created. The first time I saw one of these I put my finger on it! I thought it was made of glass!! (It happened to be a birthday cake :P). Clara’s art always surprises me and makes me smile not only because I’m seeing something really beautiful and original, but because of the anticipation of a sweet treat…

  3. The best Jello art I ever see. and the best person .
    Clara is a complete artist, as a person I admire her humility, charisma and talent that make a person unique.
    their products are a unique complement of beauty and delight

  4. Clara’s art is amazing. Her “master pieces” are always present in my celebrations at home. Everyone is always impressed by her art and I believe that we can all “taste” her passion and love in anything she makes.

  5. I clearly understand that her artist soul creates beautiful works of art that are exactly “Too Pretty to eat”. I myself had one of her creations in my refrigerator for several days to admire it each day until… I had the power to finally eat it.
    Her beautiful pieces express creativity and her charming personality.
    Felicidades Amor!

  6. Lucila Ruvalcaba

    Clara is an artist that makes you uses all your senses, you enjoy viewing and admiring her work, you can taste it, you can smell it , you can touch it and finally her beautiful spirit and her soul will enter to your soul and spirit.
    Thank you Clara for all the beauty.

  7. Susana Jerez

    Thanks for this article , I have had the pleasure to eat some of these beautiful pieces of art. Clara is a special person and her personality is reflected in her art. I wish her the best.

  8. John A

    I’m pretty sure I saw these for sale at a food counter at the Macy’s in Chicago this past summer. I’m a pastry chef, so they really caught my eye. They looked even prettier in person.

  9. Susana Iribarren

    I have known Clara for years. She cares for nutrition, so she uses the best ingredients. She pour her soul into her art and is a perfectionist when it comes to using the best ingredients in her Jello. She is original, artistic and spiritual. 3 elements reflected in her desserts that taste so delicious.

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