Friday, December 18, 2009

Mystery Object Revealed

Yesterday we posted a mysterious pink lumpy object and asked you to guess what it was. Well, drumroll, please...

It's a challah!

Curatorial and education department staff are busy updating elements of the Piecing it Together tour. Right now the Rogarshevsky family apartment depicts the Shiva of Abraham Rogarshevky in 1918, but next year, the museum will change the exhibit so that it depicts a typical Sabbath day in 1916.

The Sabbath table at that time would have include two loaves of challah bread. As food and drink are not permitted inside the museum (yay integrated pest management!), Collections Manager Derya turned to Iwasaki Images of America, which makes reproduction foods for restaurants, supermarkets, and - museums!

To make a bread, we had to send a sample to the company. Annie, our VP of Education, picked one up on Grand Street  and took it home for a week to harden. (The bread had to be dried out before a mold could be cast.) After a week, the challah bread was mailed from the Lower East Side to Iwasaki Images’ California studio, where they coated it pink putty and made a mold!

We were lucky enough that the excellent Ron documented the process and sent us some photos. Behold - how a reproduction challah is born:

First, you make a mold out of a real challah bread.

Then you pour in the plastic molding agent and let it harden. The breads fresh out of their little mold "oven" are surprisingly life like.

They get a layer of shiny gloss and then a layer of light yellow that looks rather like an egg wash.

Next, they are spray painted.

And voila - we have bread!

You can see the new bread on the Piecing it Together tour sometime in the near future. (The bread will not be available to sign autographs.)

Thanks to Iwasaki Images for all the photos.

- Posted by Kate & Derya


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