Ant Food


Candy is a a very tedious and interesting material to work with. And I’m always astounded when out of all the tools available, I end up using a chisel and a mallet. Even the coping saw was barely useable; it gummed up quickly when trying to use it as a ‘saw.’ However with a traditional horizontal sawing motion combined with a scraping motion, it worked well for material removal.

Candy absorbs a lot of moisture from the air, so it is a lot easier to work with on a dry (and cold) day. You can polish it with a torch, and if you’re careful you can gradually heat portions of it and mold them by hand. But mainly, it’s a sticky mess.

This was the second column of candy that I poured (the first one is down below). There are 9 different layers, each made with 3.75 cups of sugar, 1.5 cups of corn syrup, 1 cup of water, and food coloring. The mixture is heated to 300 degrees, and then poured in a mold. I used a 6-inch pvc tube that I cut in half, oiled, and clamped back together. Unlike the last column, I let each layer cool to a hard state before pouring the next batch, which worked great. Each layer bonded well to the previous one, and the colors didn’t mix. The only slight problem I had was with the top layer, which was either under or over cooked, and didn’t stay as solid as the other layers.

(The hard crack temperature for candy is around 310 degrees. It is pulled off the stove at 300 because it will heat 10 degrees afterwards. If it doesn’t reach 310 it will be softer, and if it cooks over it will become caramel.)

So, the grass is growing nicely, and Uncle Milton’s Giant Ant Farm is in the mail. This piece should be wrapped up as soon as the ants (to be collected) dig their tunnels. Next on the list is to finish that AK-47, and also assembling a deity of Matsu out of dried fish, shrimp, and squid (for the birds).

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