Meet Jessica Mentis - Jellyologist

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Meet Jessica Mentis - Jellyologist

When you think about jelly, you probably think of your 7th birthday party or some nasty green shots in a plastic cup! However Jessica Mentis, an Auckland based creative is bringing jelly into the now under her brand The Jellyologist. Jessica creates beautiful sculptural jelly art in a range of colours and flavours. You can view some of her creations on Instagram www.instagram.com/thejellyologist
With a Masters in Architecture, a Bachelor in Spatial Design and a certificate in Art and Design, Jessica has lived and worked around the world.

Annie caught up with Jessica to ask her what makes her tick and where on earth architecturally designing jelly came from!

Your jelly business is pretty weird. And awesome. Are you the only Jellyologist that you know of?

I'm the only one that I know of! It's no secret that my biggest heroes are two incredible guys in the UK called Bompas and Parr. They also work with jelly and have been a huge source of inspiration. I made up the name when I needed an Instagram handle though, and I guess it's kind of stuck!

And where did the idea to create structural jelly come from?

The idea started as the first in a series of projects that aimed to fuse my passion for set and theatre design with my love of food. Every day for a hundred days I made a mould using a 3d printer, set it with experimental flavours, photographed it and posted it on Instagram. It was a way to start testing out some of the ideas I had around merging tools and processes that are usually found in architectural or spatial practices with a more commonly practiced activity - eating! People really responded to the project, and the whole jelly thing has really taken on a life of its own.

And where do you get your inspiration from for your designs?

Most of the ones for the 100 days project had to be produced so quickly that they were experiments with shapes and forms and evolved quite organically. Some of the others that I've done have needed to fit in with a certain theme and some of my favourites are purely designed to test the limits of the jelly. The higher the mould the bigger the wobble!

You’ve created works for a few events now…which has been the most outstanding for you? Can you pick a single one!?

Perhaps the most 'spectacular' was an installation at Seafarers for their inaugural members only party. They channelled the iconic Studio 54 and turned the whole Seafarers building into 4 floors of amazing party action. On one level we re-created a giant 2m square Roy Litchenstien piece - out of jelly! There were 1,200 jelly shot that comprised the piece and over the course of the party the whole work was eaten.. You can see the creation of the work here: http://mentisstudios.com/members-only/

So what sort of flavours have you developed? Got any favourites? Have you attempted any that really just didn’t work?

I had to come up with quite a few novel ones over the course of the 100 day challenge.. but my favourites are still the classics. Espresso Martini, Old Fashioned and a particularly delish Pimms Cups are currently on rotation! I'm jellying up a special love potion for Valentine’s day that will be available to order next week too - it's pretty rad. Most of the flavours work, although I wasn't a massive fan of the Bloody Mary I tried for the 100 day challenge. The real trials come in the shapes - I've kind of worked out what the structural components need to be to ensure maximum wobble, but there were a few disasters in the early days.

What about the technology you use? You use a 3D printer to create moulds?

Yep! Most of the moulds are created using 3D printing technology. It's pretty cool that we have that technology available these days, and I'm excited to keep testing tools that aren't usually associated with cooking or the kitchen to create edible works.

This is all quite unique. Have you had a lot of international attention?

There's been a bit of coverage overseas - the Great Discontent (a New York magazine) did a little interview during the 100 day project and there are a few dedicated Sydney fans on my Instagram that can't wait for the day The Jellyologist moves across the ditch - perhaps one day!

Jessica is also a graphic designer and most of her time overseas in London and New York, was spent working in studios . She is available for freelance work. Contact Annie for more details.